Archive for June, 2010

A lesson learned

June 29, 2010

Being relatively new to the “blog world,” I have learned a very valuable lesson. Don’t post a blog without making sure you know what you’re talking about. I wrote a blog last week entitled “Taking a Stand is OK.” It referred to a situation that occurred at Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova. I misunderstood the story. I thought the church simply did not allow someone to coach one of their teams because she was a lesbian.

In essence, the church barred an outside team playing in their league because the coach was a lesbian. One of my readers pointed this out to me, so that is why last week’s post is no longer available to read. I still believe churches must take a stand, but more thought needs to be given to this matter. It is no longer a matter of a church “policing” itself.

Hopefully I have learned from this mistake and will be more careful in the future.

As a journalist I want to be as accurate as possible in what I write, whether it be a published news story or something on this blog site. I welcome any advice as I continue my journey in the 21st century.

Traveling mercies

June 21, 2010

Late last week, I had to write a story that pained me to write.

Palmer Maphet, a 19-year-old college student at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville and a summer missionary with Tennessee Baptist Collegiate Ministries, was killed in a car accident in Maine. Such a tragedy.

By all accounts, Palmer was a tremendous Christian young man who loved the Lord that he was serving this summer up north. When the accident occurred, his four-member team, along with their supervisor, were traveling to do ministry in New Hampshire at an event.

The other three students, along with their supervisor Marilyn McClendon, are all out of the hospital and recovering from their injuries.

Continue to be in prayer for them and the Maphet family. Palmer’s funeral will be on Thursday, June 24, at the Hermitage Church of the Nazerine in Old Hickory.

Palmer’s death is a reminder that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

I usually do not like to fly, but I have come to realize over the years that an automobile wreck is much more likely to happen than a plane crash. God has protected me on more than one occasion during the countless miles I have driven for the Tennessee Baptist Convention the past 22 years. I am grateful and blessed.

Other TBC staff members and summer missionaries will continue to drive numerous miles this summer. Pray for traveling mercies for them as they minister in our Lord’s name.

Update from the SBC

June 16, 2010

Southern Baptists adopted the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force by a substantial margin after it was amended twice to strengthen the language concerning the Cooperative Program.

Much of the debate over the report centered around the recommendation which added a new giving category called Great Commission Giving which would include the Cooperative Program and designated giving to other Southern Baptist causes.

Many people felt the new category would diminish the importance of the Cooperative Program.

An amendment was offered to strike the Great Commission Giving language. After a show of ballots vote appeared too close to call, the task force recommended two compromise amendments. The first amendment said Southern Baptists “continue to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our outreach.” The second amendment added, “We affirm that designated giving to special causes is to be given as a supplement to the Cooperative Program and not as a substitute for Cooperative Program giving.”

The amendments passed by a show of ballots vote and then the entire report was adopted.

In other actions during the first day of the convention on June 15, Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church near Atlanta, was elected president in a runoff with Ted Traylor, pstor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla. Wrght received 4,225 votes or 55.11 percent while Traylor received 3,371 votes or 43.9 percent.  Two other candidates had also sought election for president — Jimmy Jackson, a pastor from Huntsville, Ala., and Leo Endel, executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention.

Tennessee evangeist Ron Herrod of Sevierville, was elected first vice president over Jim Drake, a pastor from West Virginia. Herrod received 1,653 votes or 59.08 percent to Drake’s 1,117 votes or 39.92 percent.

Former SBC president Frank Page was introduced to messengers as the new president of the SBC Executive Committee following his election the previous day during a closed, executive session that lasted about two hours.

See the June 23 issue of the Baptist and Reflector for complete convention coverage. — Includes reporting by editor Lonnie Wilkey and Michael Foust and Norm Miller of Baptist Press.

Us and Them

June 10, 2010

I am now in my 30th year as a denominational journalist. That in itself is hard to believe. But after graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1980 I worked in public relations for North Greenville College (now University) and have been employed either at the state level or national level ever since.

As I get ready to leave for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention to be held next week in Orlando, Fla., I was reflecting on all the conventions I have attended since 1983 when I went to my first annual meeting in Pittsburgh. I have missed only two since then for various reasons, so I am guessing next week will be my 25th annual meeting.

One thing that stands out is that, at least in my 30 years of direct involvement, Southern Baptists, for some reason, have had an “us” and “them” mentality.

For the first 10 to 15 years, it was easy to distinguish between us and them. It was moderates and conservatives. But as conservatives took control of the convention, most “die-hard” moderates left the convention.

But the “us and them” mentality remains in the SBC even though I don’t know if anyone really can define the distinction between “us and them” since everyone is generally considered to be conservative.

For instance, Morris Chapman is retiring in September as the president of the SBC Executive Committee. When he was elected to that position in 1992 he was president of the convention and a leader in the conservative movement. He was definitely one of the “us.”

But now, with only a few months remaining on his watch, he appears to be out of favor with current leadership in the SBC. He apparently will leave the SBC as a “them,” whoever “them” are.

Chapman makes it clear he is very much opposed to the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force which will be presented during the annual meeting next week. He wrote several articles for Baptist Press last week along with an “open letter” in which he offered some alternate recommendations to the GCR Task Force report.

In his letter, released in Baptist Press on June 4, Chapman wrote, “I would have wished that these last few months could have been different. Frankly, some encouraged me to ‘Finish Well’ by which they meant that I should slip off into the sunset without conveying my opinion about the GCTF Final Report. When I accepted the responsibility of this office in 1992, I did so with a commitment to keep Southern Baptists as informed as possible about the key issues confronting the SBC. Until September 30, 2010, I have as much responsibility in this regard as I did on October 1, 1992. I cannot shirk my responsibility simply because my time to exit my position is coming to a close.” 

Read more here

I admire Chapman for standing up for his principles and beliefs.

I think most people believe in the basic premise of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report. I certainly do. We need to do what it takes to reach our state, nation and world for Christ. But it will take more than simply adopting a report in Orlando to see this resurgence.

A resurgence will happen only when and if Southern Baptists redefine “us and them” to the most basic of terms. “Us” is everyone who has confessed their sin and invited Jesus Christ into their heart as Lord and Savior of their life (believers). “Them” is everyone who has not yet made that decision and commitment (nonbelievers).

Put simply, fulfilling the Great Commission involves us (Christians) telling them (non-Christians) about the love of Jesus Christ. Sometimes Southern Baptists (and other denominations as well) make it more complicated than Jesus intended it to be.

Pray for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. May we come out of those sessions united together to reach our world for Christ.

Tennessee Baptists have a new leader

June 2, 2010

The Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention unanimously elected Randy Davis on June 2 as the new executive director to succeed James Porch who is retiring.

Wow! When have Baptists ever done anything unanimously other than adjourn?

The search committee charged with finding a successor and the Executive Board have made  an excellent choice.

Randy Davis is a strong, committed Tennessee and Southern Baptist. He has led two churches in Tennessee to be extremely evangelistic. He also has been a strong supporter of the Cooperative Program. Davis has been involved in Tennessee Baptist life as current president and former president of the Pastors Conference and a trustee of Carson-Newman College.

He knows our convention and he will lead us well in the years ahead. See the June 9 issue of the Baptist and Reflector for more commentary. A news story about Davis’ election is posted on the TBC website.