January 16, 2020 www.mbcb.org
J ou r n a l
of t he
M i s s i s s i ppi B a pt i s t C on v e n t i on
s i nce
Vol. 144 No. 3
Columbus pastor Shawn Parker to lead MBCB By William H. Perkins Jr. Editor
NEW LEADER — Shawn Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbus, addresses members of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) on Dec. 19 at Garaywa Camp and Conference Center in Clinton. The Board voted to call Parker as the next MBCB Executive Director-Treasurer to succeed Jim Futral, who is retiring. (Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.)
Shawn Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbus, was unanimously called on Dec. 19 by the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) to succeed longtime Executive Director-Treasurer Jim Futral, who will formally retire at the end of February after more than 21 years of service. “We believe he is the Lord’s man. We believe he is a relational leader who knows how to cast a vision,” said Bobby Kirk, Chairman of the Search Committee and member of Roundaway Baptist Church, Doddsville, in his presentation to the MBCB Executive Committee earlier in the day. The Search Committee met 19 times and considered every resume’ submitted to them, Kirk said. After 11 months of meetings, the Search Committee voted unanimously to recommend Parker’s nomination to the Executive Committee, according to Kirk. The Executive Committee voted unanimously to send Parker’s nomination to the full Board. Parker, age 50, was born in Booneville and raised by Christian parents in Michie, Tenn., about 12 miles northeast of Corinth. He was baptized at First Baptist Church, Michie, at the age of 10, and felt the call to pastoral ministry at the age of 16. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a religion major from Baptist-affiliated Union University in Jackson Tenn., in 1991. He holds both a Master of Divinity with languages degree (1995) and a
LAYING ON OF HANDS — Members of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) gather for prayer around Shawn Parker (third from left) and his wife Elizabeth (fourth from left) after voting to call him as the next MBCB Executive Director-Treasurer on Dec. 19 at Garaywa Camp and Conference Center in Clinton. (Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.) Doctor of Philosophy in Old Testament and Hebrew degree (2000) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “My philosophy of ministry is based on an understanding of the overarching purpose of the church. The biblical material emphasizes a three-fold purpose of the church: to exalt God, to equip believers for discipleship, and to evangelize the world,” Parker enumerated in written remarks to the Search Committee. “Above all, the Christian leader should be a person of spiritual discipline who is faithful in prayer, diligent in study, intentional in evangelism, and mature in character. When a Christian leader is faithful in these ways, God will honor his work,” he wrote. Prior to his call to First Baptist Church, Columbus,
in 2003, Parker served as senior pastor of Metairie Baptist Church in Metairie, La. (20012003); pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church, New Orleans (1993-2001); and pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Milan, Tenn. (1990-1991). He has served on the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (2008-2014) and the Board’s Executive Committee, as well as the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s Resolutions Committee (2017) and Nominating Committee (2019). He also served as a member of Golden Triangle Baptist Association’s Executive Leadership Team (2004-2007) while in Columbus, and on the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board (1996-2002). see PARKER on p. 10
An open letter Editor’s note: Sunday, Jan. 19 is SancWhen the “blob” argument was tity of Human Life Sunday across the quashed, you switched to the argument Southern Baptist Convention. that fetal tissues — a euphemism for baby parts — were needed for vital research into reetings, my friends. I have an ur- cures for a host of diseases. When that was gent word of advice for you. Listen disproved you switched to the women’s closely. For some time now, the health argument, which seems to be holdabortion industry has become increasing- ing up pretty well with the injection of that ly desperate as advancements in medicine “war on women” political nonsense. and technology relentlessly push back the What a malignantly magnificent date at which human life in the womb can manipulation of language you have be indisputably recognized. I am gravely achieved through your feckless friends concerned. in the news media, so much so that you The meaningless trimester system of have squelched nearly all public discourse human development, magically crafted on the issue of abortion. I could not have out of thin air in 1973 by the witless U.S. twisted the truth so eloquently even in my Supreme Court as they threw out the Con- prime — and you know I was very accomstitution, was a real coup. It has long been plished in the art of mass rationalization. the laughingstock of medical classrooms Needless to say, I have always been a in your country, but somehow has held big advocate of discarding lives not worth up all these years. Brilliant. You are to be living. Once a class of humans is devalued, commended. as you are doing so successfully with unUndeterred abortion supporters still born children, the sky is the limit. Those argued that the “fetus” isn’t actually life, pesky “fetuses” have no voice, so politieven though it has been pointed out that cians aren’t interested in them since they if the baby wasn’t alive and growing, it can’t provide contributions. They have no wouldn’t have to be killed. “A barely-orway to defend themselves. The elderly and ganized blob of tissue stuck to the side the sick can’t be far behind, can they? of a woman’s uterus can’t be considered Best of all, the public is always willing ‘human,’” they continued to assert. to avert their eyes from the slaughter, as That was until 4-D ultrasound and long as you tickle their ears with empty other remarkable advances in diagnostic promises of rising lifestyles and endless medicine revealed a microscopic portion leisure. Trust me. They won’t care as long of the “blob” unmistakably contracting as their bellies are full, even as the ashes in the faintest of heartbeats, only a few from the ovens fall all around them. weeks after conception. Other technoYou and your pro-death colleagues logical advances allow for the detection should heed my warnings because you’re during gestation of brain waves, finger hanging by a thread, ideologically speakbuds, gender, and eye color. An abortion ing. Hold fast to your intellectual dishoncan even be viewed in real time as it is esty. It’s pretty much all you have left, but inflicted on the unsuspecting child. the public will buy it anyway (see preceedNow to my concerns. It is painfully ing paragraph). obvious to me that as one pro-abortion arPlease don’t fail me. America is my best gument after another is demolished by re- hope to convince people that I was merely ality, the defeats have been so devastating 75 years ahead of my time. Oh, to be alive that any other business model would have in America today. been abandoned long ago. Not so with the Your admiring Angel of Death, abortion industry, much to my relief. Dr. Josef Mengele
Handle With Care
eing an effective social media manager means doing more than just sitting on Facebook and Twitter all day. It requires keeping up with trends and changes in trends so that necessary changes to strategy can be made. Here are five basic trends that churches ought to note: n Every platform is increasingly different. Every social media platform has its own sort of subculture, and what works on each platform will vary. The dimensions for images and video are different. Recognize these things and create content specific to each platform. n People are moving from public spaces to private spaces. Private social media spaces are starting to get a lot more attention. Features like Facebook Groups, Instagram direct messages, and apps like Snapchat all continue to grow in popularity. What this means is that churches should be ready and willing to use features like Facebook Messenger and Facebook Groups to communicate with church members and those in the surrounding communities about needs, events, and other items. n Facebook ads continue to be effective. Facebook knows more about its users than any other social media platform. Facebook ads continue to be an effective strategy. It can be a bit confusing for someone new to social advertising, so do some research and find some help. n TikTok is huge, but not worth a church’s time. TikTok is a short-form video social media platform used primarily by teenagers and young adults. It is exploding among young people, who are often the catalyst for the newest social media platforms. I don’t think churches need to be worried about creating content here, but youth pastors and parents should be aware of it and ask their students about it. n YouTube is still the biggest social media platform in the world, so use it well. You may
with Chris Martin
“... churches should work to use the gifts God has given them in all spheres, and social media is an important avenue of communication that cannot be ignored.” not think of YouTube as a social media platform, but it’s largest social media platform in the world. I have found it to be an area of tremendous opportunity. YouTube can be hard for churches, especially churches that do not have video equipment to record sermons or other kinds of video content. n A Closing Reminder. Creating and maintaining a good social media strategy does not need to be a top priority for churches. It may be weird to read that sentence from someone who works in social media and cares deeply about it, but it’s just true. The local church needs to first focus on the incarnational ministry it does with people in its community before it worries about putting together a great Instagram strategy. However, churches should work to use the gifts God has given them in all spheres, and social media is an important avenue of communication that cannot be ignored. It is important; it is difficult — but it is not ultimate. Martin is a social media manager for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville and student ministry director at City Church in Murfreesboro, Tn. His commentary appears courtesy of Baptist Press. Edited for style and length.
January 16, 2020 The Baptist Record
Las Vegas mission opportunity yields faith professions By William H. Perkins Jr. Editor
LAS VEGAS WITNESSING — Scotty Cooper (facing forward), pastor of Cooperville Church outside Morton in Scott County Association, prays with a father and his three young sons at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas during a Dec. 5-14 mission trip involving Baptists from six states. Mississippi Baptists made up the majority of the participants. (Photo by Don Lum)
When Las Vegas is mentioned, most people think of the city’s cavernous casinos, glittering games of chance, and party scene. Don Lum and a dedicated cadre of Mississippi Baptists know there’s more to Las Vegas than just drinking and gambling. “Las Vegas is a gambling destination, yes, but there are so many opportunities to go beyond that and witness to people attending events like the National Finals Rodeo in the Las Vegas Convention Center downtown,” said Lum, director of evangelism at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) in Jackson. That’s where Lum and 26 other Mississippi Baptists participated Dec. 5-14 in Cowboy Christmas, a multi-state effort to reach out to Las Vegas conventioneers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Mississippi Baptists were joined by Baptists from Alabama, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming. During the National Finals Rodeo at the convention center, the Baptists staffed a booth in the South Hall, part of the 3.2 million-squarefoot convention center that more than 250,000 people passed through during the rodeo and associated events
in other parts of the convention center. “This was the first opportunity for Mississippi Baptists to do this type of evangelism in Las Vegas,” Lum said. “We worked eight hours or more each day we were there. We met folks from all over the world. We even talked to members of a group of people from Australia.” Two complete families from Hawaii accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior at the Baptists’ booth, he said. In total, more than 1,700 Gospel presentations were made, resulting in nearly 150 professions of faith and other decisions. “As you would expect, there were some good folks who stopped by and some who really didn’t want to talk with us. All in all, the mission trip met our every expectation,” Lum observed. The seed that bloomed into the Las Vegas mission trip was planted in 2015, when Lum traveled to Rock Springs, Wyo., to assist James Scott at the National High School Finals Rodeo. Scott is a church planter with Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board. Lum brought home his Wyoming experiences and duplicated the evangelistic outreach at the 2016 Dixie National Livestock and Rodeo Show in Jackson. Scott came to Jackson to assist Lum and the
Mississippi Baptist volunteers Lum had rounded up. In 2018, Lum went to Las Vegas to scout the idea of staffing a booth in the convention center during the rodeo events there. He came away convinced that a mission trip during the rodeo time would be a winner and in 2019, the vision became a reality. By the way, Mississippi Baptist volunteers have had a witnessing presence every year at Dixie National since the inaugural effort in 2016. Scott has been there every year, too. Lum is already laying plans for a return mission trip to Las Vegas during the 2020 rodeo. Mississippi Baptist volunteers are needed, Lum said, and training is available to everyone who signs up for the trip. “This is not a mission trip for only cowboys and cowgirls,” he said. “You don’t have to wear boots and blue jeans to share your faith with as many of the 250,000 people who have ears to hear. You just have to care for people who need to know Jesus.” Volunteers interested in more information on 2020 Cowboy Christmas in Las Vegas can contact Linda Burris, ministry assistant in the MBCB Evangelism Department. Telephone: (601) 292-3278. E-mail: email@example.com. Mailing address: P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530.
Vols needed for Jan. 30 - Feb 12 Dixie National evangelism By William H. Perkins Jr. Editor Don Lum, director of evangelism at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB), is sounding the call for volunteers willing to witness to the thousands of people who will coming from across the state, nation, and internationally to attend and participate in the Dixie National Livestock and
Rodeo Show at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in Jackson. “As we have since the 2016 rodeo, Mississippi Baptists will staff an exhibit tent on the rodeo midway to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We had 100 volunteers last year, and we’re going to need that many or more this year. “In addition to the evangelism effort, Dixie National is a great opportunity for individuals and families to experi-
ence the rodeo culture and the people who are drawn to rodeo events.” Mississippi Baptist volunteers will staff the tent from Jan. 30 - Feb 12. The vols don’t have to work the entire time frame, but should consider being there for as many shifts as possible, Lum said. Dixie National is one of the largest shows of its kind east of the Mississippi River, according to the event’s website.
“Adventure, amazing competition, and standout entertainment, packed into three and a half week[s] bring thousands of people donned in denim, buckles and boots to the capital city to celebrate the Dixie National Rodeo.” The web site lists the rodeo events to be exhibited as bareback bronc riding, bull riding, calf roping, cowgirls barrel racing, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping,
and tie down roping. The Dixie National Rodeo also features several country music concerts. Volunteers interested in more information and arranging training for the 2020 Dixie National evangelism effort can contact Linda Burris, ministry assistant in the MBCB Evangelism Department. Telephone: (601) 292-3278. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mailing address: P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530.
The Baptist Record January 16, 2020 3
or over twenty years, I have come to a moment in the week when I had to finish pulling my thoughts and words into phrases and sentences and paragraphs and prepare an article that would appear in The Baptist Record. The article that would be known as Directions would appear in The Baptist Record week by week for over two decades. Rarely was it ever a struggle and probably over 95% of the time it simply flowed together into a framework that would become the article for that week. Then, finally, I would come to that moment when I would begin to put it together and to share with Mississippi Baptists a thought or a word of encouragement. Never was it an historic achievement or a literary masterpiece. I doubt anyone ever had thoughts of Shakespeare or Chaucer or even John Grisham when they started reading Directions. That was not the goal. No, I was writing to folks across our state, most of whom were Baptists that received The Baptist Record, to talk with them about life as we lived it and how God wanted to come and be a part of His people and to be on the front lines of the activities that we were involved in and to use us to impact this world and to share the love of His Son, Jesus. It was out of the busyness of life, communicating to people living in pressurized situations in their own lives who needed to know that God does care about them and that God wants to work in them and through them to bring blessings to this world. Frankly, if the goal in my writing was not to be profound, I think that most of you would agree that I succeeded. Though I have rarely struggled with having something to write about in the column, this article, today, is different. More than the over 1,000 Directions I have written, this one is the most difficult of all. How do you say goodbye or so long? It is for me virtually impossible. I guess you could just line up all the various ways that around the world people say goodbye – sayonara, adios, arrivederci, or maybe even as the citizens of our 50th state say when they express, aloha, it can mean hello or it can mean so long. Truth is, it is hard to say goodbye. It’s hard to sign off and say so long to people you love and people who have cared about you. That is the struggle that I wrestle with in writing you today. One of the problems that I have in the struggle is that I am retiring from
earth, and let God use you and in fact bless you. Third — Mississippi Baptists … be enlarged! There are people to reach, churches to start, people to be saved, men and women and young people who need to become true, living disciples of Jesus. The responsibility is yours and mine. I think about the way God has led and so blessed our convention in providing for the new leader who is coming to this position. Dr. Shawn Parker has faithfully served Jesus throughout his ministry, and here in our own state for 17 years he has been the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Columbus and parallel to that has been involved with our state convention and the work of Christ around the world. He did not seek this position, but over “My cup runneth over as I have been blessed by our institutions the weeks and months of searching, and agencies, our camps and our celebrations, our churches and the position sought for him. There was a long list of great associations. I have been blessed by our pastors and our lay leaders who were looked at, prayed leaders, our children and our senior citizens ... From the depths over, and I am confident could have of my heart and overflowing with love towards you and emotion done the job, but the reality is that God spoke to our committee that at the highest level, I say to each of you, thank you.” was in constant contact with the living Christ, and He brought them to Shawn Parker and brought Shawn the position of Executive Director of ring hollow, but I wish I did have Parker to us. He deserves our supthe Mississippi Baptist Convention the capability of expressing it with Board, but I will still be here. I will be greater impact for that’s what I would port, our prayers, our involvement doing most of the things that I have say. From the depths of my heart and and he is deserving of the affirmation and help that you have given to been doing for the past 21 years as overflowing with love towards you Executive Director or beyond that, and emotion at the highest level, I say me. It is a fact that without followship, no leadership makes any dif55 years in ministry. From the time to each of you, thank you. God called me, I have never preached Second — Mississippi Baptists ference. He is a leader, but he needs to live, but to be honest I have often… bless you! We all only have a brief all of us to say, “Here am I. You can times lived to preach. God has given time to do our part and to live out our count on me.” God has done mighty things me the privilege to do that not only calling, and I want to encourage each through not only decades but centuacross our great state but across the of you wherever you serve and whatries of Mississippi Baptist life because nation and to countries around the ever the opportunity it is that God of the kind of quality of people that world. I have shared the Lord’s mesgives you to participate in His Kingfill our churches and follow the living sage and been blessed 10,000 times dom work, God bless you, and keep Christ. Stay close to the Lord, and in serving Him. How do I stop writup the great work. I am keenly aware like Aaron and Hur, lift up not only ing, or what can I say? Three things of the fact that every ending also has the hands of our leader but the heart come to mind. a beginning. Sometimes we fail to see of our leader as he looks to the Lord First — Mississippi Baptists that. It is true for me today that the and will guide us in the days that are … thank you! You have been so ending of this phase of my life and ahead. From the day that I became good to my family and me. I have ministry and service opens doors of aware of the fact that he was being been blessed over and over. My cup opportunity for new beginnings, new recommended by our Search Commitrunneth over as I have been blessopportunities, and new ways which tee, I have not failed to pray for him ed by our institutions and agencies, time and rushed schedules never and his family as he comes to lead. our camps and our celebrations, our provided. It is a beginning and I pray He is remarkably capable, but it can’t churches and associations. I have that God is going to guide me as He be done just by the strength of will or been blessed by our pastors and our also will continue to guide you. the characteristics of brilliance. It is a lay leaders, our children and our The other thing that so clearwork of God. God will guide him, and senior citizens. Thank you for the ly comes to my mind is that every he will lead us. We will follow and glorious privilege you have given me beginning also has an ending. It is celebrate what Jesus is doing among to be your Executive Director over always that way, but there is so much us in the days ahead. these years. More than a title or a po- more that we can do, so many more With all of that said, a final sition, you have allowed me to be and needs that are out there, challenges thought. Sincerely. I look forward to encouraged me to be your preacher, that call for us and responsibilities seeing you soon. your fellow worker, your helper, your that will need us. Answer the call, fellow servant in the work of Christ. there in your local church, there in The author can be contacted at I know those two little words can your family, maybe to the ends of the email@example.com.
The Final Directions
January 16, 2020 The Baptist Record
Split touted as the future for United Methodist Church WASHINGTON (BP and local reports) – A split proposed for the United Methodist Church (UMC) could provide lessons for other religious denominations, said Southern Baptist researcher Ed Stetzer, the Billy Graham distinguished chair of church, mission and evangelism and dean of the School of Mission, Ministry and Leadership at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Il.
A coalition including worldwide UMC bishops and diverging advocacy groups has unanimously paved the way for the church to split into a new traditionalist Methodist denomination and other Methodist bodies, aimed at embracing varying views on homosexual marriage and ordination. “If the new denomination takes its orthodoxy on mission,
the new denomination may create new paths we all can learn from,” said Stetzer, former executive director of LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Nashville. The SBC has long upheld the existence of only two genders as qualified by Scripture, and biblical marriage between one
man and one woman as codified in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. The UMC group’s Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation would allow churches to join a new traditionalist Methodist denomination opposing homosexual marriage and ordination, and potentially additional smaller Methodist denominations with varying views, all with initial funding from UMC assets, the UMC Council of Bishops said in a press release. The 16-member mediation team plans to recommend the protocol be voted on at the United Methodist General Conference in May, addressing tensions that remain high after the 13-million-member church narrowly approved traditional
rules on homosexual marriage and ordination in 2019. Once formed, the new church would receive $25 million over the next four years and relinquish any further claim to UMC assets, the protocol reads. The UMC would allocate an additional two million dollars for any other new Methodist denominations which emerge from UMC. The proposal signals a clear line is being drawn in organized religion over the issues of homosexual marriage and ordination, Stetzer told Baptist Press. “With the United Methodist progressives now setting the agenda after the next general conference, whatever the UMC is called will join the other six sisters of mainline American Protestantism in a unity of progressive religion,” Stetzer said.
MS POSITIONS LIBERTY BAPTIST CHURCH IN WAYNESBORO IS SEEKING A FULLTIME PASTOR. Please send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org or 485 Old Hwy 84 Waynesboro, MS 39367. CENTER GROVE BAPTIST CHURCH, MABEN, MS, IS LOOKING FOR A PART-TIME DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN’S MINISTRY. If interested, please email email@example.com or call Rev. Thad Moore, Pastor, at 662-809-0914.
HIGHLAND BAPTIST CHURCH CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS IS SEEKING A FULL TIME PASTOR. Send resumes to Highland Baptist Church attn: Terry Rials 505 N. Jackson St. Crystal Springs, MS 39059 CENTER HILL BAPTIST CHURCH IN HAMILTON, MS IS SEEKING A FULLTIME YOUTH/MUSIC MINISTER. Housing provided. E-mail resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 59, Hamilton, MS 39746.
CLASSIFIEDS SEMI-RETIRED PASTOR SEEKS INTERIM OR PULPIT SUPPLY. Please call: 662-871-8913. NORRIS BOOKBINDING COMPANY, INC., OLD BIBLES REBOUND. Also, church bulletins and hymnals. For more information call 662-453-7424 or visit www.norrisbookbinding.com HOPPER STAINED GLASS: Custom windows, restoration and repairs, safety and insulated glass, custom aluminum and wood frames. Statewide 601-502-0202, www.hopperglass.net PULPIT SUPPLY AVAILABLE: Retired Southern Baptist Navy chaplain available for Sunday pulpit supply on short notice (pastor illness, vacation, rest, etc.). 100 mile radius of Hattiesburg. Deacon of Hardy Street Baptist Church. Graduate of New Orleans Baptist and Fuller Theological Seminaries. References available. Compensation unimportant. Contact him at 601-408-4608 or bennyhornsby.com
CHURCH PEW UPHOLSTERY, FREE ESTIMATES: Davis Upholstery, Quitman, Miss., phone 601-776-6617. WINDOW AND SCREEN SHOP — Windows and storm windows built to fit your opening. Plus new window screens and rescreen old screens. Call Tom Cook 601-709-4879. HEIDELBERG STAINED GLASS, MERIDAN. DESIGN, FABRICATION, REPAIR. Heidelbergstainedglass.com or call wk 601-483-7958 or cell 601-616-1390. WWW.SEBRENHOMEIMPROVEMENT. COM. CHRISTIAN OWNED DON & RITA SEBREN. 601-992-2092. All home improvements, siding, energy efficient windows, metal & shingle roofs, screen & sunrooms, patio covers, decks, room additions, kitchen & bath upgrades. GET THE BEST RATES ON: Health Insurance and Medicare Supplements. Call 1-800-541-8196 or visit www.TurnerInsuranceOnline.com.
The Baptist Record January 16, 2020 5
JUST FOR THE RECORD
The children’s choir of CALVARY CHURCH, PETAL, presented their Christmas musical, The Miracle at the Manger, Dec. 18.
The Children’s Department of FAITH CHURCH, WEST POINT, presented pastor Ben Yarber and wife Gwen a blanket featuring pictures of the children.
ESCATAWPA CHURCH, MOSS POINT, presented a live Nativity depicting the birth of Jesus Dec. 14 and 15. Pastor Matt Morse handed out tracts and fruit to visitors.
The children of CALVARY CHURCH, SUMMIT, presented Candles of Christmas Dec. 15. Melissa Touchstone, BreAnn Simpson, and Anita Alexander directed the program.
NEW PROSPECT CHURCH, OXFORD, held their 4th annual live Nativity presentation over three nights in December, with nearly 900 guests in attendance.
SYLVARENA CHURCH, RALEIGH, ordained Joel Houston as deacon. Shown are pastor Rusty Stockman, Houston’s mother Janice, Houston, wife Anna, children, and chairman of deacons George Brown.
The children’s choir of CALVARY CHURCH, COLUMBIA, presented The Joy of Christmas Dec. 15.
January 16, 2020 The Baptist Record
JUST FOR THE RECORD
Bill Jones, 91, helped MONTICELLO CHURCH, MONTICELLO, exceed their $10,000 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal by making a tree that tracked the goal’s progress.
Students from Parklane Academy, McComb, earned enough points to win Mississippi College’s quiz bowl Dec. 5. The students edged Jackson Prep by scoring 275 points to 265 for Jackson Prep. A total of 26 high school teams competed.
The youth and children of LITTLE BAHALA CHURCH, WESSON, presented Come Let Us Adore as their Christmas program.
The children of TOPEKA CHURCH, JAYESS, presented their Christmas program, Follow the Star, Dec. 22. Dale Authement, pastor.
FERNWOOD CHURCH, FERNWOOD, presented a youth and children’s program Dec. 15.
The children of VICTORY CHURCH, BASSFIELD, presented a Christmas program titled Jesus Calling: The Story of Christmas. Jim Roberson, interim pastor.
The Baptist Record January 16, 2020 7
Sexual abuse lawsuit names Arkansas Baptist entities HOT SPRINGS, Ar., (BP) — A lawsuit filed Dec. 16 alleges the former pastor of Millcreek Church in Hot Springs, Ar., engaged in sexual assault, battery, felonious conduct, and the tort of outrage/intentional infliction emotional distress of a minor. The former pastor, Teddy Leon Hill, retired from the church in 2018. The lawsuit also alleges Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) executive director James “Sonny” Tucker failed to report the suspected sexual abuse in the manner required by Arkansas law following a February 2018 meeting with Hill’s ex-wife, Carolyn Latham. The suit claims Latham personally contacted Tucker on multiple occasions to report her suspicions regarding Hill and specifically the sexual abuse of minor child identified only as Doe in the legal action. The lawsuit alleges Latham had reason to believe Hill was
abusing other minors in addition to Doe, but that after her alleged reporting of the conduct to Tucker, the abuse of Doe “was allowed to continue on multiple occasions and for months after.” Regarding the allegations related to Tucker, ABSC told Baptist Press in a statement released December 28, “These are serious allegations which the Arkansas Baptist State Convention is taking very seriously. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention and Dr. Tucker are being represented by the law firm of Friday, Eldredge & Clark, which is thoroughly investigating this matter. So far, our lawyers have seen no indication of impropriety on the part of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention or Dr. Tucker. “The Arkansas Baptist State Convention has long placed a high priority on ministry and safety for children and students. For several years, the Arkansas Baptist State Conven-
tion, under Dr. Tucker’s leadership, has been involved in an intentional, statewide safety and training emphasis to equip churches to better prevent and respond to sexual abuse.” In addition to the allegations regarding Hill and Tucker, the lawsuit seeks to hold Millcreek Church, Tucker, Diamond Lakes Association, and ABSC accountable for the actions of Hill. Millcreek Church is a cooperating church of the ABSC and the Diamond Lakes Baptist Association. The lawsuit claims the “defendants are part of a hierarchical institution in which there exists a system of oversight and control by ABSC over Diamond Lakes and Millcreek and Hill and by Diamond Lakes over Millcreek and Hill.” The suit claims that all parties were responsible for the care of Doe because of each defendant’s connection to one another.
ONEROUS CHURCH TAX MAY SOON BE DROPPED WASHINGTON (BP) — The repeal of a 21% federal tax on churches and other nonprofit organizations regarding employee benefits such as parking and transportation is winding its way through the U.S. Congress. The highly-criticized measure which took effect in 2018 could cost the charitable sector an estimated $1.7 billion in the next decade, according to foes of the law. Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission anticipates U.S. President Donald Trump will sign the repealer into law if passed by Congress.
COUNTRIES GUILTY OF PERSECUTION NOTED WASHINGTON, D.C. (BP) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Dec. 20 the re-designation of China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, and Myanmar (also known as Burma), as countries of particular concern (CPC), a category reserved under federal law for governments that have committed or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
FRIENDSHIP HOUSE MARKING 75 YEARS NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans is celebrating 75 years of Christian ministry. “Over the years, the different ministries have kind of changed at Friendship House to meet the needs that are the greatest in our city,” said Bennett, Baptist Friendship House’s executive director for over 20 years. “That’s kept it alive and vibrant as it has changed. New Orleans is known as the city that care forgot, but here at Friendship House we try to put a little bit of concern and care, help, and hope back in our people.”
MHHZ IVXNPHGKHP SC EWH GVKH VR TVO, GVVMSCT RVN EWH DHNLI VR VXN GVNO UHPXP LWNSPE XCEV HEHNCBG GSRH. UXOH EYHCEI-VCH Clue: U = J Have fun with cryptography and exercise your Bible knowledge. A King James Version Bible verse has been encoded by letter substitution. The same letter is substituted throughout the puzzle. Solve by trial and error. Answer to last week’s puzzle: John 6:65 By Charles Marx, 1932–2004, © 2005
January 16, 2020 The Baptist Record
DECEMBER 1-15 MEMORIALS Mr. Carr Haskins Mrs. Tena Haskins Ms. Susan Haskins Mrs. Tena Haskins Mrs. Gwen Hill Ms. Patricia Triplett Ms. Peggy A. Hills Mr. and Mrs. James R. Hills Ms. Wendy Champion Hood Mr. and Mrs. Terry E. Champion Mr. Scott Humphreys Mr. and Mrs. Glynn (Jean) Jones Ms. Jan Wall Iasigi Mr. and Mrs. William W. McGraw Mrs. Mary Jarrell Mr. Lamont Jarrell Dr. and Mrs. Bill Wolverton
Mr. Jerry Johnston Mr. and Mrs. Rob Riley Ms. Amy Jones Mr. and Mrs. Arthur (Alicia Powell) Burnett Rev. Robert L. Jones Mr. and Mrs. Glynn (Jean) Jones Mrs. Vickie Anne Young Kelly Mr. Andy Oakes James and Wilma Kidd Kidd Family Mrs. Priscilla Killens Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Humphreys Mr. Scott King Ms. Bobbie J. Statham Diane Lee John and Ellen Lee Lacey Claire Lee Dr. and Mrs. Bill Hurt Dr. and Mrs. Rory Lee Meredith Breanna Lee Mr. and Mrs. Billy (Shirley)
Hastings Mr. Louis C. Magee Mr. and Mrs. Ron (Nancy) Craddock Mr. and Mrs. George (Ruth) Massingale Mrs. Twila Rawson Ms. Johanna Massingale Mrs. Twila Rawson Ms. Bobbie Duncan McDowell Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Storey Mr. William McKenzie, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Reece (Martha) Douglas Mr. Hugh McWilliams Mrs. Stacy B. Bates Ms. Kathy Catchot Mrs. Lamar Chustz Mr. and Mrs. John Lochridge Mr. and Mrs. Bill Manning Mr. and Mrs. Joe McWilliams Mr. John Roy Moore Mr. and Mrs. Rob Riley Mrs. Faye Hensley Murphy Ms. Patricia Triplett Ms. Margaret Murphy Mr. and Mrs. Arthur (Alicia Powell) Burnett Mr. J. L. Nelson Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Humphreys Glenn, Ida Faye, Lennox, and Melvin Oglesby Mr. Wayne Oglesby Mrs. Doris Ola Mike and Brenda Dean Ronnie Oswalt Mr. and Mrs. Roland E. Oswalt Matt Owen Mr. Jimmy Slay Mr. and Mrs. J.V. (Mary K) Parker Mr. and Mrs. Michael W. Parker Mr. Alan Patterson Mrs. Twila Rawson Mr. Donald Patterson Mrs. Twila Rawson Mrs. Peggy Perrett Mike and Brenda Dean Barbara Perry Patsy Boyer Mr. Gene Phillips Mrs. Tena Haskins Jimmy Price Tommy and Debbi Brock Mrs. Juliaette Purser Mr. and Mrs. Douglas N. Allen Mrs. Martha Sue Roberts Mr. Andy Oakes Ms. Joyce Sandifer Ms. Carolyn Kinabrew Mr. Jimmy Dale Sartain Mike and Brenda Dean Mrs. Ruby Sasser
Mr. and Mrs. Reece (Martha) Douglas Mrs. Marilyn Schilling Don and Pam Tucker Mrs. Lee Ann Scoggin Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Humphreys Jim and Lovie Slay Mr. Jimmy Slay Sgt. James Earnest Slay Mr. Jimmy Slay Mr. Dan Southerland Ms. Ann Southerland Edward Williams Speights III Rachel James Mr. Bill Stringer Mr. and Mrs. Harold Lowery Mrs. Minnie Ruth Stringer Mr. and Mrs. Harold Lowery Ms. Christa Toler Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Van Norman Ms. Mildred M. Turner Mr. and Mrs. Bob L. Chain Mr. Bob Waller Mike and Brenda Dean Mr. Robert Duane Walters Pairs & Spares SSC Mr. and Mrs. Guy Thornton Mr. Herman Watts Naomi SSC, FBC Long Beach Mrs. Margaret Williams Ms. Nellie Ellington Ms. Pete Williams Ms. Ann Southerland Mrs. Jessie Williamson Ms. Janice M. Thames
PINE BLUFF BAPTIST CHURCH, COPIAH COUNTY, delivered to Dickerson Place Campus movie baskets filled with snacks and a DVD for each resident, along with a pair of pajamas.
DECEMBER 16-31 HONORS The Gipson Family Ms. Katherine M. Furr Surg Clinic Associates Employees Mr. Terry W. Hickman Children and Grandchildren of Bobby and Iris Mathews Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Mathews All current BCV Staff Dale and Teri Jackson Jerry and Cynthia Acy William Sykes Mr. and Mrs. Jim Albritton Mr. and Mrs. Barney (Paula) Albritton Mr. and Mrs. Paul D. Albritton Mr. and Mrs. Barney (Paula) Albritton Ms. Joyce Barnes Mr. and Mrs. Rodrick G. Oakman Lanelle Bergin Lydian SSC, FBC Soso Mrs. Jo Blackwell Petal‑Harvey BC Mr. Tony Blanchard Lydian SSC, FBC Soso
We are pleased to welcome Paula Bond as a houseparent at the POWELL-WALLEY CAMPUS, WAYNESBORO. Paula is from Demopolis, Alabama where she is a member of First Presbyterian Church Demopolis. Paula’s goal in ministry is to help children that are for whatever reason are unable to live at home in a healthy family setting, and to help raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In her spare time, Paula enjoys reading and fitness.
The Baptist Record January 16, 2020 9
cont. from p.1
He was Moderator for Greater New Orleans Baptist Association (1999-2001) and President of the New Orleans Baptist Association Pastors’ Conference (1995-1996). He served on the adjunct faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 2000-2003, and then again from 2011 to the present. Parker’s interdenominational ministry involvement includes Executive Board memberships for both Global Maritime Ministries in New Orleans (1994-2003) and Greater New Orleans Federation of Churches (1994-2003). Bobby Kirk released a statement to The Baptist Record after the meeting: “I would like to thank Mississippi Baptists for their faithfulness in praying for the search committee. One of the most rewarding and perhaps greatest challenges we faced as a committee was the fact that we received resumes from many well-qualified candidates, yet there is only one position. Ultimately, our responsibility was to seek the individual that the Lord God Almighty has ordained for this position. “God, in His perfect timing, has answered those prayers and blessed us with our next Executive Director-Treasurer, Dr. Shawn Parker. I encourage all Mississippi Baptists to join me in praying for Dr. Parker and his family as he begins his new ministry role.” Clarence Cooper, Senior Pastor of Brandon Baptist Church, Brandon, said, “As chairman of the Executive Committee for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, it is my privilege and honor to welcome Dr. Shawn Parker as our new Executive Director-Treasurer. “Dr. Parker is a man of God with a heart for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe Dr. Parker has the God-given gifts to lead our convention. He is a man of great character [and] integrity and will lead our convention as he has led the many churches he has pastored in the past. “Let’s get behind him with our prayers and support as we
Editor William H. Perkins Jr. email@example.com
Baptist Record Advisory Committee: Peggy Lee, Clinton Sam Gwin, Natchez Marvin Howard, Meadville Donna Markle, Madison Tanner Cade, Hattiesburg Ryan Reed, Newton
Associate Editor Tony Martin firstname.lastname@example.org Layout/Design Megan Young email@example.com
CONGRATULATIONS — Dean Stewart (right), Senior Pastor of LaBelle Haven Baptist Church in Olive Branch and a member of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, talks with Shawn Parker (left) and Parker’s wife Elizabeth after the Board voted to call Parker during a special called meeting Dec. 19 at Garaywa Camp and Conference Center in Clinton. (Photo by William H. Perkins Jr.) move into the years ahead.” Ken Hester, President of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Pontotoc, said, “Being a part of the Search Committee has been a humbling experience. The Search Committee was filled with men I highly respect. Their wisdom, insight, prayerfulness, and walk with the Lord has taught me a lot over the course of this search. We share a brotherhood and friendship that means a great deal to me. Mr. Bobby Kirk, in particular, has been a great leader. “Every man on the Search Committee wanted nothing less than to present the person we feel convinced that God has called to the position of the Executive Director-Treasurer, or we would not present him. We are convinced that Dr. Shawn Parker is the man God has called to be our next Executive Director-Treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board to shepherd us, as Mississippi Baptists, into the future.” “The Search Committee showed great patience and wisdom throughout the entire process of looking for a new Executive Director-Treasurer for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board,” said Jim Futral. “With so many outstanding candidates who were willing to be considered, it was a challenging and difficult task. “While there were so many
things that they certainly were looking for, one of the things all of them sought was someone who it became clear that God had led them to, and led him to the work. Dr. Shawn Parker was/is that man. “This long-time Mississippi pastor is a gifted servant of the Lord. He has the giftedness and the experience and the enormous shepherd’s heart that will enable him to carry out the task of leading this great state. The future is bright, and Dr. Parker deserves our support and love and encouragement as he moves from the pastorate into this much larger role of caring for the Lord’s church and the mission that He has given to us.” Parker has been married for over 29 years to wife Elizabeth, a native of Clarksville, Tenn., whom he met while attending Union University. They have two children: Ana Elisabeth, 22, a nurse in Columbus, and Nathaniel Nowell, 20, a student at Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College in Clinton. Parker will begin his duties as Executive Director-Treasurer Elect on Jan. 13 and will become Executive Director-Treasurer on March 1, upon Futral’s retirement. Editor’s note: This article is reposted from the Jan. 2 issue of The Baptist Record, due to technical difficulties with the original post.
Postmaster: Send changes of address to: The Baptist Record, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530.
Advertising Dana Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org
Send news, communication, and address changes to: The Editor, Baptist Record, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530.
Circulation Manager DeAnna Burgess email@example.com
Tel: (601) 968-3800 Fax: (601) 292-3330 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission Guidelines The Baptist Record is pleased to publish news and photographs of special events that take place in cooperating churches of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. News items and/ or photographs depicting benefits and activities for secular or outside organizations will not be published. Preferred method: news may be submitted electronically to the e-mail address below, and must be included in the message segment of an e-mail form. Secondary method: news may be typewritten or neatly printed on 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper and mailed. All articles must be received in writing; no articles will be accepted over the telephone. Due to ever-present virus threats, no text attachments will be accepted. Photograph attachments in JPEG format are permissible. Please make articles concise. Include the who, what, when, where details of the story, along with a contact person’s address and telephone number. Photographs must be submitted electronically via e-mail, as attachments in JPEG format. Hard copy photographs mailed through the
postal service will not be accepted. Photographs must be clear, sharp, and well-lighted. Photographs must depict people. No landscape-, building-, or object-only photographs will be printed. Photographs containing inappropriate gestures and objectionable clothing will not be published. Cell phone photographs and other low resolution items that do not reproduce well on newsprint are generally not publishable. There is no guarantee that news items and/or photographs will be published, and unsolicited material will not be acknowledged or returned. All news items are subject to editing, and all photographs are subject to cropping. News items and/ or photographs can be published one time only. Deadline for submitting news is one week prior to requested publication date. Articles that are not date-sensitive will be published on a space-available basis. These guidelines are not meant to be exhaustive. Submit news to The Baptist Record, P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205-0530. FAX: (601) 292-3330. E-mail: email@example.com.
VOLUME 144 • NUMBER 3 • ISSN-0005-5778 Published weekly except weeks of July 4 and Christmas by the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, 515 Mississippi Street, Jackson, MS 39201. Subscription $11.99 per year payable in advance. Economy plans available for cooperating Mississippi churches. Periodicals postage paid at Jackson, MS. Member, Association of State Baptist Papers. Deadlines: News items — one calendar week prior to requested publication date. Advertising — two calendar weeks prior to requested publication date. All submissions are subject to editing.
January 16, 2020 The Baptist Record
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS FOR JANUARY 19, 2020
Explore the Bible • Valued • Deuteronomy 5:17; 19:4-13 January 19 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. In churches all across America, people will be reminded that God values human life and expects His people to value it as well. Prohibition (Deut. 5:17). The Hebrews had multiple words meaning, “to kill.” The word used in Deuteronomy 5:17 and in Exodus 20:13 is tirzach, referring specifically to premeditated murder. The prohibition consists of this verb preceded by the negative particle, lo’, the strongest negating word in Hebrew. To get the full impact of this prohibition, we could translate lo’ tirzach as “Don’t even begin to think about killing someone!” Premeditated murder was considered sin because it costs other human beings their lives. Premeditated murder was viewed as attacking the image of God in creation (Gen. 9:6). Only humans are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:2627). The sin was so serious and
the crime so heinous that it called for the death penalty (Exod. 21:12,14). Simply stated, God forbids premeditated murder. Grace (Deut. 19:4-10). What if the death was not premeditated? Would the death sentence still be appropriate? Does lo’ tirzach pertain to involuntary manslaughter? In Deut. 19:4, the word “manslayer” (NASB), renders the active participial form of the same verb found in Deut. 5:17. However, the context provides added information to direct the reader away from seeing this as a case of premeditated murder. Instead, involuntary manslaughter is in view. First, the man killed his friend “unintentionally, not hating him previously” (Deut. 19:4). Second, a clarifying example is given of two men going into the forest to cut wood. While there, his axe head slips off the handle, hitting and killing his friend (Deut. 19:5). Third, the man is said to
with W. Wayne VanHorn be “not deserving of death, since he had not hated him previously” (Deut.19:6). Finally, the man is referred to as “innocent blood” should he be killed in retaliation (Deut. 19:10). In cases of unintentional human death, God provided cities of refuge (Deut. 19:2-4). These cities, three on each side of the Jordan river, were placed so that there was one no more than 30 miles from any given point in the promised land. Those involved in unintentional manslaughter could flee to a city of refuge to escape retaliation from the deceased man’s family.
The phrase, “avenger of blood,” renders the Hebrew term, go’el. The go’el was authorized to avenge a relative’s blood by killing his killer. Certain property rights were involved in the go’el’s responsibilities also as revealed in the story of Ruth. The cities of refuge were designed to provide protection to the manslayer lest he be killed by the go’el in the height of emotions over the death of his relative. Justice (Deut. 19:11-13). Having clarified that involuntary manslaughter was not considered a capital crime, Moses returned to the issue of premeditated murder. In Deut. 19:11, he identified the murderer as one “who hates his neighbor” (NASB). Guided by hate, he “lies in wait for him and rises up against him and strikes him.” The clause, “so he dies,” seems to be understated for such an egregious act. Moses contemplated the eventuality that such a murderer would seek to avail himself
of the city of refuge by fleeing to “one of these cities.” Moses prescribed the due process of law by directing the elders of the city to take the murderer from the city of refuge and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, the go’el (Deut. 19:12). The last clause of this verse, “that he may die,” utilizes the same verbal form used in the previous verse to indicate the death of the victim of this murder. Thus, capital punishment was prescribed for capital murder. The final verse of our focal passage goes even further. Those worthy of capital punishment were not to be pitied, because the punishment was deemed necessary to “purge the blood of the innocent from Israel.” Additionally, the purging was deemed necessary “that it may go well” with the people. VanHorn is dean of Christian Studies at Mississippi College, Clinton.
Bible Studies for Life • How Can God Use Me When Others Suffer? • Isaiah 58:3-11 It’s important to understand to whom the book of Isaiah was written, and why. The Prophet Isaiah was primarily called to prophesy to the Kingdom of Judah. Judah was going through times of revival and rebellion. Threatened with destruction by Assyria and Egypt, Judah was spared because of God’s mercy. Isaiah proclaimed a message of repentance from sin and hopeful expectation of God’s deliverance. Isaiah has some strong words for those who call themselves followers of God. The verse prior to our focal passage (Isaish 58:3) sets up our lesson, “For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.” Their
outward expressions of worship and devotion seem right on target. They ask God in verse three, “Why have you not noticed us — we have fasted and we have humbled ourselves?” The answer from God through Isaiah was not the expected answer. Isaiah was quick to tell them that their fasting was not from their hearts. Their fasting was for selfish purposes and personal gain. The reality was that even on a day when they fasted, they still exploited their employees. God didn’t accept their fasting when it wasn’t in tune with a sincere heart of obedience. At the end of their fasts, they continued their bitterness and anger. Yet still the people of Judah expected God to hear them. Because they did not hear from God, they became indignant and arrogant toward him. God rebukes their empty
with Beth S. Bowman show of fasting and outward appearance of devotion. Even though they do the right things, their hearts were far from devoted to God. Doesn’t this make you think of stories of the Pharisees from the New Testament? They trusted and practiced empty rituals for the sake of their image. They wanted to appear religious but their religion had not impacted how they conducted their lives. In Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18, the self-righteous Pharisee made it a point to say, “I fast
twice a week.” God sees through the empty religious rituals that we practice and He calls us for something more: a true relationship with Him. In Isaiah 58, God calls his followers to not simply attempt to show off their religion through fasting but to stop oppressing people and acting wickedly toward them. Our devotion to God could be best expressed through acting Godly and responding to those around us who are hurting. Verse eight turns the corner for us with the word, “Then…” If God’s people would couple their fasting with lives of righteousness and love and kindness toward others, they would see their prayers answered. Their lives would be full of light, healing, righteousness, and most importantly, the Glory of the Lord. When they called out to God, the Lord would answer.
This lesson, more than any other we have studied so far, spoke to me. As a follower of Jesus, I have found myself with empty worship and selfish actions way more times than I care to think about, but I so long to hear from God! Don’t you? I long to see Him work in my life and the lives of my family in miraculous ways! For me, it’s the issue of racism. So many times I have sat quietly by while people of color have been treated unfairly. I pray this lesson speaks to your heart in the areas in which God is calling you to boldly represent him, and that nothing will stop you from the priority of worshiping Him in your heart and in your love toward others. Bowman is a conference speaker, Lifeway contract writer and member of West Carthage Church, Carthage.
The Baptist Record January 16, 2020 11
China sentences yet another pastor in religious liberty case SICHUAN, China (BP) — The United States and the European Union are urging China to free pastor Wang Yi, sentenced to nine years in prison in what religious liberty advocates describe as Christian persecution. China pronounced Wang guilty Dec. 30 of “illegal business operations” and “inciting subversion of state power,” convictions religious liberty advocates say stem solely from his leadership as founding pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed alarm at Wang’s sentence based on charges that Pompeo said were “trumped up” and issued with no defense lawyer present. “We call for his immediate and unconditional release,” Pompeo said in a Dec. 31 statement. “This is yet another example of Beijing’s intensification of repression of Chinese Christians and members of other religious groups. “We continue to call on Beijing to uphold its international commitments and promises made in its own constitution to promote religious freedom for all individuals, including members of ethnic and religious minorities, and those who worship outside of official state-sanctioned institutions.” European Union spokesman Peter Stano issued a similar appeal on New Year’s Day. “The E.U. is concerned about restrictions on freedom of religion and belief in China and calls for immediate release of Pastor Wang Yi, who was tried in secret and sentenced to nine years in prison in connection to his peaceful advocacy of freedom of religion,” Stano tweeted. Wang responded to his sentence in a message that Early Rain church posted on Facebook, as reported by religious
IMPRISONED — Persecuted Chinese pastor Wang Yi, shown with his wife Jiang Rong, was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges stemming from his leadership of Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan, China. (BP photo courtesy of ChinaAid) liberty advocate Open Doors USA on Dec. 30. “I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ,” Wang reportedly stated on Facebook. “Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.” China also stripped Wang of his political rights for three years and will seize nearly $7,200 of his assets, the New York Times reported. Religious liberty advocate Bob Fu, founder and president of ChinaAid and a native of China, on Dec. 30 called Wang’s imprisonment “a
pure case of unjust religious persecution against a peaceful preacher of a Chinese reformed church.” “This grave sentence demonstrates [Chinese President Xi Jingping’s] regime is determined to be the enemy of universal values and religious freedom,” Fu said. “We call upon the international community to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party and hold this evil regime accountable.” Open Doors CEO David Curry said China is trying to turn both state and underground churches into a Chinese church, not a church of Jesus. “There will be even more pressure on the Body of Christ in China,” Curry said in a press release.” The government is trying to force out unregistered churches.” Wang’s sentence is one of the latest moves in China’s systemic persecution of Christians, Muslims, and other religious minorities. Wang had been imprisoned nearly a full year before the Dec. 26 trial, detained after officials raided the church in late 2018.
January 16, 2020 The Baptist Record