Shorthand written by religious liberty icon Roger Williams is deciphered, revealing a theological essay. PAGE 10
Can a court keep Baptists from praying? And are churches willing to face the hard questions before them? PAGE 19
Strategic venue Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond announces new location. PAGE 2
April 8, 2013 • Volume 186 • No. 7
With today’s trends toward pets you can fit into a purse and church experiences that offer more intimacy and socialization than the megachurch has traditionally provided, is it safe to ask ...
the new big?
Virginia News 2 • April 8, 2013
advance look at the seminary’s new home April 1. “This location is so much more than I ever expected,” said student government moderator Lacy Kendrick. “I can’t wait to start classes here in September.” Charlotte Evans said the site “embodies the energy, enthusiasm and educational excelcally-located venue” will lence of BTSR.” Another stuenhance BTSR’s mission. dent, Kristen Koger, was struck “In some ways the semiby future possibilities. “The nary is moving nearer the space gives us plenty of opporintersection with modern life tunity for growth and creativiBTSR PHOTO ty,” she said. The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, which has leased space on BTSR’s campus, will join the seminary at its new site. “The Hymn Society has enjoyed being a part of the BTSR community over the past three years and we look forward to continuing our partnership in a new location with space designed especially for our needs,” said executive director Deborah Carlton Loftis. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia, which mainBTSR trustee chair Virginia Darnell and Bert Browning, chair of the tains offices on the current seminary relocation committee, unveil a sign in front of a building that campus, has been considering will house the school’s new campus. relocation options but has not yet announced plans. CBFVA — off an interstate exit in a been built out just for BTSR. field coordinator Rob Fox said quaint setting near a commerThis new facility will help us in January he was exploring cial center with Starbucks, grow and continue to fulfill our space at churches in the Walmart, Lowe’s, two grocery mission. We are the same Richmond area. stores, Firehouse Subs, school, with the same values Robert Dilday (rdilday@ Subway, a beer distributor, a and dreams in a new location.” religiousherald.org) is managing laboratory, a community colStudents were given an editor of the Religious Herald.
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond announces new location in office park four miles north of campus BY ROBERT DILDAY RICHMOND — Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond will move this summer to a new location in an office complex about four miles north of its current campus, seminary officials announced April 2. The nearly 17,000-square foot building in Villa Park, near the intersection of Brook and Parham roads and about a half mile from Interstate 95, is being refurbished to provide classrooms, offices, a study area and a student lounge. Renovations will be completed in time for the fall semester. The commercial complex is named for nearby St. Joseph’s Villa, a 179-year-old children’s home started by a Catholic religious order but which now maintains a non-sectarian identity. “A diligent search has led us to a property uniquely suited for BTSR’s commitment to theological education in the 21st century,” Bert Browning, a Richmond pastor who chairs the seminary’s relocation committee, said in a press release. “The new site will allow the seminary flexibility and a fresh setting in which to engage a new generation of students. It
will give BTSR a platform like no other seminary for fulfilling its mission." The relocation will complete a process begun in March 2011, when trustees approved the sale of the seminary’s campus and eventual move, both to broaden BTSR’s mission and to achieve financial stability. The 21-year-old school has been at its current location since 1997, when it bought buildings originally owned by the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, across the street from Union Theological Seminary. Trustees authorized president Ron Crawford to sign a lease on a new site at their meeting March 18. BTSR is selling about 60 percent of its campus to Veritas School, a private K-12 Christian academy. The seminary will temporarily retain ownership of one building — Kraemer Hall — for student housing and has put another building adjacent to the current campus on the market. Crawford said the “strategi-
lege, a banking data center and historic St. Joseph’s Villa, which ministers to children in crisis,” he said. “This new location will facilitate our mission of preparing women and men for ministry in a rapidly changing world.” Trustee chair Virginia Darnell of Richmond echoed Crawford’s assessment. “I’m excited. This move is a big step forward for the seminary,” she said. “We will have a state-of-the-art facility that has
Partnership will increase Leland students understanding of poverty in urban settings BY ROBERT DILDAY ARLINGTON, Va. — The John Leland Center for Theological Studies hopes to enhance the ability of its students to understand poverty issues in urban settings and to advocate on behalf of the poor through a new partnership announced in March. The collaboration with City Gate, a community-building organization in Washington, is part of Leland’s ministry rotation requirements for master of divinity students. Two fourmonth rotations are necessary to earn the degree, each with a focus on mission/evangelism, justice/advocacy or chaplaincy. Students maintain a journal of their experiences and write a reflection paper at the end of each rotation. “Our students desperately need experiences that City Gate can help offer,” said Tom Lynch, Leland’s director of ministry rotations. “This partnership provides a local urban context for our students to climb in the trenches and really build relationships with people who need advocates.” City Gate was established in 2000 by Lynn Bergfalk, for 13 years senior minister of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington. Bergfalk, now City Gate’s executive director as well as pastor of Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church in
Last year, City Gate volunteers distributed food at Richardson Dwellings, a public housing development in northeast Washington. (Photo/City Gate) Washington, expanded community programs — primarily with children and youth — that had been conducted by Calvary Baptist. The organization has developed a multifaceted program of education, life skills development and
community building in locations across the capital. “City Gate is encouraged by the relationship with the Leland Center,” said Paget Rhee, director of Urban Hands, one of City Gate’s programs. “Together we will allow students the opportunity to put their theological teaching to practical use as they encounter real world struggles in an urban environment, and in turn developing strategies to provide hope and to translate the love of God into those neighborhoods and hearts.” City Gate is Leland’s second partnership for the justice/advocacy track of its ministry rotation. Earlier this year the seminary began collaborating with Prison Fellowship International, a criminal justice ministry based in Washington with more than 100 affiliated organizations around the world. It also works closely with International Justice Mission, an anti-human trafficking organization. “My hope is that by the time students are finished with this course they will have a meaningful understanding of advocacy from a micro level — advocating for a friend or their future ministry staff — to the macro level — for an oppressed people group or for systemic change,” said Lynch. Robert Dilday (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.
Virginia News April 8, 2013 • 3
No more Judge bars sectarian prayers at county supervisors’ meetings BY ROBERT DILDAY
DANVILLE, Va. — The board of supervisors in Virginia’s Pittsylvania County has been permanently barred from allowing sectarian prayers at official meetings, following a decision by a federal judge March 26. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski’s ruling brings to a close a legal battle that began in September 2011, when the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia sued the supervisors, who regularly opened their meetings with Christian prayers. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Pittsylvania County resident who said the prayers suggested to non-Christian residents “the message that they are not welcome at board meetings.” In his ruling, Urbanski said the supervisors’ view of the law is “inconsistent with controlling U.S. Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent” and that a permanent injunction was necessary. Sectarian prayers, he wrote, have “the unconstitutional effect of affiliating the government with … one specific faith or belief.” Quoting earlier court rulings, Urbanski wrote, “Certinly, defendants may believe that this decision ‘indicate[s] a hostility toward religion or toward prayer. Nothing, of course, could be more wrong.’ The founders of our nation, possessing ‘faith in the power of prayer … led the fight for adoption of our Constitution and also for our Bill of Rights with the very guarantees of religious freedom that forbid the sort of governmental activity which [the board] has attempted here.’” He added: “‘The Establishment Clause … stands as an expression of principle on the part of the founders of our Constitution that religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its “unhallowed perversion” ’ by government. Indeed, viewed in this light, a permanent injunction in this case is necessary to protect, rather than abjure, religious freedom.” ACLU legal director Rebecca Glenberg said in a press release, “This ruling sends a
clear message to localities that government officials may not impose their own religious beliefs on the entire community by leading sectarian prayers at public meetings.” Board supervisor Tim Barber told the Danville Register & Bee he was “disappointed” by the ruling, but added, “I’ll respect the decision.” Board chair Marshall Ecker told the newspaper, “If it was up to me, I would contest it.”
While acknowledging the legality of non-sectarian prayer, Urbanski refused in his ruling to “set forth some sort of template for an ideal legislative prayer policy.” Since a 2012 preliminary injunction, Pittsylvania ministers have been offering — primarily Christian — prayers during the portion of county board meetings in which citizens may speak. Supervisors have bowed their heads and responded with “amen.” Though a plaintiff said such behavior showed “approval” of the prayers and asked Urbanski to find it in violation of the First Amendment, the judge declined to do so. “Because the practices of the board after the entry of the preliminary injunction are not
part of the pleadings in this case, the court cannot rule on them,” he wrote. But ACLU executive director Claire Gastañaga suggested moments of silence were the best approach for those looking to “solemnize” government meetings. “Legislative bodies may open their meetings with prayers if those prayers do not refer to particular religious beliefs or prefer some beliefs over others, “ said Gastañaga in a press release. “Such a policy can, however, be very difficult to implement legally in practice. That’s why we encourage localities that want to have an invocation to consider having a moment of silence. A moment of silence can still solemnize the meet-
ing by providing a brief period of reflection and lets everyone who is present, both believers and non-believers, use the moment as they choose.” Three counties in North Carolina also are grappling with sectarian prayer at official government meetings. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against Rowan County’s board of commissioners March 12, claiming it routinely opens meetings with prayers to Jesus Christ. The ACLU has raised questions about similar practices by the board of commissioners in Davie County and the school board in Stokes County. Robert Dilday (rdilday@ religiousherald.org) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.
Virginia News 4 • April 8, 2013
Good aim Mineral church connects with community through archery BY BARBARA FRANCIS
MINERAL, Va. — When the youthful archers at Mineral Baptist Church line up and take aim, the real target is more than the bull’s-eye in their sights. According to Jeremy Debaets, director of Mineral Baptist Church Archery, the ministry’s aim is to introduce families to archery and the outdoors while developing friendships
that will advance God’s kingdom — one arrow at a time. With the guidance of trained archery instructors, children — some as young as 6 —and their parents learn the basics of shooting bow and arrow, from determining their dominant eye to loading a bow, to removing the arrow from the target. Training is provided by Centershot
Ministries, an interdenominational outreach ministry based in Minneapolis. With the slogan, “Making Christ the Target of Our Lives,” the Centershot program is an eight-week course that combines faith and archery for all ages. “There are many sports activities for children, but most are for specific ages,” said Debaets. “Mineral Baptist Church wanted to provide a ministry where fathers and sons or mom, dad and the kids can all be on the line learning the fundamentals of archery.” He explains that this is easily accomplished as the program utilizes the same equipment for all ages.
Emily Hix shows off her arrow grouping. Debaets admits that the church didn’t realize how large the interest in archery was in the community until in its first year when there
was an unexpected turnout of 54 participants. Beginning the program with that many involved was a challenge, he said. After MBCA was launched, several leaders indicated that they would like to be able to shoot, so a 3D archery range was set up. A 3D range is an outdoor course in a hunting atmosphere with life-size animal targets. “After we started our 3D shoots, we were amazed at how many moms and dads participated with their children in this activity,” Debaets said. It currently sponsors 3D outdoor shoots year-round. MBCA offers its archery ministry during the summer. Two independent sessions will be offered this year. Each session includes training and a devotional that ties the skills learned to making Christ the target in life. “The great thing about archery is that you’re competing against yourself,” said Debaets. “It doesn’t matter what the next person is shooting because you are competing against your own score.” This may interest kids who do not want to participate in team sports but might be drawn to individual sports. And archery is a repetitive sport, he adds. “Shooting trains muscles in repetitive form and the more you shoot the better you become.” While he admits that it is a great outreach to children, he also says archery provides an opportunity for men to be involved in a sport that they are comfortable and confident in. “We have leaders in the community that are not members of Mineral Baptist that help us teach students,” he said. “Most of them hunt or participate in outdoor Archery Continued on page 6
6 • April 8, 2013
For parents of children with autism, camp provides spiritual respite
Archery Continued from page 4
sports and it allows them to realize that participating in a church sport can be fun.” Several local hunting clubs participate in the outdoor 3D shoots and other groups like the Virginia 4H are looking into the possibility of taking part, said Debaets. While no devotionals are offered at these shoots, the interaction opens the door for witness. “We rely on leaders from the church to build friendships with those involved and to allow Christ to work through those relationships,” he said. Coaching archery differs from some other sports, said Debaets, as instruction is one-on-one and coaches are able to form relationships as they mentor students. “Archery is about form,” he said and coaching is very different from standing on the sidelines shouting instructions to 10-12 players. Training is similar to that used in the National Archery in Schools Program and is initially provided by a certified Centershot instructor trainer. Before each new session those who have received instruction provide training for new coaches.
BY BARBARA FRANCIS
Aaron Groome puts his Centershot training to use on the outdoor 3D range. “We wanted to provide a ministry to the community without being a financial burden to the church,” said Debaets. To do this MBCA utilizes sponsorships from local businesses to pro shops and sporting goods stores to other companies offering products for outdoor sports and archery. This has allowed MBCA to provide this ministry at no cost to the congregation. “It’s amazing to see all ages throughout the church
be supportive of MBCA and what it’s doing to reach people,” Debaets said. He admits initially there were concerns about safety and children shooting a bow on a live range. “But once they realized the safety built into the Centershot program and the instruction process involved, the congregation was enthusiastic,” he said. Barbara Francis (bfrancis@ religiousherald.org) is on the staff of the Religious Herald.
HARTFIELD, Va. — “Every family needs a break now and then — especially families raising a special needs child,” said Niki Gourley, retreats director at Piankatank Camp and Conference Center near Hartfield, Va. The natural setting of the Virginia Baptist facility located on the Piankatank River will provide the surroundings for the camp’s first Autism Family Camp set for May 30-June 2. According to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 in 50 American children have some form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — a 78 percent increase compared to a decade ago. Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism. Autism spectrum disorder and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. “During the past few years we’ve seen an increasing number of families affected by autism,” said Gourley. Children with some forms of ASD attend summer camp, yet she admits that parents of those with more complex forms often feel their children couldn’t participate in a camp. “Our desire is to offer this experience to everyone,” she said. The Family Autism Camp will provide a weekend for respite and fun for the whole family, she said, with couples and single parents having opportunities for relationship-building with other parents. Children with ASD and their siblings will spend time with their families in a safe, low-anxiety environment, enjoying new experiences and meeting new friends. Age-appropriate Bible study and worship will be part of the camp. “Many families of children with ASD don’t feel like they can go to church because there is no one to take care of their child,” said Gourley. “So we will offer opportunities for a spiritual retreat, as well.” Individualized support will allow parents a chance to relax and recharge. Among the added volunteers for the weekend will be members of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Newport News, Va. This congregation has a ministry for children with autism and offers a special service on Sunday evenings, called The HOPE Service, for families living with the daily challenges of autism to worship freely without worry as their child is loved and ministered to in an environment designed for them by trained volunteers. “There’s a saying that ‘if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism,’” Gorley said. Realizing that each child is different, volunteers will provide the extra hands and eyes to assist families prepare for activities that their children may not be accustomed to. “Whether it’s helping them get ready to go swimming or providing care while a parent spends an hour or so at the waterfront reading a book, volunteers will be available,” she said. “Children with autism and special needs need to feel welcome in the body of Christ,” said Gourley. “While the kids may not be able to sit through a worship service, congregations always need to be accepting and loving and welcome these families that are struggling.” For an information packet on the Autism Family Camp, contact Niki Gourley at 804.776.9552 or at niki.gourley@ camppiankatank.org. Scholarships are available. Barbara Francis (bfrancis@ religiousherald.org) is on the staff of the Religious Herald.
North Carolina News April 8, 2013 • 7
Call to action Christian faith compels immigration reform, say ministers at rally BY ROBERT DILDAY WINSTON-SALEM — As Congress grapples to craft legislation that would overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, a group of Baptist ministers in North Carolina called on their state’s representatives April 2 to support “comprehensive, fair immigration reform.” About 20 ministers affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina gathered on the steps of First Baptist Church on Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem prepared, they said, “to support legislation that reflects our Christians values and builds the common good.” “Our Scripture repeatedly calls us to care for the immigrants and strangers among us,” said Ka’thy Gore Chappell, the CBFNC’s leadership development coordinator. “As Christians, we know that Jesus Christ taught us in Mark 12 and Matthew 22 that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jesus taught that there is no greater commandment and that the entire law can be summed up in those words.” “We are calling [legislative representatives] to uphold the rule of law and to care for the stranger among us,” said Glenn Pettiford, associate pastor at First Baptist. “The Bible speaks clearly and repeatedly to God’s concern for the immigrant, guiding the Christ-follower toward principles that we believe should inform both the interpersonal ways we interact with our immigrant neighbors and the public policies that we support.” Scott Orr, pastor of Lindley Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, said the ministers “are driven by a moral obligation rooted deeply in our faith to address the needs of immigrants in our country. We are already working across the country to educate and mobilize our fellow Christians to support just immigration laws.” They “stand ready to support legislation that reflects our Christian values and builds the common good,” Orr added.
Those Christian values would be reflected in legislation which provides a path to legal status or citizenship or both, said Brandon Hudson, pastor of Northwest Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Reform legislation also would protect family unity, respect human dignity and the rule of law, guarantee secure borders and ensure fairness for taxpayers. “For us, this is not a politi-
CBFNC PHOTO BY AIDA MARGARET MITCHELL
cal issue, but a deeply personal one,” said Fortino Ocampo, pastor of Centro Familiar Cristiano in Siler City, N.C. “Daily, ministers in our CBFNC Hispanic Network face checkpoints and racial profiling. Police officers who act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials camp outside their churches on Sunday morning to check IDs. Our Hispanic brothers and sisters risk splitting up their families to exercise an American value and a protection of the First Amendment — freedom of religion.” A bipartisan group of eight influential U.S. senators is working on an immigration reform proposal that could address many of those issues,
North Carolina Baptist ministers called on congressional leaders to enact comprehensive immigration reform. but the so-called “gang of eight” has not yet introduced a bill in the Senate, according to news reports. Congress is in recess and most of its members are in
their home districts, making the North Carolina ministers’ call timely, said Pettiford. Robert Dilday (rdilday@ religiousherald.org) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.
Cover Story 8 • April 8, 2013
Small is big
BY BOB ALLEN
ASHVILLE, Tenn. — “The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many,” Matthew’s Gospel quotes Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” The early churches were small enough to meet in homes. The first Baptists sought to emulate the pattern. “A church ought not to consist of such a multitude as cannot have particular knowledge one of another,” Thomas Helwys, founder of the first Baptist church in England — a congregation that some scholars estimate numbered about 10 members — wrote in the 1600s. “The members of every church or congregation ought to know one another, so that they may perform all the duties of love one towards another, both to soul and body,” Helwys wrote. “And especially the elders ought to know the whole flock, whereof the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers.” That’s a far cry from Baptists today, when many congregations have multiple worship services and programs that divide members into small groups scattered by age or interest sometimes in separate buildings. Even today, the majority of American churches are small. Of the 350,000 religious congregations
in the United States, the Hartford Institute for Religious Research estimates 59 percent are smaller than 100. The median U.S. church has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday morning. Despite that, most churchgoing Americans attend larger congregations. Smaller churches draw 11 percent of those who attend worship, while 50 percent of churchgoers attend the largest 10 percent of congregations, those with 350 or more regular participants and up. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, reports there were approximately 50 megachurches in America in 1970. Today there are 1,600. That growth rate has slowed considerably the last seven years, however — a trend worth watching. The megachurch, Rainer said, catered to lifestyles of the Baby Boomers and reflected cultural trends when people flocked to large shopping malls. Younger generations like the Millennials, who triggered cultural phenomena like Starbucks and social media, gravitate toward intimacy and smallness. Small communities deliver deeper friendships, accountability relationships and maximum participation, Rainer said. They also deliver environments for spiritual growth and missional opportunities for members who want to be personally involved. Different size churches require different leadership skills, said Ircel Harrison, a consultant with Pinnacle Leadership Associations. Many seminary students’ first pastorate is the “fam-
ily church” of 50 or fewer participants. They often include a patriarch or matriarch viewed as an undesignated leader, and they see a lot of preachers come and go. In that setting, the pastor is more or less a “chaplain of the family” in place to love and accept the members as they are, to preach and teach, exercise pastoral care through visiting and perform “priestly functions” like weddings and the Lord’s Supper. Those functions continue when the church grows to between 50 and 150, but a shift occurs to a more pastor-centered fellowship. Expectations are higher for preaching proficiency, and the pastor leads through personal relationships and by delegating responsibilities. One of the greatest challenges becomes time management. When churches get even larger, attendance, programs and ministries multiply to where the pastor can to longer be the coordinator of everything but must depend on staff members in other leadership areas. When a church becomes very large, the senior pastor usually is seen as the chief executive officer. Rainer predicts megachurches still will be around in 20 years, but they will shift from large facilities to smaller buildings and multiple venues. He believes churches of all size will “downsize” or at least not build as quickly once their worship services seem overcrowded as they did in the past. Bob Allen (email@example.com) is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.
Cover Story April 8, 2013 • 9
Churches struggled to find space and built bigger buildings. For a while, they were full or nearly full, and then for a number of reasons, things started to change.
Pastor says numerical success not ministry measure BY BOB ALLEN
EORGETOWN, Ky. — During 25 years as a minister, every church where Jim Somerville has served had stories of a legendary pastor and glory days when they had to put extra chairs in the aisles to accommodate overflow crowds. Somewhere along the line, he noticed a common theme. Each pastor had served during the 1950s, when going to church was “the Sunday morning thing to do.” The era coincided almost exactly with the so-called “baby boom” between 1946 and 1964, Somerville told pastors at a conference in January at Georgetown College in Kentucky. Young parents wanted their children to grow up in church just as they had. Churches struggled to find space and built bigger buildings. For a while, they were full or nearly full, and then for a number of reasons, things started to change. Some say it started when movie theaters began to open on Sunday. Maybe, Somerville said, it just marked the end of the baby boom. “Whatever cultural reasons that used to push people through the church doors began to pull them out again,” said Somerville, pastor of First Baptist Church in Richmond. The result, he said, was “great panic” for congregations that watched numbers dwindle “as if someone pulled the plug in the bathtub.” About that time, a young minister in Chicago started a new church at Willow Creek Theater in Palatine, Ill. Willow Creek Community Church founding pastor Bill Hybels believed people weren’t coming to church because of outdated music, irrelevant sermons and because they don’t like to dress up on Sunday morning. The idea became known as “seeker-friendly” worship, and it sparked a church-growth movement many tried to emulate. Community churches popped up in towns across the country. People left their old churches for new ones, and the emphasis turned to attending church not out of duty, devotion or habit but because worshippers found it attractive. Some churches did this better than others,
Somerville observed. A few grew into megachurches, while others struggled to survive. Somerville emphasized he has nothing against relevant preaching or contemporary worship, but the reality today is “some people aren’t going to come to church no matter what you do.” “This is the perfect time to re-examine the church’s mission and purpose,” Somerville said. “Is it really to get as many people into our pews on Sunday morning or as many of their dollars in the offering plate? Is that really what Jesus had in mind for the church?” Turning to Scripture, Somerville found little about the standards most ministers use to measure success. At the same time, he said, Jesus talked a lot about the “kingdom of God,” a phrase the Gospels reference about 120 times. Viewing the church less as an institution to be preserved and more as a force for change in society, Somerville over the course of four or five years encouraged First Baptist to shift from an “attractional” to a “missional” mindset. Instead of expecting the community to come to them, they would go out into the community. Last fall, First Baptist kicked off a year-long “every member mission trip” called KOH2RVA — an acronym for “Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia.” Partnerships were formed with community organizations to provide members with new opportunities to “get off the bus” and into hands-on missions. Somerville blogs nearly every day on the initiative. Somerville reports the church staff still is working on the question of how to measure success. “You could have a church full of people and offering plates full of money without ever doing the things Jesus told you to do,” he blogged Jan. 31. “The institution would be successful, but the mission would not.” “On the other hand, you could have a church so radically committed to the mission that its members never came to church or put their money in the plates. They would all be out there on the mission field, bringing heaven to earth. The mission would be successful, but the institution would not.”
Ideally, he said, “there would be a balance between institutional and missional success.” Somerville says he doesn’t know if every single church member is taking the challenge seriously, but many stop him in the hallway to tell him about the work they’re doing. Lay people increasingly remark about thinking of themselves more as missionaries and less as spectators who come to church to sit and listen while professionals perform the church’s ministry. When he talked in January about KOH2RVA with a group of pastors in Arizona, Somerville said they wanted to know two things: “Have you seen an increase in attendance?” and “Have you seen an increase in giving?” The answer he gave to both questions was “no,” but that is the way ministers have learned to measure success, he noted. “Pastors of large churches are considered successful because their churches are large, and if they want to stay successful, they have to think about how to keep them that way,” he blogged about the experience Jan. 28. “I don’t blame them for asking if our year-long, every-member mission trip has stimulated growth and giving.” Somerville said he wouldn’t be surprised if attendance and offerings do indeed grow as church members become more engaged, but he finds nowhere in Scripture where success is measured by how many people come to church on Sunday and how much they give. “I’ll keep looking, but so far I’m finding things like loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength; things like loving our neighbors as ourselves; things like caring for ‘the least of these’— Jesus’ brothers and sisters,” he wrote. “That’s how success is measured in the kingdom, and it shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus told us a long time ago that in God’s kingdom, the yardstick is turned upsidedown—the last are first and the least are great. “As that kingdom comes closer and closer to Richmond, Va., we may have to start measuring success in a whole new way.” Bob Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.
North Carolina News 10 • April 8, 2013 Photo courtesy John Carter Brown Library
Decoded Shorthand written by religious liberty icon is deciphered BY JIM WHITE DURHAM, N.C. — A team of scholars that helped translate an original theological essay written in shorthand by early American Baptist Roger Williams and interpret its significance presented its findings during a seminar at Duke Divinity School’s Baptist House of Studies April 1. The panel, hosted by Baptist House director Curtis Freeman, included Lucas Mason-Brown, a senior at Brown University in Providence, R.I.; Linford Fisher, a history professor at Brown; and J. Stanley Lemons, history professor emeritus at Rhode Island College and an expert on Williams. Lemons is also a historian at First Baptist Church in Providence, established by Williams in 1638 and generally regarded as the first Baptist church in the United States. For almost two centuries a small leather-bound book lacking a title page and author identification has been a part of Brown’s John Carter Brown Library collec-
many Baptists as a champion of religious liberty. A note accompanying the book when it was donated said, in part, “The margin is filled with Short Hand Characters, Dates, Names of places &c. &c. by Roger Williams or it appears to be his hand Writing …. brot me from Widow Tweedy by Nicholas Brown Jr.” It was dated Nov. 11, 1817. All previous attempts to decipher the writing, which fills almost every square inch of white space in the volume, had failed, and the book was largely forgotten. Three years ago, however, in a presentation to a small group of Brown alumni, a plan to involve interdisciplinary faculty to translate the marginalia was born. Initially, the group assumed computers could be used to crack the code — a hope that proved futile. With little time to devote to the project, the faculty invited undergraduates to assist. Math major MasonBrown, at the time a junior, answered the call and applied
But since Williams did not use vowels, the theory failed. Just as Mason-Brown was considering his options, he learned of a book called The Arte of Stenographie by minister John Willis, published in 1602. Since Williams had worked as a court stenographer before immigrating to America, Mason-Brown reasoned that Willis’s work could be key to understanding Williams’s writing. Research confirmed that Williams had used Willis’s method as the basis for his shorthand, but that he had improvised considerably to suit his own purposes. Mason-Brown recalls a flash of insight when he realized that the symbol of the first consonant of a word is written large and that vowels in a word could be determined by the position of subsequent consonant symbols around it. That epiphany solved the riddle of translation, but Mason-Brown still faced two difficulties. First, Williams’s hand-writing was, in his word, “atrocious,” and secondly, Williams made frequent use of “defectives,” words that do not conform to his usual practice. In addition, Williams employed simple pictographs which complicated translation. Eventually, by slogging through the writings, the team discovered that WilReligious Herald photo by Jim White
A panel including (from left) J. Stanley Lemons, Lucas Mason-Brown and Linford Fisher answer questions during a presentation at Duke Divinity School’s Baptist House of Studies of a newly-translated Roger Williams document.
tion. More remarkable than its age, however, was the claim made by the book’s donor that the curious symbols and signs scribbled in the margins were from the pen of Williams, revered by
frequency theory to finding a solution. Simply stated, the theory is that since “E” is the most commonly used letter in the English alphabet, the most used symbol in a code must represent that letter.
liams’s coded writing fell into three categories. On pages 1164 of the book, Williams copied information from a popular 17th century book on geography. On pages 208-234 he drew information from a medical book. But the second section was a previously unknown original theological work in which Williams
Roger Williams filled almost every inch of whitespace of this book with his own writing.
refutes ideas expressed by John Eliot that Scripture affirms infant baptism. He also takes issue with what he regarded as Eliot’s manipulative methods of evangelizing Native Americans. Eliot’s book was itself a response to English Baptist pastor John Norcott’s position affirming believer’s baptism by immersion only. Since Williams refers to “readers” at the beginning of his essay, Lemons believes that he planned to publish it. According to Mason-Brown, in using his own shorthand Williams was not trying to keep his writing secret, but was simply making notes for himself to assist later publication using what paper was available. Lemons was clear about the primary significance of these writings for Baptists. “This essay demonstrates that the idea [of believer’s baptism] that he adopted in 1638 remained with him till the end of his life and that he continued to affirm that immersion was the true mode — a conclusion he reached in 1647 or 1649,” said Lemons. “From what has been deciphered, it is clear that Williams continued to hold the Baptist concept of baptism, both as to who is baptized and how it should be done.” He concluded, “Everybody agrees that Williams did not remain more than a few months with his little church, but this latest discovery shows that he never retreated from the idea that caused him to rebaptize the congregation that had been gathering for wor-
ship in his house for about a year. That idea held that believer’s baptism was what the Scriptures required. Moreover, this new piece confirms that Williams believed that the proper mode was ‘dipping’ or plunging the person into the water, not sprinkling, washing, or pouring.” Williams must have written this essay, in which he staunchly affirms both his positions on infant baptism and evangelism of Native Americans, sometime between the 1679 publication of Eliot’s book and his own death in 1683. This new information indicates that Williams either did not depart from the Baptist principles that distinguished his earlier life or that he returned to those principles before making his marginal notes in the last four years of his life. In his attack on Eliot’s manipulative methods of evangelizing indigenous people, Williams also demonstrated his continuing commitment to religious freedom. According to Fisher, the timing of Williams’s writing helps explain its space-saving appearance in the margins of an existing book. “Paper had always been scarce in Rhode Island, and in 1676 American Indians burned much of Providence, including Williams’s home, to the ground,” he said “He lost most of his possessions and was forced to move in with his son, Joseph.” Jim White (jwhite@ religiousherald.org) is executive editor of the Religious Herald.
A supplement to the Religious Herald
A supplement to the Religious Herald
A supplement to the Religious Herald
A supplement to the Religious Herald
North Carolina News April 8, 2013 • 15
Cafe society Dementia sufferers connect at church’s Memory Cafe BY LINDA BRINSON ASHEVILLE — Walk into the Memory Café in the dining room at First Baptist Church in Asheville on the third Thursday afternoon of any month, and you’ll see people sitting comfortably at tables. Some play cards or dominoes. Some work together on a jigsaw puzzle, joining the pieces into a work of art. Some sip tea or coffee. What’s not immediately obvious is that many people here are suffering from dementia. The debilitating disease can steal more than a person’s memory. It can steal connections to society — and even to church. The person with dementia, and those who love and care for that person, may have profound feelings of loss, loneliness and isolation. The Memory Café at First Baptist provides the all-important social connections and sense of community that people with dementia may no longer find elsewhere. For many of them, that may mean no more than a chance to talk. “Conversation is what people are most interested in,” Leah Brown, First Baptist’s minister with senior adults, said recently. And conversation, so difficult for people with dementia in many social settings, comes easily to participants at Memory Café. As dementia begins to take its toll, affected people may
be afraid of saying or doing something wrong in social situations. The caregivers — often a spouse or other relative — who go places with them may feel that they have to act as buffer and interpreter. Often, those affected by dementia simply stop going places.
(Caregivers Alternatives to Running on Empty), a program that helps those caring for people with dementia, and Park Ridge Health, a regional hospital. Jane Sherman of Asheville, who wrote the grant proposal, invited area churches in the fall of 2012 to participate in training to become Memory Café hosts. First Baptist answered the call, along with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, Calvary Episcopal Church in nearby Fletcher, and a senior center in Waynesville. After eight First Baptist
Some are members of the church who have stopped attending regular services and are happy to be able to reconnect with fellow members. Others are people in the community who may have another church or no church. “We’ve been able to open our church to anybody in the community who wants a place for hospitality where they don’t feel set apart,” Brown said. “It’s a lovely thing.” “Memory Café is our gift to those in our church and in the greater community who are dealing with dementia,”
The dome of First Baptist Church, home of the Memory Café, is a prominent landmark in downtown Asheville. “Dementia comes with such stigma that it’s harder for people to be out and about,” Brown said. But like anyone else, they still crave human interaction. Memory Café, modeled on a program in Great Britain, provides a gathering where those with dementia and their caregivers can relax and socialize. The Memory Café at First Baptist came about through a grant from the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, with support from Project C.A.R.E.
volunteers were trained, the church’s Memory Café opened on Oct. 18. The café is not a drop-off program. A caregiver who can provide help if needed must accompany each person with dementia. In fact, part of the idea is for caregivers to mingle with others, Brown said. Those who come may be as young as the 50s or decades older. They cross the spectrum of education and affluence. They may be in the early stages of dementia, or more seriously affected.
Mars Hill College students find plenty of post-quake work in Haiti (ABP) — College student Shelby Johnson missed the March 3 announcement that the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was shifting its work in Haiti from disaster response to long-term projects, like community health and economic development. But the English and Spanish double major at Mars Hill College ended up on the same page during her spring break mission trip to Haiti. For five days, Johnson and her colleagues distributed food, dug irrigation ditches and volunteered in a school and medical clinic in Terrier Rouge, a small town located a few miles inland of Haiti’s northern coast. “The main point of the trip was to get immersed in the culture to get to know what they go through as people so we could bring that story back,” said Johnson, 20, a Baptist and native of Cashiers, N.C. Another goal was “just to be that extra pair of hands.” Since the 2010 earthquake, the CBF’s main goal in Haiti was to focus money and field personnel on relief and recovery. Also during that three years, approximately 1,200 individuals and 350 American Baptist, Canadian Baptist, CBF and other churches were used through short-term mission projects. When that work concluded, CBF officials shifted focus to long-term economic development that will continue to provide opportunities to help. Chris Boltin, short-term assignments and partnerships manager for CBF, said churches are already lining up to help. The CBF’s short-term mission project calendar for Haiti shows trips booked out as far as November 2013, Boltin added.
she said. “It is not our job to proselytize those from our community who attend, but it is our hope that we will share the warmth of God’s love with our hospitality and care. I think it is important to acknowledge that God wants us to be truly present and open with those around us. “People living with dementia live in the present moment and may not
remember the relationship we are developing with them month by month, but we do, and that is the gift,” she said. Dorie Adams volunteers because she would have loved such an opportunity when she was dealing with her husband’s dementia. “Memory Café sets my mind at ease knowing that I have helped somebody,” Adams said. “It is tough taking care of someone with dementia. We help the caregivers because we are giving them a break, someone else to talk to.” The training, she said, helped her know “what to say and what not to say.” After five months, Brown considers Memory Café a success and is eager to spread the word. With support from the grant and the other Memory Café sites in the area, First Baptist will be the host on April 13 for “The Sacred Journey of Dementia,” a daylong conference for people with dementia, their caregivers and relatives, professionals and members of the community. In June, “The Sacred Journey of Dementia” will be the name of a workshop Brown will lead at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly in Greensboro. Among other things, she will talk about the Memory Café “model of intentional hospitality” and how to minister to people with dementia and those who care for them. Linda Brinson (lindacbrinson @gmail.com) is a Religious Herald contributing writer, based in Madison, N.C.
Mid-Atlantic News 16 • April 8, 2013
On the steps Baptists rally in support of gay marriage as court hears cases BY LEAH GRUNDSET DAVIS WASHINGTON — As the Supreme Court launched two days of oral arguments March 26 on a landmark same-sex marriage case, ministers and members of some Baptist churches in the Mid-Atlantic rallied with other faith groups at an early morning interfaith service and later on the court’s steps in support of marriage equality. The high court is scrutinizing California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, a case that could affect other states as well, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of government benefits to same-sex spouses. A “Prayer for Love and Justice” interfaith service, hosted March 26 by the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, drew a standing-room-only crowd as clergy and lay leaders prayed for marriage equality in the United States. Baptists were encouraged to attend by the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.
“It is critical that Welcoming and Affirming Baptists speak out in support of marriage equality since there is so much attention being paid to the non-affirming voices in the Baptist world,” said Robin Lunn, AWAB’s executive director. Baptists from Maryland and the District led portions of the interfaith service, held to demonstrate broad-based support in the faith community for LGBT equality and the dignity of each person as religious values, said organizers. Dennis Wiley, co-pastor of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, offered prayers focused on love, justice and marriage equality. Jill McCrory, pastor of Twinbrook Baptist Church in Rockville, Md., and an AWAB board member, participated in a blessing of couples, reminding them that it was a Baptist minister offering the blessing — and to remember that as they left the church to join
the rally. The congregation responded with laughter and “amens.” Also participating was Carol Blythe, president of the Alliance of Baptists and a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington. “The Alliance of Baptists has been committed to inclusivity and marriage equality for many years,” said Blythe. “We are glad to add our voice to this interfaith prayer service in support of love and justice. By participating we want to make clear to the world that the broader Baptist family includes our group of justice-seeking Baptists.” Following the prayer service, a group of drummers led the clergy in song, as they marched the two blocks from the church to the Supreme Court steps to join the United for Marriage Equality rally. Among the speakers there were Al Sharpton, an ordained American Baptist minister, and Allyson Robinson, also an ordained Baptist minister and executive director of OutServe, a support organization for gay members of the armed forces. Robinson is a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington. Steve Hyde, pastor of Ravensworth Baptist Church in Annandale, Va., a suburban congregation represent-
Photo by Leah Grundset Davis
Steve Hyde, pastor of Ravensworth Baptist Church in Annandale, Va., joins members of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington rallying in support of marriage equality. ed at the rally by both members and ministers, noted the event coincided with Holy Week. “On Tuesday of the first Holy Week, Jesus moved among the Temple courts, fielding questions intended to entrap and discredit him,” said Hyde. “On Tuesday of this Holy Week, it was a great privilege as a pastor to stand with so many people of faith in front of the highest court of our land, and to stand for justice and marriage equality.“ Marshall Marks, a Ravensworth member, said, “We’re happy to be out here and to serve as a light for justice so that all couples can be
granted the same laws.” Added AWAB’s Lunn: “Whether it’s Westboro Baptist Church or Richard Land from the Southern Baptist Convention, so often the only Baptist voices that people hear are the negative ones that the media lifts up. We need to stand up and be loud and proud as Welcoming and Affirming Baptists so people who are wounded and have left the church can find a place to call home.” Leah Grundset Davis (email@example.com), associate pastor for congregational life at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, is a Religious Herald contributing writer.
Disagreement over same-sex marriage won’t divide D.C. Baptist churches, say leaders BY R0BERT DILDAY WASHINGTON — Leaders of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention said in a statement March 27 that while the convention’s “diverse body of believers” holds strong opinions on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate, its churches remain focused on shared values and have chosen to “lovingly and respectfully disagree” on contentious issues. “DCBC member churches, leaders and staff have determined for themselves what their conviction is regarding same-sex marriage and we respect their right to do so,” the statement said. “Therefore, we gather on the values and principles for which we do agree, most especially the lordship of Jesus Christ, and lovingly and respectfully disagree on issues like same-sex marriage.” The statement was released at the end of two days of Supreme Court hearings on gay marriage, which drew a crowd of demonstrators — both for and against — to the court building east of the Capitol. Some of the supporters were members of churches affiliated with the DCBC. “DCBC leaders felt it was important to release a statement in the current environment,” Leslie Copeland-Tune, the convention’s director of communications and resource development, said in an email. Its content “reflects the historical position of the DCBC on issues as divisive as this one,” she added. “We believe that God has called us together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ to be in Christian community,” the
statement says. “While we are autonomous as local churches, we are interdependent and believe in the power of working together as a witness to Christ. Jesus affirms the diversity of our gifts and calls us to be in unity. We are many members but one body — one Lord, one faith, one baptism. … “We look forward to the continued witness and ministry
The District of Columbia Baptist Convention’s staff is housed in an office about a dozen blocks north of the White House. of this diverse body of believers as we move forward with the work that God has entrusted to us in the D.C. metropolitan area and beyond,” the statement adds. About 150 churches in the District as well as suburban Maryland and Virginia affiliate with the 136-year-old convention. Among those congregations’ shared beliefs, the state-
ment said, are sharing the gospel through evangelism and social action, involvement in cooperative missions, believers’ baptism, the priesthood of all believers, the autonomy of the local church and separation of church and state. Copeland-Tune said leaders believe this is the first time the convention has addressed same-sex marriage. But the response comes as other Baptists in the Mid-Atlantic are grappling with issues related to homosexuality. In March the Richmond Baptist Association narrowly voted to keep the affiliation of a church which ordained a gay man to the ministry. Last year the Baptist General Association of Virginia, by a much wider margin, dismissed the church for the same reason. Ricky Creech, the DCBC’s executive director/minister, said the convention’s statement reflects a commitment to respect churches’ diversity. “Statements made by Baptists regardless of the point of view only represent the local body and are not representative of the whole,” he said in an email. “I believe that our faith community is yearning for someone to come forth without polarizing people around issues. The DCBC is seeking to be that — an entity focused upon the whole and not just parts of the Kingdom body.” Gay marriage has been legal in the District since 2009 and Maryland approved it last fall. Virginia adopted a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2006. Robert Dilday (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.
Resources for Congregations
April 8, 2013 • 17
Church staffs need to pray more and play more BY JIM WHITE don’t have a study to back up my assumption that church staff members need to pray more, but based on my own observations I feel comfortable making the assertion. As Yogi Berra is credited with saying, “You can observe a lot just by looking around.” Not only that, church staff members I have known would also say they needed to pray more. But getting pastors and staff members to agree they need to play more might be problematic. Play is something we usually associate with children, playgrounds and recess. When one reaches adulthood, our culture values settling down, getting serious and nose-to-thegrindstone productivity. If this is true of adults in general, it is especially true of ministers. The nature of their work has eternal consequences, after all. They are doing God’s work. That’s serious business. No time for play. But clinical psychologists and social scientists say adults need to rediscover play. Of course, play takes on a different meaning for adults. After a certain age, playing tag and teeter tottering doesn’t sound like fun! But according to author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, play is art, books, movies, music, comedy and daydreaming. In short, it is whatever we find enjoyable that gives our minds a disconnect from the overstimulation of stress.
Competitive play Does your church staff play together? Do they play at all? I can almost hear some of them talk about playing golf or tennis. But according to Bowen F. White, a medical doctor and author of Why Normal Isn’t Healthy, the only kind of play our culture honors is competitive play. The problem is, if we take the
“game” seriously, competition doesn’t disconnect us from stressors, it adds to them. For many people, this kind of “play” is more stressful than working. This isn’t to say that golf, tennis or even Scrabble can’t be play, but it isn’t automatic. According to Julie Baumgardner, president of First Things First, “Many adults have the mindset that they are too old to play. There is actually strong evidence that this could not be further from the truth. Play may be the very thing that keeps you young and healthy. In fact, studies show that a life lived without play is at increased risk for stress-related diseases, mental health issues, addiction and interpersonal violence.” Looking for time But I can almost hear ministers say, “All this sounds good, but who has time to play?” A few years ago, a study conducted by Fuller Seminary found that 90 percent of pastors work more than 46 hours per week. If your pastor is one of those who has a healthier approach to balancing personal needs with professional obligations, you should feel fortunate. But church staff members are often their own worst enemies. Being unable to disconnect from the stress of their positions, they become susceptible to role fatigue, frustration and apathy. Role fatigue occurs when a person is unable to de-role. I have often heard pastors and pastors’ wives complain that they have to be “always on.” By this they mean they can never step down from the expectations of their roles. Always being “in role” is exhausting work. Play is the antidote. If a church staff can play together, so much the better! When I was a pastor, our staff tried to take an annual staff retreat. We were fortunate to have a church member with a large
beach house and we would drive to Kill Devil Hills each year in the off season to plan and play. Again citing Baumgardner, “The National Institute for Play cites studies that indicate that play refreshes a long-term adult-adult relationship. Some of the hallmarks of its refreshing, oxygenating action are: humor, the enjoyment of novelty, the capacity to share a lighthearted sense of the world’s ironies, the enjoyment of mutual storytelling, and the capacity to openly divulge imagination and fantasies.” “Playful communications and interactions, when nourished, produce a climate for easy connection and deepening, more rewarding relationship- true intimacy. Who
wouldn’t want this in a relationship?” she concluded. Clinical psychologist Tian Dayton echoes these assertions. She says, “Friends or couples who play together report feeling greater intimacy and closeness. And this sense of closeness develops at a faster rate than normal. Play bonds those who engage in it and helps to shake off tensions and aggressions that might interfere with work or relationships.” As a personnel committee, you can help your staff build healthy and happy relationships by communicating to the staff and to the church that time away from the stress of their ministries is expected. In addition, you can provide opportunities for them
to “play” together. For example, an afternoon spent watching a movie, then meeting for dessert to evaluate its implications for Christians and the church could be playful, but also useful. The Gospels do not attempt to shield the reader from Jesus’ need to get away from the press of the crowds and the demands they placed on him. He often withdrew to an isolated place to pray. And he was accused by the religious leaders of his time that he was having too good a time (Luke 7:33-34). He should take things more seriously, they thought. Jesus must have known about playing as well as praying. Jim White is executive editor of the Religious Herald.
Opinion 18 • April 8, 2013
Is your church a Corvette? ne effect of growing up in 20th century America is that I many established churches which face a very uncertain future. love cars. Early on, I got the fever. Played with them as a What might our fellow pilgrims at Corvette teach us? kid, worked on them, collected them, admired them, dreamed of In their struggle for survival, the designers and makers of them. I’ve owned around 25 cars of multiple sorts. Started with Corvettes have been forced to go back to the essence of identia ’64 Chevy Impala and moved on to VW, Mercury, Jeep, Honda ty and purpose. (11!), Toyota, BMW, Plymouth, Volvo, Dodge, Oldsmobile and one First, they had to decide what they were not willing to do. lovely ’77 MGB. Tadge Jeuchter, the chief engineer at Corvette, says the hardI was talking about congregational life recently with my est part is bringing the car into the 21st century while making it friend Dock Hollingsworth. Dock is one of the bright lights in the look like a Corvette. “We don’t want to do retro,” Jeuchter says. world of clergy and congregations. He teaches “We don’t want to go back and do like some manat Mercer University’s McAfee School of ufacturers [and] go relive the glory days.” Theology, and effectively helps many churches It is very tempting, when we are under presand ministers. He mentioned to me that a laypersure to produce results, to revert back to what by Bill Wilson son at the church where he is interim pastor had worked before. Many congregations find themrecently shared with him a powerful analogy for selves longing for the glory days of a “churched the struggle for relevance that established culture” that funneled people into local churches churches face. and produced high-water marks of attendance The analogy grew out of hearing an NPR and participation in traditional programs. Some story regarding the efforts of Chevrolet to recongregations, when confronted with plateau and invent the Corvette. When I listened to the story, decline, double down on programmatic models of I had to agree that, remarkably, traditional ministry that depend upon elevated levels of loychurches and Corvettes have several things in alty and high frequency of attendance. It seldom common. Could the Corvette have something to works. teach us about our future? The Corvette team decided to accept the new At the Detroit Auto Show in January, Corvette rolled out their reality and challenged their engineers to find ways to maintain new model of the classic American sports car. It helps to know their historic style while fully embracing the new. They used aluthat sales of Corvettes were at an all-time low last year. Those minum and carbon fiber to make it lighter and quicker. The new sales peaked in 1979 and have plateaued and declined since. car shares just two parts with the outgoing model. The over-ridOver the last few years, in the face of rising fuel prices and the ing mindset was to “respect our history, but advance it.” Great Recession, sales have plummeted. Last year, they botHealthy congregations balance the respect of our programtomed out at 12,000 cars sold. matic history with a full embrace of the missional model of minThe Corvette faces a well-known dilemma. Its 60-year-old istry. When we fail to manage that polarity and live exclusively in iconic brand evokes great nostalgia and loyalty among a dwineither extreme, we run the risk of losing relevance with both our dling crowd. Thus, any changes in the vehicle produce strong past and our future. reactions and pushback from devotees. Eric Gustafson, the editor of Corvette Magazine, loves Corvettes as much as anyone, but he says he’s part of a devoted To stay alive, it must change and upgrade to meet higher fuel but aging and dwindling crowd. efficiency standards and rising competition. The designers face “The big challenge is to find new customers,” Gustafson the classic quandary of how to remain true to their traditional says, “and not only new customers now, but new customers that heritage, while striving to be relevant for the next generation of customers. Sound familiar? Dock and I agreed that the analogy holds for Wilson Continued on page 23
O “If Pope Francis’s example has left this young priest speechless, then I say good. The people will be spared a dose of craziness.” Michael Sean Winter The columnist for the National Catholic Reporter was writing after a traditionalist Catholic priest said he didn’t know what to say after Pope Francis washed the feet of women at a Rome prison. (RNS) “He will be an outstanding president who will make Southern Baptists proud and who will make the enemies of Christ tremble.” Al Mohler The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was referring to seminary dean Russell Moore, who was tapped to lead the denomination’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. (RNS) “I’ve learned to trust the voice I’ve been given, but on Easter the old doubts and questions tend to come out more: Is this worthy of Easter? Is this theologically sound? Inspiring? Memorable? Will the world be transformed in the 15 minutes it takes to preach?” Susan Sparks The pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City was discussing her sermon on Easter. She was quoted by ABPNews.
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Marriage is back? body ast week my husband and I had dinner with a couple we else?” hadn’t seen in two years. We spent the evening catching up, It is common these days to encounter the idea that marhaving heated debate and laughing loudly. At one point the riage equals the end of freedom and personal exploration and wife leaned over to me and whispered, “Are therefore the end of happiness. In 1957, a you guys really happy in your marriage?” time when 70 percent of Americans were marThe way she asked the question made it ried, a survey from the University of Michigan seem as if she expected to be disappointed by showed that 80 percent of those surveyed by Lisa Cole Smith my answer so I was surprised when I believed that people who preferred being answered, “Yes” and she breathed a sigh of unmarried were “sick,” “immoral” or “neurotrelief and said, “Us too!” Her tone said — ic.” Today, according to census data, only 51 “Can you believe it!” percent of adults are married and those attiShe went on to tell me what a relief it was tudes have completely changed. In fact, a to be able to have a conversation with another 2012 Pew poll showed that at least half of the couple about how good marriage is. Her experespondents said marital status is irrelevant rience was that many couples have only comto achieving respect, happiness, career goals, plaints about their spouses and the general financial security or a fulfilling sex life. It is state of being married. While they are glad to only when having children comes into the picbe married, they aren’t necessarily happy. ture that people begin to feel marriage is This was an ironic conversation to have the week the preferable (although certainly not necessary). Supreme Court heard arguments about the Defense of I don’t know what to make of the reality that marriage is Marriage Act and same-sex marriage. It makes me wonder if on the decline among heterosexuals in the United States in so many people are unhappy being married, what all the fuss the midst of the hot and heavy debate on the rights of homois about? It’s like a joke I heard. A married man asks another sexuals to marry. How can marriage be so important an married man, “What do you think about same-sex marriage?” “issue” and at the same time have such a bad rap? And these His friend answers, “I don’t have a problem with it. Why attitudes are not only among non-Christians. Sure, many peoshouldn’t they have the right to be miserable just like everyple are still looking to get married, but too often a successful
Opinion April 8, 2013 • 19
It’s not easy being the church ast week a federal judge ruled that the Pittsylvania County (Va.) board of supervisors could no longer begin their meetings with prayers that reflect a specific religious point of view. Citing the faith of our nation’s founders, the judge was careful to say that he did not intend his ruling to be understood as a swipe at religion. Perhaps this is a good time to review what the First Amendment actually says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Not that the courts asked for my opinion, but beginning their meetings with a prayer is a far cry from Congress making a law that Pittsylvania County citizens have to go to the meeting and listen to it! It does seem to me that the courts are so afraid that they might be accused of favoring one religion over another that they are devaluing the influence of all. Still, truthfully speaking, if the board of supervisors began their meetings by prostrating themselves on prayer rugs facing Mecca, I would be incensed. I think most Baptists would be. Whether the First Amendment sanctions or condemns the action, then, is not the issue for me. Rather, in my mind the action is judged by a much older statute than the Bill of Rights. When Jesus said, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise,” (Luke 6:31), didn’t he mean that we shouldn’t do something we wouldn’t want to be done to us? It isn’t all prayer that was the topic of the judge’s ruling, just prayers that promote one religious viewpoint over another. If I may quote from the Religious Herald, ACLU executive director Claire Gastañaga said, “Legislative bodies may open their meetings with prayers if those prayers do not refer to particular religious beliefs or prefer some beliefs over others.” She suggested moments of silence were the best approach for those looking to “solemnize” government meetings. But is Gastañaga missing the whole point? If the super-
prised and disappointed to find that is the case and why so many people believe it is not work worth doing. I think sometimes we Christians forget to speak about the deeper, subtler gifts of marriage. Through the commitment of marriage I am able to learn something about God’s love for me. It is common to speak of God as father, but the Bible also uses imagery of a bridegroom and there is something very special in that symbolism. There is work, disappointment and frustration, but there is also the joy of being known and loved for our 6-o’clock-in-themorning selves by someone who has said, “I am committed to you no matter what.” There is a sense of the tangible the same way that bread and wine help us touch Jesus’ flesh and blood, and water leaves us feeling the cleansing of the Holy Spirit. The commitment of marriage can be an experience of one who chooses to love us not for what we do but because we are covenanted together. Regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision, the concept of marriage could still use a little defense. Wouldn’t a happily ironic outcome from the controversy be an interest in the deeper benefits of marriage and a renewed commitment to healthy ones? Lisa Cole Smith (email@example.com) is pastor of Convergence: A Creative Community of Faith, in Alexandria, Va.
visors simply wanted a formal, solemn moment to signal the start of their meetings, they could choose from any number of possibilities. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they wanted, instead, to ask God to help them make wise decisions and to be just and fair in their dealings. Does the ruling keep them from doing that? Fortunately, a prayer doesn’t have to be offered by a minister at the start of a meeting for God to hear it. We can hope that the Christians of Pittsylvania County will take an active interest in praying for their board of supervisors before, during and after their meetings. And, on another topic, will the Baptist General Association of Virginia see churches leave over the Richmond Baptist Association’s action to affirm Ginter Park Baptist Church’s membership in by Jim White the RBA after the congregation ordained a gay man? Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised since some will connect the two. I recall a night almost 10 years ago, when Mike Clingenpeel, then editor of the Religious Herald, was asked to address a “Roots and Wings” conference sponsored by the Center for Baptist Heritage and Studies. His topic was “issues the church will face in the years to come.” He ventured that homosexuality was one of those hot-button issues. I disagreed, referring to a resolution adopted by the BGAV in 1993 which said, in part, “We affirm the biblical teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful and unacceptable for Christians. Therefore, we do not endorse elevating those who practice it to positions of leadership.” My contention was that as far as the BGAV was concerned, that settled the matter.
Clingenpeel was right. Although last November the BGAV stood by its earlier resolution effectively ending affiliation with the church, the issue seems ever before us on the national scene, on the state denominational level and in local churches. Some churches may seek to remove themselves from having to face the issue by seeking refuge in a group with an even greater bold-faced, capitalized NO than that of the BGAV. But even this will neither isolate nor insulate them from the facts that a tectonic cultural shift is occurring. Support for the BGAV action in 1993 was overwhelming then, but circumstances in the last 20 years have caused some to evaluate their earlier opinions. Churches will have to consider hard questions, some of which Christ-followers have had to deal with ever since the disciples complained about them to Jesus, and we pray that the days ahead will include study, prayer, respectful speaking, respectful listening and reaching conclusions based on our current understanding of Scripture and other truths. It seems certain to me that hard questions will be put to churches no matter how progressive or traditional they may be. Churches willing to consider whether scriptural passages that seem to clearly condemn homosexuality can (or even should) be understood differently, will face the hard questions of interpretation with integrity. But even those churches unwilling to consider this will face hard integrity questions of their own. One example is, “If the statements relating to homosexuality are to be taken and applied literally, why aren’t other admonitions (like women keeping silent in the church, 1 Cor. 14:34-35) applied with equal fervor?” Early in SBC life, women weren’t allowed to speak or participate, so in 1888, women attending the convention meeting in Richmond had to walk to the Broad Street Methodist Church to organize the WMU. If women must remain silent in the church, does that apply to the choir as well? Just wondering. The church will always face hard questions. We can be grateful to God that the Spirit who inspired Scripture in the first place will continue to help us understand and apply it. Jim White (firstname.lastname@example.org) is executive editor of the Religious Herald.
Family on mission a series of in-home dinners? Breen says that when 20 to 50 s discussed recently, Mike Breen’s “State of the disciples regularly get together in a rhythm of life to carry out Evangelical Union” forecasts discipleship entering the centheir mission in the neighborhood, it makes a perfect landing ter of evangelical focus. That conversation puts identifying ourplace for people at different stages of a spiritual journey to selves around tribal customs or doctrinal distinctives in the hop on the train. They come to the gospel over time as they see rearview mirror. It also reorients worship gatherings and the its transforming power demonstrated in an ordifunctions of public worship leaders. We no nary extended family on mission. longer invest biggest in “front porch” events Your “oikos” or “family on mission” would with star preachers or concert-level musicians be the social-sized group with whom you most to introduce the gospel for spiritual seekers. by John Chandler share your lives. With whom does your family Large-group worship services are, rather, equipplay? With whom do you share purpose? Your ping-oriented celebratory gatherings which prooikos is your “high play, high purpose” commupel followers of Jesus into the world, scattering nity with a semi-permeable membrane that can and emboldening us as disciple-makers. include others in that play and purpose. What if They “scatter” us into our neighborhoods. the core of who we were in Christ began to The locus for evangelism won’t be in “big revolve around life in this extended household church” public gatherings, but the “oikos,” or on mission? Might this be a better discipleship extended family household, according to metric and vehicle than church attendance? Breen. He says the “family on mission” will Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once emerge as the core vehicle for sharing the said, “Never doubt that a small, committed gospel with our neighbors. Don’t wager on group of people can change the world. Indeed it’s the only crusades or altar calls to introduce your lost friends to Christ. thing that ever has.” Discipleship, as Baptists have classically Enfold them into the discipleship rhythm of your household, believed, is for ordinary people living in and demonstrating and watch it “rub off” on others. the transforming power of the gospel. I’m in. This makes a lot of sense. What is more viral — a sermon John Chandler is leader of the Spence Network, www. series on Christian marriage or a great parenting class, or getspencenetwork.org. ting to watch Christian marriage and parenting in action over
Opinion 20 • April 8, 2013
A man to be remembered H
be by climbing a rope. There I enry Williams was a promiwas, dangling between the sky nent church and civic figure and the sea with hungry sharks in the post-Civil War period of awaiting my fall. I finally succeedVirginia and even entered the field ed in getting aboard.” It was after of politics on the local level. He reaching home that he was concreated his own Baptist newspaverted to Christianity and soon per and its masthead read The Shiloh Herald. The readership was began preparation to enter the Virginia Baptists who, in the verministry. nacular of the times, were known Without benefit of formal eduas colored people or Negroes. cation, he was self-taught and Henry Williams self-made. He bewas “a colored came an itinerant preacher.” missionary and Williams was traveled on foot, by Fred Anderson born a child of free including a misparents in Spotsionary journey of sylvania County, 40 miles. He joined Va., on Oct. 13, the secretive Un1831. Just two derground Railmonths earlier Nat road and “personTurner, a slave ally led and transpreacher, led an ported on his back insurrection in and shoulders Virginia’s Southmany of his race ampton County in which about 60 from one station to another on the whites were killed. The short-lived way to Canada, traveling day and rebellion created widespread fear night, through rain and snow.” among white Virginians. Severe In 1865, with the Civil War laws were passed which restrictover, he made a missionary joured activities of blacks. No longer ney as far as Petersburg, Va. He could they gather for worship happened to meet someone from unless there were white men Gilfield Baptist Church, an indepresent. No longer could they be pendent black Baptist church taught to read and write. Henry which dates to perhaps 1797, who Williams’ parents decided to flee invited him to preach. It seems to Ohio and there Henry spent his that the church was “waiting for a youth. pastor to whom a call had been The story was handed down extended and whose arrival was that as a youth he ran away from long overdue.” The expected new home to visit Africa. He soon pastor never arrived and Henry became homesick and boarded Williams suddenly found himself the first ship back to America. He called as the pastor. It was pictured the scene for his hearNovember 1865. His wife, ers: “On reaching the ship, my Madeline Carter Williams, joined manner of getting aboard was to him and a new era began in the
life of Gilfield and for black Baptists in Virginia. Annie Williams, a contemporary of the pastor and a teacher in the Sunday school, once recalled that upon his arrival in Petersburg, “in a speech on the Poplar Lawn, now Central Park, he advised us as a people just liberated, to devote ourselves, our time, our all, to material progress, the acquisition of prosperity, trades and education, and above all to make friends of our neighbors among whom we live, rather than seek political advancement.” She continued: “In fact [pastor urged us] to leave politics alone. From this he made enemies. But did he not see the end from the beginning?” “His strong points were a wealth of common sense, an incompatible honesty, steadfast in honorable purpose, an untiring industry, all supplemented by the highest order of physical, moral and Christian courage,” she said. “He was of the stuff martyrs are made.” A newspaper in his time also admitted that the Baptist pastor had his enemies but added, “They were enemies because he told them the truth.” In 1870 he was elected to the Petersburg City Council. And in the same year he launched The Shiloh Herald, which declared on its masthead that it was “devoted to vital godliness and sound morality.” The editor explained that the Baptist paper was begun “with malice to none but charity to all, not as a rival, but as an aider.” He continued: “Though issued for
The day the world became Catholic A
few weeks ago my wife and I, along with a good friend and fellow North Carolina Baptist minister, traveled together for a much needed vacation along the Atlantic. When ministers get together, the conversation rarely leaves the genre of general religion or greater church life and this was most certainly the case for us. We shared stories about ministry and dreamed together about Christianity experiencing a resurgence in the 21st century, once again capturing the wonder of the culture in which it dwells. One particular day, as we explored the coastal town of our retreat, it seemed that the topic the public most wanted to discuss was the one to which we had devoted our entire lives and careers: religion and the Church. Earlier that
the election of their new leader. I afternoon white smoke had poured asked the man if he was Catholic from the chimney of the Sistine and he shared with me that he was Chapel indicating that the College of baptized Catholic but had left his Cardinals had elected a new pope faith many years to lead the world’s ago. As he shared 1.2 billion Catholics. his story, another We learned of this person spoke up and development as we by Alex Gallimore shared something walked up on a similar, and then dozen or so local another. Standing artists huddled around waiting for around CNN’s coverthe announcement of age of the event. As the new pope were we approached, a practicing and forponytailed, Hell’s mer Catholics, Angel-looking genCatholics out of comtleman smiled at us munion with the and said, “Welcome church and those who attend only friends, we have a pope!” Being a pastor, I just had to for Christmas and Easter as well as those from other Christian denomiengage these new friends, espenations and even a few non-believcially since they had welcomed us ers. There was something we all Baptists to celebrate with them in
Henry Williams and Gilfield Baptist Church.
the interests of colored Baptists of Virginia — and we may say elsewhere — yet we do not ignore the righteous, just interests of others, nor open warfare with those who differ with the polity of the Baptists.”
held in common during those few moments together, however — we all had a new pope. In the weeks since the election of Pope Francis, I have reflected on my experience in the presence of that reluctantly faithful congregation on a day the whole world seemed to be Catholic, considering what it means for all of us, even we Baptists, to have a new pope. Although I have always found the Roman Church interesting and am a firm supporter of ecumenical partnerships, there are many places I simply cannot follow the Vatican doctrinally. Still, I have always considered Catholics to be equal members of the body of Christ. Since I at times find myself in better agreement with my Catholic colleagues than a great many of the Baptists I know and have always learned a
Gilfield members revered him. Through personal appeals and hard work, he led the church which had about 1,200 people when he arrived to receive 5,781 new members with 4,455 by baptism at his hands. He not only was the pastor but also the superintendent of the church’s large and vital Sunday school which enrolled about 700. At one point the church members took up a special collection to furnish the pastor with a horse and buggy to be used in visiting the flock. Williams was a recognizable figure on the streets of Petersburg. He was a physically big man, slightly stooped, and possessed a commanding voice. In his long pastorate he kept the church and school “free from broils, factions and dismemberment and free from debt.” In the 1870s he led the church to build a large new building which was debt-free within a year. He even suggested that the church make its own bricks to save costs. During his pastorate, the church established four branches in the countryside beyond Petersburg. He was considered the father of the Virginia Baptist State Convention and the organizer of two district associations of black churches. Within his community, he led a movement to hire black teachers for black schools. He took a particular interest in the poor of Petersburg and found ways to help them. He served Gilfield Baptist Anderson Continued on page 23
great deal from their witness, I have decided for two reasons to embrace the idea that “we” have a new pope. First, the Catholic Church still makes up the largest Christian body in the world. It is a safe bet to assume that when non-Christians think of Christianity, they at some point consider the actions of Rome. Christianity will not experience the aforementioned cultural resurgence unless the Vatican is involved. It is for that reason, among others, that I pray for the Catholic Church and the pope often. I pray that they continue to bear witness to the gospel, that they are true to the ethics of the Kingdom of God, and that they, along with other Gallimore Continued on page 23
Opinion April 8, 2013 • 21
Struggling with prayers at governmental meetings few weeks ago, I read with great interest Robert Dilday’s article in the Religious Herald regarding prayer at official government meetings in Rowan County, N.C. By happenstance, the very next week I was to give the invocation before the town council of Ahoskie, N.C. While I am honored the council invites me to do this a couple of times a year, I must admit that doing so remains a struggle for me. As a Baptist pastor in the southern United States, I’m sure my struggle with this practice is in no way unique. I have the privilege of serving on the board of directors of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington. Because of my personal convictions and my service to this great Baptist organization, I believe in
meetings, such prayer must be and strive to promote the princinon-sectarian in nature. Now that ples of liberty for persons of all sounds like a reasonable comprofaiths and of those with no faith. mise, but as a perAs such, to invite son of faith, my only Christian minisprayers are necesters to pray seems sarily sectarian. As to me to be a slight by Daniel Glaze a follower of Jesus, against other faiths. I pray in Christ’s I would feel better if name. To pray othclergy representing erwise seems inauother faith backthentic at best. grounds in addition Furthermore, how to Christian pastors were invited to pray would I even begin before my local gova non-sectarian prayer? “Dear You erning body, but I ….”? I imagine live in a town with a God asking, “Wait … are you talkpopulation a shade under 5,000. ing to me?” When a mosque or synagogue Call me difficult, but this “comcomes to town, I’ll let you know. promise” only intensifies my inner I realize that courts have ruled struggle. On the one hand, I that while prayer is permissible resent the government dictating before official governmental
A pope by any other name arch 13, 2013 — a day for the history books. Anytime a pope is elected it’s historic, but this is history of histories. We have a Latin American pope. And where was I when I found out the announcement? Sucking at golf, because my brother twisted my arm. I just knew it wouldn't be that day, so I left the TV — and they elect a Latin American pope. I digress. Regnal names are a longstanding tradition with the papacy. But it hasn’t always been this way. If you consider the Apostle Peter as the first pope, which the Catholic Church does, then it was around 500 years after his death before a pope took a name different than the one he was given at birth. Pope John II, elected Jan. 2, 533, was born Mecurio. That is an Italianized version of Mars, the Roman god of war. It wasn’t until the later part of the 10th century, with Pope John XIV, that the tradition of taking a regnal name began to catch on. The name a pope chooses is very important. It shows a glimpse into the legacy he hopes to leave. Let’s take a look at the last three popes. John Paul I, born Albino Luciani, chose the name of his two predecessors, John and Paul. John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council. He was a reformer. Paul VI concluded the Second Vatican Council and started implementing the changes. He too was a reformer. When Luciani took the name John Paul I, he was both honoring his predecessors and indicating he would continue with their reforms. Alas, we shall never know. John Paul I’s papacy lasted all of 33 days.
has been plagued by global terrorPerhaps the most famous pope ism and the wars that have been in the last 500 years was John spawned since 9/11/01, is it any Paul II. Not since Paul has the wonder that Cardinal Ratzinger church had such a missionary. took the name Benedict, whom he John Paul continued the legacy of personally called “a his predecessors prophet of peace”? with reform. The two And now we greatest reforms have history in the under his papacy by Daniel Glaze would be the updatmaking — three ing of the catechism times. We have the of the Catholic first Latin American Church and the Pope, coming from Pontificate ConstiArgentina (the first tution. He also cannon-European in onized more saints nearly 1,500 years; than all of his predeGregory III was cessors — that’s from Syria). We have the first Jesuit 263 popes he beat. (Society of Jesus) pope. And most The last pope before today importantly, from this article’s was Benedict XVI. Benedict XV, perspective, we have the first who was pope during the First Francis. World War, was influential in So what does Francis mean? establishing peace. In a time that
how I must pray, yet I feel uncomfortable praying in an explicitly Christian manner around those who may not share the faith I do. I once heard a minister state that while he struggled with praying in a non-sectarian manner before the legislature in his state, he took seriously his role in offering prayer in order to “solemnize” the legislative proceedings. That seems like a worthy goal, but wouldn’t that give prayer — communion with God — an ulterior motive? Like non-sectarian prayer, utilitarian prayer seems cheap as well. So with all these objections, why do I continue to participate in such public, government prayer? My off-handed answer is that if I give up my slot on the rotation, I fear I will be replaced by someone who has no misgivings whatsoev-
er with making the public prayer time an all-out evangelistic rally. But the deeper reason is that I value my role as a leader in my community. Pastors in small towns in the South often play visible civic (in addition to ecclesiastical) roles. I want to be known as a faith leader who is truly a part of the community, and not in superficial ways. I want folks to know that I care about the education, health and well-being of all members of my community, not simply those who are my church members. I suppose that is why I continue to offer prayers on their behalf before our elected officials — prayers for justice, mercy, and the common good. Daniel E. Glaze (daniel@ fbcahoskie.org) is pastor of First Baptist Church in Ahoskie, N.C.
Well, though there may have never been a Pope Francis until today, perhaps one of the most famous Christian (Catholic) saints is Francis of Assisi. He is the founder of multiple religious orders, one bearing his name, and is the patron saint of animals, the environment, Italy, merchants, stowaways, Cub Scouts and the city of San Francisco. What's most important for us today is that St. Francis, like Mother Theresa, left vast amounts of wealth and took on the clothes of poverty. Francis begged for many years. He also might be considered a reformer, for the papacy and many Catholic institutions of the time were in the midst of corruption. St. Francis’s faith is also considered highly desirable. He was supposedly the recipient of the stigmata, or the signs of Christ’s wounds on the cross. Why is this important now?
Well, if Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, henceforth known as Pope Francis, is like the man whose name he took, we can expect him to be a reformer of corruption (i.e. corrupted bureaucracy in the Vatican as well as the sex abuse scandals), we can expect him to devote the church to social causes (the poor, the hungry, the sick, etc.) and we can expect a call to holiness. I’m not a Catholic, but, hey, these can’t be bad things. I hope he’s successful, and I hope his influence will bring about great change in the Catholic, and the worldwide Christian, church — including among Baptists such as myself. I pray for you Pope Francis! And I pray for Christians worldwide. Joey Giles (jngiles@liberty. edu) is a minister living in Gretna, Va.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
No room for compromise
I write in response to the Religious Herald’s article entitled “Razor thin margin” in the March 25 issue. It is absolutely appalling to see how far we have slipped as Christians and Baptists. To place church autonomy above allegiance to the clear teachings and mandates of God’s Holy Word is both non-Christian and certainly, given our history as Baptists, non-Baptist. The issue is clear: either we will remain true to God, his Holy Word and the example he has given us through his Living Word, Jesus Christ, or we won’t. This, therefore, is not a matter of church autonomy as claimed. Rather, the core issue here is declaring and affirming where our true allegiance as Christians and Baptists belongs and should remain. Thus, Ginter Park Baptist Church and Grace
Baptist Church can choose to ordain or employ a person affirming and/or practicing sodomy/same-sex attraction and behavior, as they’ve chosen to do. Their choice, however, must be met with the removal of good standing and fellowship with sister Christians and Baptists who desire to remain true to God, his Holy Word and the example of His Living Word. Choosing to do otherwise makes a mockery of our stance as Christians and Baptists and, therefore, removes us from the firm theological and moral ground required to boldly and effectively declare the truths of God’s Holy Word and the gospel message to a lost and dying world. Hence, in matters such as these there is no room for compromise. We must heed God’s clarion call to be his holy people — in the culture but not of it. Rather than adding to the con-
fusion existing in this sinful, fallen world, then, let us remain God’s salt and light. Daniel McKay, Newport News, Va.
Open letter to Ginter Park
Dear Pastor Mandy England Cole, I am a member of McLean Baptist Church in McLean, Va. I am writing you as one Baptist to another and not as a representative of my congregation. That having been established, I have been following with interest the events surrounding the ordination of Mr. Scott McGuire from your church — namely, the decision by the Baptist General Association of Virginia to end their association with Ginter Park as a result of the ordination of Mr. McGuire and recently, the Letters Continued on page 23
. Page 22 April 8, 2013
Transitions ON THE MOVE Todd Bradbury, to Bethel Baptist Church, Midlothian, Va., as pastor. Jedidiah Blake, to Hillandale Baptist Church, Adelphia, Md., as pastor. Barry Higgins, to Berea Baptist Church, Louisa, Va., as pastor. Dale Seley, concluding his ministry as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Newport News, Va. Stephen Price, to First Baptist Church, Gaithersburg, Md., as interim pastor. Jeff Roberts, to Jonesboro Heights Baptist Church, Sandford, N.C., as interim pastor. Frank Goare, to Hunton Baptist Church, Glen Allen, Va., as interim pastor. James Copeland, to First Baptist Church, Wallace, N.C., as youth and children’s minister. Andrea Gardner, resigning as music ministry director at First Baptist Church, West Jefferson, N.C. Caleb Foust, to Gayton Baptist Church, Richmond, Va., as associate pastor of youth. Jim Townsend, resigning as associate pastor for outreach ministries at First Baptist Church, Ashland, Va., to relocate to Connecticut. Justin Glenn, to Red Lane Baptist Church, Powhatan, Va., as minister of discipleship and families. Jonathan Eidson, to Sardis Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C., as interim associate pastor. Wellford Dowdy, to Antioch Baptist Church, Sandston, Va., as choir director. Patricia Turner, to First Baptist Church, Elkin, N.C., as part-time interim associate pastor.
TRACKING BAPTISTS ACROSS THE MID-ATLANTIC
Katrina Long, resigning as youth minister at Maplewood Baptist Church, Yadkinville, N.C.
Rob Lemons, to be ordained to the ministry by Ardmore Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C., on April 21.
Juan Gonzales, to Norfolk Baptist Association, as ethnic church planter strategist. He also serves as pastor of First Hispanic Baptist Church of Virginia Beach.
Mike Pumphrey, to Norfolk Baptist Association, as associational church planter strategist. He was church planter for Awaken Church, Virginia Beach, Va., where he serves as pastor. Laura Barclay, resigning as social ministries coordinator at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, to relocate to Kentucky.
RETIREMENTS Kakki Aydlotte, associate pastor for member mobilization at Bon Air Baptist Church, Richmond, Va., retired at the end of 2012. Kelly A. Lane has retired as pastor of Bridgewater (Va.) Baptist Church, after serving there for over 23 years.
Stanley Hare, celebrating 15 years as pastor of Victoria (Va.) Baptist Church. Rick Mallory, celebrating 15 years as pastor of Morgans Baptist Church, Moneta, Va.
5 YEARS Essentino A. Lewis Jr., celebrating 5 years as pastor of Clifton Park Baptist Church, Silver Spring, Md. Ronald D. Moore, celebrating 5 years as pastor of Rocks Baptist Church, Pamplin, Va. Craig Sherouse, celebrating 5 years as senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.
Events FRI., APRIL 12
Ben Powers, retiring as pastor of Crewe (Va.) Baptist Church, effective April 30.
Woodland Heights Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.; hosting the Chowan Singers from Chowan University, Murfreesboro, N.C., at 7 p.m.
SUN., APRIL 14
Joe Ellis Parks died March 7 at the age of 70. He was retired with 30 years of service as an air traffic controller with the FAA and had served as pastor of Rome Missionary Baptist Church in Hillsville, Va., for 10 years. He is survived by his wife, Mary Russell Parks; one son, John Russell; and three grandchildren. A funeral service was held March 9 at Sycamore Baptist Church, Stuart, Va.
Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.; Dove Award nominated songwriter, Audrey Woodhams in concert at 4 p.m.
Kudos ORDINATIONS Heather McDivitt, to be ordained to the ministry by Wingate (N.C.) Baptist Church, on April 14.
contact Brenda Brown at 804-828-0540 or email@example.com.
SUN., APRIL 21 Branch’s Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.; David Musselman, nationally known concert pianist and recording artist, in concert at 11 a.m. Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, Va.; Maranatha 2nd Generation Choir composed of 5th and 6th graders from churches in Fredericksburg area, in concert at 6 p.m.
TUES., APRIL 23 First Baptist Church, Danville, Va.; Virginia Baptist Male Chorale in concert at 7 p.m.
THURS.-SUN., APRIL 25-28 Chesterfield Baptist Church, Moseley, Va.; revival with Brian Hughes, senior pastor of Powhatan (Va.) Community Church, as evangelist.
SAT., APRIL 27 Fredericksburg Baptist Association is sponsoring a concert by the Annie Moses Band at 7 p.m. It will be held at Fairview at River Club, 10835 Tidewater Trail, Fredericksburg. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.
SUN.-TUES., APRIL 28-30 First Baptist Church, Sandford, N.C.; revival with Jack Glasgow, evangelist.
SUN.-WED., APRIL 28-31 SUN.-WED., APRIL 14-17 First Baptist Church, Albemarle, N.C.; revival with David Phelps, evangelist. Green Valley Baptist Church, Lebanon, Va.,; revival with Robert Moore, evangelist. Greenpond Baptist Church, Chatham, Va., and Piney Fork Baptist Church, Gretna, Va.; revival with Sun. & Mon. services at Greenpond and Tues. & Wed. services at Piney Fork. Seth Lackey, Ryan Riley, Jonathan Hillard and Lynn Marstin, evangelists.
TUES., APRIL 16
For more than 25 years the Women of Faith Sunday school class at Cool Spring Baptist Church, Mechanicsville, Va., has hosted an annual luncheon for the physically and mentally challenged and group home residents in the area. Folks from as far away as Farmville attend the Busy Bee Luncheon, typically held on the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday. The event also includes a sharing of the Easter story, various crafts, an Easter egg hunt and games. One of the most popular games is musical chairs. Once eliminated, guests stop by the “bunny table” to select a stuffed animal as a token of love and appreciation. Baskets filled with candy are given as prizes and everyone leaves with a token of Easter and the reminder of how Jesus died and rose again.
Bluefield (Va.) College, Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation sponsored lecture by Florida governor Jeb Bush at 11 a.m. in the Bluefield College dome gymnasium. Open to community at large if space permits.
FRI.-SUN., APRIL 19-21 North Fork Baptist Church, Virglina, Va.; revival with Doug Gibson, pastor of Dan River Baptist Church, Halifax, Va., as evangelist.
SAT., APRIL 20 Highways to Healing, a 2013 Alumni Celebration sponsored by the VCU Departments of Patient Counseling and Pastoral Care, 1-4 p.m. at the Virginia Historical Society. Keynote speaker: James A. Forbes Jr., senior minister emeritus of The Riverside Church, New York City. For information
Powers Memorial Baptist Church, Hopewell, Va.; spiritual renewal/revival with Rod Hale as evangelist.
FRI., MAY 3 Virginia Network of Interim Ministers; “Navigating the Storms of Church Conflict,” 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center. To register contact Sandra Bond at 434-384-2211 or Sandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUN.-FRI., MAY 5-10 Stanardsville (Va.) Baptist Church; revival with Josh Shifflett, evangelist.
News The youth of Mentow Baptist Church, Huddleston, Va., raised $2,500 for a meal packaging event for Stop Hunger Now on April 5. The 10,000 packaged meals will support school feeding programs around the world. Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy has announced that CPT Matt Donohue has been selected as its next head coach of the postgraduate basketball program. He is currently head coach of the high school prep basketball team and a teacher in the English department. Been ordained to the ministry? Accepted a new call? Church celebrating an anniversary? Mission trip or project? Homecoming, revival or other special event? Send info to Heraldbeat editor Barbara Francis at bfrancis@religiousherald. org.
Classifieds April 8, 2013 • 23
CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING To place a classified ad, call Barbara Francis at (804) 672-1973 or email email@example.com. Cost: $ .75 per word with a $25 minimum. 10% discount on classifieds printed in 3 or more issues. Classifieds are posted on our website at no charge for the number of weeks printed in the paper.
SENIOR PASTOR. Zion Baptist Church, Parksley, Va., located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, is seeking a full-time ordained senior pastor with a minimum 3-5 years experience. College and seminary training required. We support the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message and the local association of BGAV and SBC churches. Our worship style is traditional with an emphasis on discipleship and missions. We are searching for a pastor who has compassion as well as strong leadership and organizational skills with all age groups and a desire to participate in community activities. Send resumes to: Pastor Search Committee, Zion Baptist Church, c/o Dave Dryden, 30286 Chesser Rd., Temperanceville, VA 23442 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FULL-TIME SENIOR PASTOR. Forest Hills Baptist Church, a 400-member evangelical, autonomous church, with a global ministry and ties to both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention, invites applications for the position of full-time senior pastor. Our senior pastor will provide spiritual leadership and encouragement to the FHBC congregation so that we can effectively glorify God as a community of Christ followers who love God, love people and make disciples.
The successful candidate will be called by the Holy Spirit to lead our congregation in the implementation of a bold new leadership model tailored specifically to the church’s mission of seeking, serving and sharing Christ. Applicants must be called to reaching the unchurched and have a theological degree. To see a complete senior pastor profile and church profile and information on submitting your resume, visit www.foresthills.org/pastorsearch.
FULL-TIME PASTOR. Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn’s Island, Va., (BGAV, SBC) is seeking a full-time pastor who has a strong pulpit presence and who demonstrates leadership and good humanrelations abilities for our rural Chesapeake Bay congregation. Accredited 4-year college and seminary degree required/ ministry experience 1-5 years preferred. Please send resumes by April 30 to: Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, P.O. Box 26, Gwynn, VA 23066, Attention: Pastor Search Committee. FULL-TIME PASTOR. Flat Rock Baptist Church, www.flatrockbaptist.com, is seeking a full-time pastor. Flat Rock Baptist Church is a moderate/conservative congregation that supports women as deacons, is a dually-aligned church and uses the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. Please send resumes with CD/DVD to: Pastoral Search
Wilson Continued from page 18
are going to buy the car in 10 years.” Healthy congregations go about our ministry and work with an eye toward what will be, not simply what has been. This Corvette is known as the C7, or seventh generation of the brand. This means that, on average, every eight and a half years a major redesign is initiated. My experience is that a healthy congregation needs to undergo an extensive refocus and redesign at least once a decade, if it is to remain relevant to the context it exists in. I came away from my musings about the new Corvette convinced more churches need to follow its lead. I hope Corvette will find new life, reinvent itself, and avoid the fate of now-deceased names like Packard, Edsel, Pontiac and Oldsmobile. I pray we will, too. Bill Wilson (email@example.com) is president of the Center for Con-gregational Health in Winston-Salem. The NPR story may be viewed at http://www.npr.org/ 2013/01/15/169376822/with-redesignedcorvette-gm-ushers-in-new-era-of-americanmuscle-car. Anderson Continued from page 20
Church for 34 years until his death in February 1900 at age 68. He witnessed tremendous changes within his own lifetime
It was recently appraised at $20,000. It is available for sale for $17,500. Please contact Jim Peak for further information at jamesp @btsr.edu or 804-355-8135, ext. 230. GETAWAY CONDO FOR RENT in Myrtle
Beach, S.C. Beautiful two bedrooms, two bathrooms, sofa bed. Rates 30% off similar vacation condos. Sleeps 6. Check our website, www.mbvacationcondo.com or call 804-566-0214.
Committee, Flat Rock Baptist Church, P.O. Box 587, Mount Airy, NC 27030.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, Columbia, Md., is now accepting resumes for Executive Director through April 30, 2013. The right candidate will be a Southern Baptist man and will lead the Convention, as chief executive officer, with vision and sensitivity through planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and utilizing all resources to fulfill the mission of the BCM/D. To apply, visit www.bcmd.org/executive-search.
OTHER STEINWAY GRAND PIANO FOR SALE. BTSR is looking to find a good home for a Steinway Grand! The seminary has a lovely 6’ Steinway Grand Piano Model L that would be “a perfect home or church piano.”
as slavery vanished and freedom offered new challenges. Last year Gilfield celebrated its 215th anniversary. The church maintains a history room filled with memorabilia. Pastor George W.C. Lyons encouraged the church’s history committee to make contact with a paper conservator through the Virginia Baptist Historical Society and numerous early documents have been restored. The story of Henry Williams is told in the book and exhibit entitled “free indeed!” at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. It is a story of a man who should be remembered. Fred Anderson (fred.anderson@vbmb. org) is executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society and the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies. Gallimore Continued from page 20
God, and that they, along with other Christian groups, embrace a more modern expression of Christian faith. This is not to say that all of Christianity today still goes through Rome; I do believe, however, that when the Catholic Church thrives, all of Christianity will thrive. Second, I really like Pope Francis and his practical Christ-like actions have impressed me early. Prior to becoming pope, Francis was known for his concern for the poor and his commitment to reconciliation. Since his election, Francis has refused to dwell in the elaborate papal apartment, opting instead to reside in the Vatican guest house and has
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attended daily mass held for Vatican workers. When Francis first met with pope emeritus Benedict XVI to pray for the future of the Church, he declined the take the place of honor and prayed alongside Benedict on the same bench, humbly declaring, “We are brothers.” The pope broke Church tradition when he washed the feet of two young women during a Maundy Thursday service and prayed for world peace during his first Easter homily. In short, I like Francis because he has come out of the gates bearing witness as a servant and is already redirecting the focus of the Church. So for now, I embrace that we have a new pope and declare “habemus papam” alongside our Catholic brothers and sisters. I think there is much we Baptists can learn from Pope Francis and the new direction he seems to be leading the Vatican. This Easter, may we remember that we serve a resurrected Christ who came to serve and not to be served. It is my prayer that the actions of our new pope will inspire all of Christianity to return to the practical acts of that tradition. Alex Gallimore (alexcgallimore@gmail. com) is pastor of Hester Baptist Church in Oxford, N.C. Letters Continued from page 21
decision of the Richmond Baptist Association to affirm their association with Ginter Park, notwithstanding the ordination of Mr. McGuire. I wish to commend your congregation
for their support of Mr. McGuire in his call to ministry and I admire your courage — and his, of course — in making your decision “public” within the broader Baptist community. It is an ironic comment of our times that courage was required in this case. It would have been preferable to have ordination of anyone whom God has called treated as an event worthy of unconditional acceptance and respect. Thank you and your congregation for honoring Mr. McGuire’s call to service, notwithstanding the unfortunate controversy that has accompanied that decision. While I was dismayed by the BGAV decision, I do feel more encouraged by the RBA decision in general. I hope that you will share my supporting comments with your congregation and/or its leaders and also with Mr. McGuire to let them know that individuals like me throughout Virginia acknowledge your decision and stand by you. I sincerely regret the storm of divisiveness that has been attached to your decision and hope that we all will begin to heal and to grow from this situation. In particular I appreciate your remarks about binding together in fellowship in spite of our differences. I wish to extend my best wishes to Mr. McGuire as he begins his special ministry, and I will pray for him and for you and your church as you continue your good work in the Richmond area. If ever I am visiting Richmond, it will be my pleasure to worship with you in your church. Rita Fagan, McLean, Va.