The (most) Amazing Race • Christmas season devotions on page 13
Volume 107, No. 19
IB Insider Needed today: Holy boldness page 7 Words & pictures: 9 preachers, 11 singers in 3 days page 9 It’s in the bag page 11
Mobile Nativity takes Gospel to the streets page 12 From Lottie Moon’s kitchen page 15
NOVEMBER 25, 2013
Baptists aid after deadly tornadoes Illinois response
By Meredith Flynn
Washington, Ill. | Joshua Monda stood just outside his church Sunday morning, watching a powerful tornado churn on the horizon a half-mile away. He shot video with his cell phone before calling the few other church members standing outside to get inside. Sirens sound just as the video ends. Twenty-four hours later, Monda stands in a WalMart parking lot in a part of Washington not blocked off by police and first responders. Pastor Monda made it to First Baptist Church briefly that morning, but his office is on the move as he tries to meet immediate needs in the aftermath of an EF-4 tornado that flattened parts of Washington. Several other communities all over the state suffered fatalities and severe damage from tornadoes on November 17. Immediately after the tornado, Monda posted his cell phone number on Facebook for anyone needing assistance. He has received calls from all Continued on page 3
STRUCK DOWN – This is what remains of Bill and Shirley Sadler's home in Washington. The chairman of deacons at First Baptist Church and his wife were at church Sunday morning when a tornado devastated whole neighborhoods. Photo by Joshua Monda
• Chainsaw teams working and more on standby
After the vote Guidance for churches now that same-sex marriage is legal
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• Volunteers prepare more than 2,000 meals a day
2013 Annual Meeting Special report starts on page 7
Messengers take a stand
Springfield | The 107th Annual Meeting of the Illinois Baptist State Association brought messengers together Nov. 13-14 under one theme with three pieces: Churches, Together, Advancing the Gospel. “Last year we introduced this as the ‘heart cry’ for our work together as churches,” IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams said. “Illinois is our mission field. The Illinois Baptist State Association is who we are, but ‘Mission Illinois’ describes what we must do!” For two days at the Springfield Hilton, 455 registered messengers and 41 guests heard reports focused on the
business side of cooperation, and celebrated how God is drawing people to Himself through the planting of new churches across the state. Messengers gathered just blocks away from where, one week earlier, Illinois lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The challenge of being the church in the current culture was a topic for speakers at the IBSA Pastors’ Conference and the Annual Meeting, and the subject of a resolution messengers adopted unanimously. “The value system is shifting so we look like the bad guys, the outlaws, Continued on page 2
Springfield | After the General Assembly voted to make Illinois the 15th state in the Union to allow same-sex marriages, many Christians asked themselves, “What do we do now?” “We need to remember our own sinfulness as we deal with people who are struggling with sin and remember that our sin is why Christ died,” said Tim Sadler, IBSA director of evangelism. “So we approach other sinners with grace, with the message of hope.” The action taken November 5 by the General Assembly created a new environment for Southern Baptists and their churches to minister in Illinois. Some feel the rules have changed, but Sadler shared God has already paved the way for them. “We stand on the precedent of thousands of years of history and the clear teaching of Scripture. So while it is admirable and right to stand in disagreement with the law, it is not acceptable to be unkind or un-Christ-like toward anyone.” He reminds Illinois Baptists, “Every person is created in the image of God and therefore has value. Jesus, in His Continued on page 6
IN FOCUS ILLINOIS BAPTIST
Churches consider next moves after same-sex marriage is legalized Continued from page 1
earthly ministry, was around ‘sinners’ (Luke 15:1-2). He never mitigated nor compromised the Gospel. He never condoned sin. But the Scripture shows that He had compassion for the people who were broken, hurting, and lost.”
The new law does, however, raise legal questions about churches’ rights and religious freedoms. The language in SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, does not obligate clergy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies if it violates their religious beliefs. It also does not force churches to allow such ceremonies to be held on their premises, according to lawmakers who advocated its passage. However, the law does not permit people or religious institutions to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to rent facilities for a same-sex marriage ceremony, if they are available for rent by the general public. In order to be protected, those facilities must be available for rent by members only. Because of how the law is written, IBSA’s Sylvan Knobloch advises local churches to examine their constitution and bylaws, and policy manuals, to affirm their position on marriage and to state more clearly eligibility for use of their facilities.
TAKING THE VOTE – Advocates packed the House gallery on Nov. 5. before lawmakers voted, making Illinois the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
nois Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In addition, no conscience protections are given to faith-based hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, nursing homes and social service agencies.
LAST PROTEST – Conservative Christians rallied at the state Capitol Oct. 23 hoping to prevent a House vote on same-sex marriage.
“Scripture and doctrinal truths stated in the amendment underscore the conviction that God create men and women that they mutually complete one another in the marriage relationship. The amendment identifies the SBC’s doctrinal position on marriage and declares the local church’s affirmation of the sanctity of marriage.” In lawsuits in other states where same-sex marriage has been made legal, courts have held churches accountable for obeying their own constitutional standards. IBSA has made available a sample church bylaw to assist churches with this issue at www.IBSA.org/ssm. While the law provides protections for clergy, it does not provide protections to individuals such as bakers, wedding photographers, florists and others who, based on their religious beliefs do not choose to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies. The text of the bill does not provide such exemptions from the Illi-
So, what are Christians to do? Sadler says it’s important to share the Gospel with all unbelievers, beginning with discussion of God. “God created a sinless world,” he noted. “Man chose to disobey God and sin entered into the world; and as Paul teaches, death comes because of sin. “God, from eternity past, chose to send His only begotten Son to die a substitutionary death on the cross, taking upon Himself the sin of all humanity and bearing in His body the wrath of the Father toward sin. And as John’s gospel attests, ‘But to all who did receive him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:12-13). “What a person believes about homosexuality does not affect where we should begin when sharing our faith. Jesus died because the sentence of death was upon all humanity.” Sadler also provides this advice to churches wondering how to respond when same-sex couples and their children begin attending worship services and children’s events. “I can think of no better place on this earth than sitting under the preaching and teaching of the word of God,” he offered. “Attendance? Absolutely. Leadership in the church? No.” While many Christians say they are advocates of “traditional marriage,”
Sadler takes a different approach. “Our reason for advocating ‘biblical marriage’ is not because of tradition, because sometimes traditions are wrong, but because the Bible is never wrong.” Redefining marriage as the state of Illinois has done, separates the state from the church in an important way. “Biblical marriage is a picture of the relationship that Christ has with His
church,” Sadler says. “At this point the Bible is both descriptive of marriage between one man and one woman for life and prescriptive of marriage between one man and one woman for life. In the one flesh relationship we can clearly see the relationship of Christ and His church – the bridegroom and the bride.”
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