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content for learning. context for living

Bringing Baptists

together JULY 2011 • NORTH CAROLINA


Petra High place of sacrifice demands a response 4






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contents July 2011 Vol. 29, No. 7 STAFF John D. Pierce Executive Editor


Julie Steele Chief Operations Officer Jackie B. Riley Managing Editor



Tony W. Cartledge Contributing Editor

In search and praise of imagination 7 By John Pierce

Bruce T. Gourley Online Editor

Communication the key to good transitions 9 By Chris Gambill with Natalie Aho

David Cassady Church Resources Editor

Stewardship looks better from the ‘balcony’ 33 By John Hewett

Steve DeVane Contributing Writer

Cooperative missions changing, not dead 36 By Steve Vernon

Vickie Frayne Art Director Jannie Lister Office Assistant Kimberly L. Hovis Marketing Associate Walker Knight, Publisher Emeritus



IN THE NEWS ‘Sujay’ sworn in as religious freedom envoy 11

Jack U. Harwell, Editor Emeritus

MLK’s daughter leaves Atlanta-area megachurch 11 Ayn Rand v. Jesus? 12


Ga. church diverts funds from “Calvinist” SBC seminaries 13 FEATURES

Keith Herron answers six questions about CBF 32 N.C., Belize build long-term partnerships church-to-church 42 By Steve Devane Personal relationships key to church-to-church program in Belize 43 By Steve Devane

cover photo

by Tony W. Cartledge

Petra in Jordan calls for prayer and contemplation

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Two-thirds of Americans OK with Mormon candidate 11

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Gary F. Eubanks, Marietta, Ga. (chairman) Kelly L. Belcher, Spartanburg, S.C., (vice chair) Z. Allen Abbott, Peachtree City, Ga. Jimmy R. Allen, Big Canoe, Ga. Nannette Avery, Signal Mountain, Tenn. Thomas E. Boland, Alpharetta, Ga. Huey Bridgman, The Villages, Fla. Mary Jane Cardwell, Waycross, Ga. Robert Cates, Rome, Ga. Jack Causey, Statesville, N.C. Anthony D. Clevenger, Pensacola, Fla. Kenny Crump, Ruston, La. David Currie, San Angelo, Texas James M. Dunn, Winston-Salem, N.C. R. Kirby Godsey, Macon, Ga. Ben Gross, Chattanooga, Tenn. Leslie D. Hill, Lexington, Ky. Michael M. Massar, Sugar Land, Texas J. Thomas McAfee, Macon, Ga. Michael G. Queen, Wilmington, N.C. Lee Royal, Greensboro, N.C. Mary Etta Sanders, Dalton, Ga. Charles Schaible, Macon, Ga. Macon Sheppard, Folly Beach, S.C. Walter B. Shurden, Macon, Ga. Charlotte Cook Smith, Winston-Salem, N.C. David M. Smith, Houston, Texas Leo Thorne, Valley Forge, Pa. Sarah Timmerman, Cairo, Ga. David Turner, Richmond, Va. Clement H. White, St. Petersburg, Fla. Winnie V. Williams, Seneca, S.C.

Fellowship’s mission strategy not ‘radically altered’ by UN goals 37 By Jack Glasgow

Story on page 4

Quotation Remarks




In the Know




Lighter Side


Baptists and the Civil War






An autonomous national news journal since 1983



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READERS SERVICES Mission Statement Baptists Today serves churches by providing a reliable source of unrestricted news coverage, thoughtful analysis, helpful resources and inspiring features focusing on issues of importance to Baptist Christians. Advertising • Print and online ads for purchase separately or in combination • Frequency discounts available • Rate card: • Inquiries: Individual and Gift Subscriptions • $20 (1 yr.) / $35 (2 yrs.) • Credit card: / 478-301-5655 / 1-877-752-5658 • Check: Baptists Today, P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA 31208-6318 Group and Bulk Subscriptions • $18 (1 yr.) / min. 25 orders / pd. by single check or credit card • Group sent to individual addresses / Bulk sent to single address • Credit card: / 478-301-5655 / 1-877-752-5658 • Check: Baptists Today, P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA 31208-6318 Single Issues • $4 (includes postage) • Credit card: / 478-301-5655 / 1-877-752-5658 • Check: Baptists Today, P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA 31208-6318 Tax-deductible Gifts • Online: • Phone: 478-301-5655 / 1-877-752-5658 • Mail: Baptists Today, P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA 31208-6318 • Information on designated gifts or estate planning: • Baptists Today, Inc., is a 501(c)3 not-for profit charitable organization. Letters to the Editor • Limit to 200 words • Email: • Include name, city, state, phone Writing Submissions • Unsolicited manuscripts welcomed for consideration • Email: Contact Information • 478-301-5655 / 1-877-752-5658 • • Baptists Today, P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA 31208-6318

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God speaking Petra’s high place of sacrifice demands response When returning to Petra in Jordan recently — this time, bringing with me a group of students, friends and alumni from Campbell University Divinity School — I wanted most to visit the high place of sacrifice. t is not a popular destination in Petra: most visitors never see it, and there’s not even a sign at the foot of the steep stairway, nearly hidden behind a row of souvenir shops, that leads to it. But that’s where I wanted to go. The Nabatean city of Petra has been acclaimed as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and for good reason. The Nabateans were primarily merchants who controlled the trade routes between Saudi Arabia and countries to the north. They flourished especially during the last two centuries before Christ and the first century after, when they were finally conquered by the Romans. Petra is located in the southern part of what is now Jordan, in a narrow valley surrounded by precipitous mountains on every side, and accessible only through the mile-long Bab al-Siq, a crack in the mountains resulting from a major earthquake long ago. The mountains are made of sandstone, in colors ranging from yellow to orange to red to brown, often in striated patterns. When one first emerges from the siq, he or she is greeted by the stunning façade of an ancient edifice known popularly as the “Treasury,” though it never served that purpose. Most people know the Treasury as the setting for the climactic scene in the movie


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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a sequence in which all of the interior beyond the structure’s single large room is imaginary. Turning right and walking down the valley, one sees scores of similar tombs, fashioned for royalty or wealthy city dwellers, on every side. The beauty of the structures is that they all were carved directly into the mountainsides — ancient architects had to design what they wanted, then chisel away the extraneous stone until what remained was an impressive façade. In most cases, the elaborate doors led to a single room containing niches for the dead. The remains of an impressive city built in typical Roman style can be found at the valley bottom. Adventurous souls can climb more than 900 uneven rock-hewn steps to the largest of the tombs, inappropriately called the “Monastery,” located on the backside of one of the surrounding mountains. Fewer people make the effort to see the high place of sacrifice, which requires a similar winding climb through the Wadi al-Mahfur,



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The Challenge of Being Baptist: Owning a Scandalous Past and an Uncertain Future by Bill J. Leonard

Media A review by Bruce Gourley

(2010, Baylor University Press)

For good or bad, democracy is the Baptist way of doing church Democracy is both the genius of, and the problem with, being Baptist — suggests Bill Leonard, a leading interpreter of Baptist life, in this brief, easily readable survey of historical Baptist themes.


t the heart of Baptist polity is democracy, a “messy, controversial, and divisive” foundation for doing church, writes the longtime professor of church history and former dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. While subject to the changing will of the majority, democracy nonetheless preserves ever-important minority, dissenting viewpoints. For much of the 400 years of Baptists’ existence, they were a minority faith. Often Bruce Gourley persecuted by colonial-era “Christian” theocracies, Baptist dissenters fought back by championing religious liberty for all and separation of church and state. Yet in the 20th century Baptists became a powerful, majority faith, and their commitments to their heritage wavered. In the words of Leonard, “as a religious community, Baptists have never done well with privilege.” At the heart of Leonard’s framing of Baptists’ “scandalous past” lies an early faith rejected by orthodox Christianity and welcoming of internal contradictions. Baptists’ refusal to embrace creeds led to their branding as heretics, while the co-existence of competing Arminian and Calvinist theologies within the Baptist family guaranteed a legacy of schisms. Early Baptist community, in short, was founded upon the principle of soul liberty as expressed in freedom of conscience and lived out in dissent within and without. Early Baptists’ vocal insistence upon freedom of

religion for all persons did little to discourage criticism and persecution from other Christians. Such was Baptists’ commitment to freedom that they were “obsessed with conscience and voice for heretic and atheist alike,” Leonard observed, lending credibility to charges of theological impropriety and civil offenses. Becoming a Baptist was not for the faint of heart, and being a Baptist required courage in the face of the ever-present threat of persecution. Against this historical legacy of a defiant, dissenting minority faith free and uncoerced to the point of being scandalous, Leonard examines current divisions in Baptist life. Noting that multiple ways of being Baptist are evidenced to this day, Leonard finds strength in permissive diversity. From biblical interpretation to conversion to church polity, the Baptist narrative yesteryear and today is comprised of many evolving stories that sometimes seem to be more at odds with one another than they are similar. While the dynamic nature of Baptist faith past, present and future makes some contemporary Baptists uncomfortable, Leonard demurs. Well aware is the author that religious, generational, social, cultural, political, technological and other challenges of the 21st century frame the larger perspective of that which today’s Baptists are becoming, creating a desire on the part of some to retrench around a stack pole of theological certainty or rigid organizational structure. Yet Leonard warns against a modern desire to force the Baptist name into creedal straightjackets or denominational exclusivity. Whether one chooses to verbalize the Baptist name or not in the 21st century, Leonard points Baptists toward a future from the past. The early English Baptists at Amsterdam, he reminds us, were a community of confessing believers united in their commitment to freedom of conscience and dissent (both expressed in the radical concept of believer’s baptism); voluntarily gathered together in

local congregations; and affirming of biblical authority and guidance under the direction of the Holy Spirit. And thus Bill Leonard positions the Baptist future upon the confessions and faith of the earliest Baptists, who four centuries ago stood up in dissent and transformed the trajectory of Christianity. In the face of an uncertain 21st century future, The Challenge of Being Baptist is to stand firm upon the freedom of individual conscience, devoted to the community of the faithful and committed to the messiness of democratic polity. BT —Bruce Gourley is executive director of the Baptist History & Heritage Society in addition to serving as online editor for Baptists Today.

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BY STEVE DEVANE, Contributing Writer


Church N.C., Belize congregations build long-term partnerships


ellowship churches in North Carolina are learning the value of long-term relationships with churches in Belize. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina has had a partnership with the Baptist Association of Belize since 2004, but N.C. Baptist churches began sending mission teams to the Latin American country years earlier. Linda Jones, CBFNC’s missions coordinator, said mission trips to Belize have advantages over other international destinations. People in Belize speak English, and the country is not as far away as some places. Jones said mission teams from CBFNC churches do medical work, construction, Vacation Bible Schools and leadership training. CBFNC officials let churches determine their own mission strategies, but encourage long-term agreements with churches in Belize. The “church-to-church” program helps foster relationships that make trips more meaningful and effective, Jones said. Henry Baizar, executive secretary-treasurer for the Baptist Association of Belize, serves as the in-country coordinator for the church-tochurch program. People and churches in Belize benefit from the program, he said. “For one, they both get the assistance they need to grow,” he said. “The people and churches also get to see that others are more than willing to help and with time, they begin to emulate that behavior with others in their neighborhood (and) many of them have begun to reach out to the community.” Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh has been partnering with Lagoon Road Baptist Church in Belize for three years, according to Hal Melton, the associate pastor and minister with

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As part of a health-care mission team, Dr. Melanie Orange examines patients at a Baptist church in Belize. Photos courtesy of First Baptist Church of Marion, N.C.

adults at Trinity. In that time the church has sent five mission teams to Belize, he said. Melton said church members from Trinity focused on construction during the first, second and fourth trips. “When we met co-pastors Ed Mohabir and Modesto Chiac in 2008, they were a fairly new congregation with about 75 in attendance, but with only a large single room which they used for adult Sunday school and worship,” he said. “Children and teens met under a thatch-roofed shelter next to the church, and the Spanish speakers met in a school bus owned by the church.” Teams from Trinity worked with members of Lagoon Road to construct a building with four large Sunday school classrooms and two restrooms with plumbing. Before the building was finished, church members used an outhouse. In 2010, another team led the first Vacation Bible School for St. Margaret’s Village, where the church is located, and nearby villages. Melton said the pastors told team members that 150

Michelle Burleson (kneeling) and Darnell Dietrich paint the exterior of St. Jude Primary School in Camelote Village in Belize.

would be a huge goal, so they prepared for 175. “By the final day of the VBS, we had 287 children in attendance,” Melton said. “You know that story in the Bible about the loaves and fishes? You should have seen our craft supplies.” A dentist and dental assistant on that team also saw all the children who came to VBS. The dentist from Trinity, Dr. Herb Land, was so excited that he determined to take a full-blown medical and dental team the next year. That team went to Belize in May with two medical doctors, two dentists, an optometrist, two nurses, two dental assistants, a dental hygienist, a sterilization specialist and others. Counting each visit with a doctor, dentist or optometrist as a separate patient visit, they saw 1,157 patients in five days at the church. “It was a very busy five days, but wow, what God did with patients as well as the team during those five days,” Melton said. First Baptist Church in Marion has been sending teams to Belize since 2005, according to Scott Hagaman, the church’s pastor. The church has longstanding relationships with many churches there, but the closest are with Belmopan and Santa Elena Baptist churches. Many of the trips have focused on construction, including work on churches, children’s homes, a camp, schools and single-family housing. Church members also have held free medical clinics in isolated villages. Over the last two years, church members have added an emphasis on music and agriculture to the trips. “Our handbell team helped Belmopan Baptist Church start their own handbell choir,” Hagaman said. “On the agriculture side, we



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Personal relationships are ‘where it’s at’ BY STEVE DEVANE

T Pastor Catarino Pop of Punta Gorda Baptist Church in Belize receives a Ke’chi language Proclaimer (an audio Bible) from Scott Hagaman, pastor of First Baptist Church of Marion, N.C.

have worked in cattle insemination, chicken distribution and vegetable plant distribution.” Hagaman said building long-term relationships is vital for successful mission partnerships. “Now that we have been going to Belize for over six years, we have seen the fruit of those long-term relationships,” he said. “It’s a matter of building trust and mutual appreciation.” Over time, two churches can work together to achieve the best for both, Hagaman said. Church members from First Baptist try to bolster the ministry efforts of the partner churches instead of imposing an agenda. “The longer we have gone, the more we have learned to listen as the Belize churches discern their needs,” he said. “Then, we come alongside them to help them achieve their goals.” BT

he Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s church-to-church program in Belize has led to strong bonds between members of the churches. “We think relationships for the kingdom of God are where it’s at,” said Linda Jones, CBFNC’s missions coordinator.” Henry Baizar, executive secretarytreasurer for the Baptist Association of Belize, said the bonds between mission team members and individuals in Belize are the best part of the program. “This is especially so with returning team members,” he said. “Every year we get to watch this bond of friendship grow deeper.” Friends in North Carolina and Belize stay in contact through letters, e-mails, Facebook and instant messaging. “I view the establishment of relationships as something very important and rewarding, for both sides,” he said. “It makes interaction between the groups and the individuals in the communities and church so much easier and less awkward. I

feel blessed to be able to see these relationships forged and watch them grow year after year.” Scott Hagaman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marion, N.C., said church members have established deep relationships with the owners of homes that mission teams built in Belize. The bonds are especially strong with a single mom raising two boys and an elderly widower who lives alone, he said. “Both of these people lived in pitiful conditions before their new homes were completed,” he said. “They have been so appreciative to our teams. Every time we return, some of our team members visit and check in with both families.” A member of First Baptist who is an agricultural extension livestock specialist has become friends with a Belizean pastor who also works in livestock. Hagaman said the two have been “dreaming big dreams to improve the agriculture of Belize.” “Most of their efforts have the potential to be the most far-reaching and selfsustaining of any projects we do in Belize,” he said. BT

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Baptists Today | July 2011 | NC Edition  

North Carolina edition of the July 2011 issue of Baptists Today

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