May 9, 2013 â€˘ ISSUE 9
MISSION GREENSPOINT Outpost for Jesus is saving lives, offering hope and help in challenging Houston neighborhood.
Houston Scouts favor traditional policy
Rhode Island 10th state to legalize gay marriage
Contents 2 5
What do you mean by ‘persecution’? Let’s be measured in our talk about persecution stateside, lest we find ourselves faced with public yawns when the fiery furnace really heats up.
Page: U.S. at immigration ‘crossroads’ Frank Page said in a recent speech that the U.S. stands “at a crossroad of opportunity” for dealing justly with the nation’s illegal immigrants.
Houston’s Mission Greenspoint dispelling darkness with light
president 3 College ‘exonerated’ by trustees Louisiana College trustees on April 30 voted to exonerate college President Joe Aguillard of accusations of impropriety, including allegations of misusing funds.
Houston-area Scout council favors traditional policy One of the nation’s largest Boy Scouts councils voted against the resolution proposing changes in the national membership standards that would allow openly homosexual boys and teens to join the organization.
In a deteriorating Houston neighborhood, a Christian missionary venture with a pregnancy resource center and social service arm, supported largely by Southern Baptist churches, is making a difference.
TEXAN Digital is e-published twice monthly by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, 4500 State Highway 360, Grapevine, TX 76099-1988. Jim Richards, Executive Director
GuideStone webpage devoted to Obamacare requirements GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention has devoted a webpage on its site to help its constituents stay informed of developments related to the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.
Gary Ledbetter, Editor Jerry Pierce, Managing Editor Tammi Ledbetter, News Editor Russell Lightner, Design & Layout Stephanie Barksdale, Subscriptions Contributing Writers Bonnie Pritchett To contact the TEXAN office, visit texanonline.net/contact or call toll free 877.953.7282 (SBTC)
What do you mean by ‘persecution’?
his week Pastor Saeed Abedini celebrated his 33rd birthday from a prison cell deep in Iran, reportedly clinging to the promised hope from Romans 8 that persecution and death cannot separate a believer from God’s love. Abedini, an Iranian-born U.S. citizen and Muslim-turned-Jesus follower, has been repeatedly beaten, tortured and just last month denied medical care, reportedly for internal injuries, for refusing to deny Christ. Arrested last September on one of his trips back to Iran, he’s faced death threats from authorities and recently from fellow prisoners, all while enduring separation from his wife and two sons in Idaho. He’s not the first to suffer persecution of biblical proportions. According to the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, citing the International Journal of Missionary Research, 171,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2005 alone. How many do you know by name? I can’t name one. Meanwhile, it seems persecution of the “soft” kind, as one website termed it, is on the rise domestically. Regularly, I get emails, fundraising letters (often written in hyperbolic terms) and read news stories of a public school student or government employee denied his constitutional rights because some bumbling bureaucrat read a memo and got overzealous. In most of these cases, someone forgot to tell them that the First Amendment also has something called the Free Exercise Clause. We saw this type of politically correct overreaction in the Plano school district in the previous decade with confiscated candy cane pens and Christmas pencils, among other absurdities. There are a thousand other examples from coast to coast of such governmental clumsiness in the name of religious and ideological pluralism. 2 TEXANONLINE.NET MAY 1, 2013
We are watching our own military to see what becomes of apparent tension over how “evangelism” is somehow distinguished from “proselytizing,” who can do either, when they can do it, how they can do it, etc. When it comes to handling the religious aspects of the First Amendment, our government entities are the proverbial bull in the china closet, leaving a mess with the slightest provocation. It’s maddening, head scratching. But is it persecution? And if so, should I feel guilty for citing the candy cane pen case in the same breath as Pastor Saeed or the 171,000 aforementioned martyrs or the Sudanese Christians who were threatened of being “buried alive” by government interrogators? Guilt is not needed here. Perspective is, though. Call it harassment. Call it pre-persecution or persecution light. It’s not always directed at Christians with malice, though it’s almost always Christians who are in the crosshairs. Being perceived as the favored religion in a politically correct, hypersensitive climate has its drawbacks. More often than not, stupidity is the reason for First Amendment encroachments. But malice exists. And if history is an indicator, it could get more blatant. A teacher asked to remove a Bible from her desk or a federal ruling that disallows religious symbolism at a war memorial is not exactly the same thing as what Saeed is going through. On the other hand, the beneficiaries of American liberty live abroad as well. Human rights groups, missionary enterprises, and government diplomats exercise positive pressure around the world because human dignity and freedom of conscience are valued in America. We are still an exceptional influence, for now. If we lose that distinctive, the world suffers. We are only a force for good abroad if we are a force for good at home also. One definition of Christian persecution, from a missionary watchdog group called Release International, defines it as such: “A situation where Christians are repetitively, persistently and systematically inflicted with grave or serious suffering or harm and deprived of (or significantly threatened with deprival of) their basic human rights because of a difference that comes from being a Christian that the persecutor will not tolerate.” Clearly, this definition has cases like Pastor Saeed’s in mind. And we’re not there just yet. So let’s be measured in our talk about persecution, lest we find ourselves faced with public yawns when the fiery furnace really heats up. In the high-stakes contention for religious liberty, credibility is crucial.
Long-term effort to turn Texas ‘blue’ is on In a modest office on Austin’s 6th Street, “seven folks, average age 30, sit around an oval table, tapping on their laptops, plotting the takeover of the state of Texas.” So goes the lead paragraph in a story in the Austin American-Statesman about the Democrat party’s strategy to turn the solidly red state of Texas donkey blue. According to the story, the 31-year-old “community organizer” from California running “Battleground Texas” is optimistic, saying the effort is going well and “Texans are ready. It’s time.” Battleground Texas has a booster in Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn, whom the Statesman called the “Daddy Warbucks of Texas Democratic politics.” Asked about it, Gov. Rick Perry has said competition is healthy but downplayed any notion of Texas turning blue or even purple anytime soon.
College president ‘exonerated’ by trustees
Kenny law firm, and according to the
Louisiana College trustees on April
report dated March 17, the allegations
30 voted to exonerate college President Joe Aguillard of accusations of
were confirmed. The allegations affirmed by the out-
impropriety, including allegations of
side investigation included using the
school of divinity funds to support an
Gene Lee, chairman of the LC board,
LC mission trip, and that the president
read a statement after the meeting,
“misled” trustees and donors regard-
with Aguillard by his side, stating:
ing other funding and gifts.
“After a long, thorough investiga-
By a 4-3 vote, a special trustee
tion, the board has exonerated Dr.
committee voted to recommend: “In
Aguillard of all allegations that were
response to the allegations against Dr.
brought forward in the whistleblower
Aguillard, the committee finds that
the President has not acted improp-
Concluding the vote, the board, led by Lee, circled the president, laying hands on him in prayer, asking God
erly and no further action on this matter is needed.” That committee included some
for “love and unity amongst the board
notable board members, including
and the administration,” Baptist Press
Tony Perkins of Baton Rouge, presi-
dent of the Washington-based Family
Lee declined to comment on any
Research Council, who voted against
specifics of the trustee meeting, say-
the recommendation along with Lee,
ing the issues regarding Aguillard
the board chairman, and Jack Hunter,
took place in executive session. The
New Orleans director of missions and
Baptist Message state newsjournal did
a longtime attorney.
learn the vote concerning Aguillard
Those voting to recommend Aguil-
was conducted via ballot rather than a
lard’s exoneration included the Loui-
voice vote or show of hands.
siana convention president, Waylon
According to a report in the Alex-
Bailey, and its executive director,
andria (La.) Town Talk newspaper,
David Hankins, along with retired
the vote was close after an investiga-
educator Glenn Wilkins and Louisiana
tion by a New Orleans law firm into
pastor Kris Chenier.
charges Aguillard diverted funds for
Following the vote, a $10 million do-
the college’s divinity school to other
nation from an anonymous couple to
the school—the largest gift in school
According to Baptist Press, three
complaints were investigated by the MAY 1, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 3
Moore, Ezell address military religious freedom
‘Experiencing God’: New film recaps 23 years of discipleship A documentary about the impact of “Experiencing God”—a discipleship study that influenced a generation—is the first release of LifeWay Films. “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God” by Henry Blackaby and Claude King has touched and changed millions of lives and thousands of churches worldwide since its release in 1990. The workbook has sold more than 7 million copies, is available in more than 45 languages and has been used in almost every denomination. Experiencing God has spawned dozens of other books and tools including the newly released “Experiencing God at Home” book and curriculum, “Your Church Experiencing God Together,” “The Man God Uses,” “Fresh Encounter” and the “Experiencing God Musical.” Now, the documentary focuses on some of the stories reflecting Experiencing God’s influence for more
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than two decades. LifeWay Films is a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. “We’ve heard hundreds of stories about how Experiencing God served as a catalyst for someone to make a dramatic life change,” King, LifeWay’s discipleship specialist, said. “We pray that these three will represent well the influence Experiencing God has had over these 23 years.” Neil Hoppe, producer and host of the documentary, and director Bill Cox traveled to Lynch, Ky., Angola (La.) state penitentiary, two villages in Honduras and Atlanta to film segments that chronicle the movement of God through the discipleship study. The film is available at LifeWay stores and LifeWay.com. Messengers to the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention are invited to attend a free screening of the documentary Tuesday, June 11, and Wednesday, June 12, from noon to 1 p.m.
Two Southern Baptist leaders have issued a statement voicing concern about religious freedom within the U.S. military but also cautioning Christians to refrain from jumping to conclusions about recent incidents in the military that have been perceived by some as threats to religious liberty. Russell Moore The statement was issued by Russell Moore, president-elect of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. The ERLC is the SBC’s public policy arm. NAMB oversees the endorsement of chaplains to the U.S. military on behalf of the SBC. “We have no interest in fomenting conspiracy theories,” the statement reads. “We have no interest in misrepresenting our military leaders. At the same time, we do not want to ignore potential threats to religious liberty.” Kevin Ezell The statement addresses several reported incidents that have raised concern among Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians in recent weeks. “These reports have elicited a great deal of concern and confusion among military chaplains, pastors and congregations,” the statement reads. “In some cases, misinformation has been mixed with fact, with the possible result of furthering already tense relationships between military and religious communities.” Ezell said he hopes the statement will serve two primary purposes. “We want our chaplains and troops to know their religious freedoms are a top concern for us,” Ezell said. “We want the U.S. military to know we are a friend. But right now we are a friend who has some serious concerns.” The statement includes a detailed section listing concerns about how the Department of Defense defines terms like “evangelizing” and “proselytizing” as it relates to military personnel who want to share their faith with others.
Page: U.S. at immigration ‘crossroads’
R.I. 10th state to legalize gay marriage Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize gay marriage on May 2 when its governor signed a bill into law. With cheering supporters behind him, Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent, signed the bill at an outdoor ceremony in front of the state House, shortly after the bill cleared its final hurdle in that same chamber, 56-15. The bill’s passage was celebrated on the House floor, too, with legislators singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” after the bill’s passage. The same bill had passed the state Senate, 26-12, in late April. The bill’s signing means that all six New England states now have legalized gay marriage. Including Rhode Island, four of those states passed a civil unions law—seen by some as a compromise—prior to redefining marriage. Massachusetts was the first in the region—and the nation—to legalize gay marriage when a court ruling went into effect in 2004. The Rhode Island law will go into effect Aug. 1. Meanwhile, Christopher Plante, regional director for the National Organization for
Marriage, criticized the decision as short-sighted. “Children deserve to know and be cared for by a mom and dad,” Plante said. “This law will intentionally deny children one or the other. The full impact may not be seen next week or next year, but our children will be the ones who pay the price for this decision.” Chafee, in his 2011 inaugural address, called for the state to legalize gay marriage. He is a former Republican U.S. senator who left the party partly because he disagreed with its social conservatism. “Today we are making history,” Chafee told the crowd at the bill signing. “I am proud to say that now, at long last, you are free to marry the person you love.” Delaware could become the 11th state to redefine marriage. The Delaware House passed a gay marriage bill in April, 23-18, sending it to the state Senate. The governor has said he would sign it. Thirty states define marriage within their state constitutions as being between a man and a woman.
As support for immigration reform continues to grow among Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians, Frank Page said in a recent speech that the U.S. stands “at a crossroad of opportunity” for dealing justly with the nation’s illegal immigrants. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, spoke at a “New American Generation Conference” at North Greenville UniFrank Page versity’s Turner Chapel. Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush, was keynote speaker for the event. Page shared his thoughts on immigration reform with a story by Billy Graham, a glimpse at Micah 6:8, and a reminder of King David’s example. President John F. Kennedy once told Graham he needed to talk with him in person, but Graham wasn’t feeling well and told the president he couldn’t make it. Three weeks later, Kennedy was assassinated. Graham has said he regrets his decision to this day because it was an irrecoverable moment. “There are times for nations when these moments come,” Page said of the issue of immigration reform. “Our nation is at a crossroad of opportunity.” Page quoted Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Page said, “This should be our platform for immigration reform.” The Southern Baptist Convention must do a better job of reaching ethnic groups, Page added. “I want to see their involvement in all areas of convention life,” he said. “We must do rightly and act justly.” Loving mercy is essential for immigration reform, Page said. As David showed mercy to Mephibosheth, the crippled grandson of King Saul, so reform must involve the rule of law while at the same time establish policies based on laws that demonstrate mercy, he said. Finally, Page said immigration reform must include humbly walking before God. David made big mistakes, but his repentance was great as well, Page said. “Humility calls for kindness,” he added. “While some didn’t agree with the messenger-approved 2011 SBC resolution on immigration, we must deal with each other with a humble spirit.”
MAY 1, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 5
with light By Bonnie Pritchett
In a deteriorating area of Houston, a Christian missionary venture with a pregnancy resource center and social service arm, supported largely by Southern Baptist churches, is making a difference. A history of violence associated with this part of town has earned its more infamous shopping center, Greenspoint Mall, the moniker “Gunspoint Mall.”
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The Greenspoint area sits on the city’s northeast side, near the edge of Houston proper. Like so many metropolitan regions it has seen an ebb and flow of prosperity and decline. The majority Hispanic population settled into the void left by residents fleeing the flooding of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. Many are poor and undereducated, most just barely scraping by. Among them is an unquantifiable illegal immigrant population living in the shadows, said Silvano Paiva, a church planting facilitator in Houston for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Additionally, gang violence, drug dealing, and prostitution have blighted the neighborhood. Paiva used to live in the area and is disturbed by its decline.
Flora Lopez, director of the Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center, stands beside a collage of photos of babies who were saved through the ministry affiliated with Mission Greenspoint in Houston. Every person who comes through the doors is offered the gospel message. photo by GARY LEDBETTER/texan digital
A Mission Greenspoint volunteer (right) visits with a mother and her son. The ministry provides a range of social ministry to the Greenspoint neighborhood in northeast Houston with the gospel message front and center. Last year, 492 people recorded professions of faith through the ministry, which is heavily supported by Southern Baptist churches. photo by BONNIE PRITCHETT/texan digital
He said the neighborhood is made of “good families” forced to live in an environment with an increasingly degenerative influence on the younger generations. “The darkness is penetrating at a faster pace than Christians can keep up,” he said. But light shines brightest in the darkness. In the heart of this troubled community shines Mission Greenspoint, a Christ-centered ministry operating a stone’s throw from “Gunspoint Mall.” The multi-faceted ministry is staffed by a small brigade of faithful volunteers and three paid employees
committed to sharing the gospel with those who have little else besides their faith. Throughout its 15-year history Mission Greenspoint has aspired to be all things to all people and is now on the cusp of expanding its reach into the community. Grady Butler, Mission Greenspoint executive director, is in preliminary talks with a local non-profit health care organization providing services to Houston’s most vulnerable. The partnership would address sorely needed medical care for Greenspoint residents. The inclusion of medical care along with the planned expansion of services would require the center to move. Butler said the ministry is negotiating the purchase of a vacant building not far from the current location and on a major bus line. One of the ministries serving under the auspices of Mission Greenspoint that would directly benefit from the medical expansion is Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center (GPAC). GPAC Director Flora Lopez said offering medical care would be a boon to the pregnancy center. Abortion-minded women and those wanting to keep their babies would receive Christcentered care throughout their pregnancies. And last month GPAC got the news they were hoping for: An ultrasound machine is on the way, donated by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Psalm 139 Project (see related story).
Gospel engagement The growth of services provided by Mission Greenspoint only emphasizes the persistent needs of the community, but Butler is not discouraged by the seemingly endless struggle against poverty. On the contrary, every client represents an opportunity to share the gospel.
“Everyone who walks in the door of Mission Greenspoint is going to get the opportunity to hear the gospel.”— Robin Tanner MAY 1, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 7
Robin Tanner, missions coordinator for Metropolitan Baptist Church—one of numerous Southern Baptist churches that partner with the ministry—appreciates the evangelistic emphasis of the ministry. “Everyone who walks in the door of Mission Greenspoint is going to get the opportunity to hear the gospel,” Tanner said. Lopez said she chronicles conversations with each of her clients in a journal. “We really get engaged,” she said. “It’s about their emotional and spiritual needs.” Her notes allow Lopez to reconnect with each client upon their return. Many are A group of Mission Greenspoint volunteers gather for prayer at the center. dumbfounded by her recollection and genuine concern. And hundreds each year make burden for some basic needs clients are can put their commitments to Jesus Christ. own resources toward those needs. Butler records each decision made—not to keep a The life-affirming influence of Mission Greenspoint spiritual score card but as a reminder to himself, the is supported with $47,000 in annual funding by volunteers, and the ministry’s supporters of why they 12 local churches. The offering pays three staff persist in their efforts. members (the yeomen’s work is done by volunteers In 2012 Butler noted 492 professions of faith. Dayincluding Butler and his wife Cindy) and finances the to-day contact accounts for some of the salvations supplementation of client material needs. but most were made during events that drew the Metropolitan Baptist Church, Champion Forest community to the center—back-to-school supply Baptist Church, and Spring Baptist Church are among drives, Thanksgiving food baskets, a Christmas store, the supporting congregations, supplying labor and more. routinely and during large-scale supply drives held It was during last year’s back-to-school drive that throughout the year. Butler became aware of the pervasive homelessness Lopez said the task of caring for the poor and of some of their clients. Several hundred children live wayward would be overwhelming for those not in area motels or a downtown homeless shelter with grounded in their faith and resting on the assurances their families. that God is in control and working out all things for Mission Greenspoint is surrounded by the good. She said it doesn’t hurt that God encourages her 65,000-student Aldine Independent School District. by revealing victories against the darkness. Eighty-five percent of the district’s students are Lopez told of a woman overwhelmed with the classified as economically disadvantaged, earning burdens that come with a husband who abuses drugs the district federal Title I funding to supplement the and alcohol. His job was in jeopardy. He needed school district’s education needs. stability and, most importantly, salvation, she told Standing in the gap is Mission Greenspoint, Lopez. The women prayed for the husband. And Lopez providing not only food and clothing but job training, made note of their time together in her journal. English-as-a-Second-Language classes, assistance Thirty days later she was able to go back to her with Social Security paperwork and other government journal and conclude the story. The wife contacted forms for Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps. Lopez and told her that two days after they prayed Some of the classes are offered as need and interests together the husband gave his life to Christ, went to prescribe. The ongoing need is always for food and church with his wife, and put drugs and alcohol out of clothing. The mission does not give vouchers or his life. housing payments, but by reducing the financial One more light to dispel the darkness. 8 TEXANONLINE.NET MAY 1, 2013
Ultrasound machine a game-changer for Houston pregnancy center ERLC’s Psalm 139 Project making it possible to save more lives in difficult Houston neighborhood. By Bonnie Pritchett After she hung up the phone Flora Lopez wiped tears from her eyes. The caller confirmed her hopes and prayers—God had seen fit to bless Greenspoint Pregnancy Assistance Center (GPAC) with a sonogram machine. No more would she have to tell inquiring women GPAC could not provide the imaging service, leaving her to wonder if they sought counsel at a disinterested medical clinic or turned to a local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic for the assistance she could not provide. The caller, Gary Ledbetter, director of communications and facilitating ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, got to relay the good news: The Psalm 139 Project, a ministry of the Nashvillebased Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had raised the funds needed to provide a sonogram machine for GPAC. It’s been a tradition that a pregnancy resource ministry in the host city of the SBC’s annual meeting gets a sonogram machine as a means to save babies from abortion. This year’s SBC is in Houston, June 11-12.
Studies have shown that women who are open to abortion are less likely to seek one after a sonogram. The Psalm 139 Project raises the $25,000-$32,000 needed to purchase sonogram machines for qualifying pregnancy assistance centers. Lopez said a sonogram machine would significantly broaden the reach of the ministry, opening the doors of GPAC to a substantial population of women who do not share the pro-life views of their parents
dent School District and near three community colleges. Planned Parenthood clinics are within walking distance of the campuses. The young women and girls— some still in intermediate school— could come to GPAC for their initial pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and counseling. Lopez has established a good working relationship with the school district and believes an onsite ultrasound would bolster that trust.
“The parents and adults who immigrated here, they will live with the embarrassment of an unwed pregnancy rather than have an abortion. However, their children are influenced by the new culture.” —SBTC church planting facilitator Silvano Paiva
and grandparents in this predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. “The parents and adults who immigrated here, they will live with the embarrassment of an unwed pregnancy rather than have an abortion,” said SBTC church planting facilitator Silvano Paiva. “However, their children are influenced by the new culture.” There is a large potential clientele surrounding GPAC that does not share the pro-life mindset. It is those women Lopez longs to reach. Mission Greenspoint, at 243 A Greens Road, is situated within the 65,000-student Aldine Indepen-
The school district is grateful for ministries like Mission Greenspoint that supplement their efforts to keep pregnant students in school, said Charlotte Davis, Aldine’s director of the guidance, counseling and at-risk department. “It’s a huge resource for the district,” Davis said. Eighty-five percent of the AISD population is considered economically disadvantaged, earning the district Title I support from the federal government. Davis said with the addition of free sonograms at GPAC, students could forego the wait and expense of a visit to a doctor. MAY 1, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 9
“It helps us, our parents, our families,” Davis said. And helping facilitate the draw to GPAC and its new sonogram machine is a 2011 Texas law. The Texas Legislature passed House Bill 15 requiring Texas women to receive an ultrasound screening 24 hours prior to an abortion. The offer of a free ultrasound could draw women to GPAC and its Christ-centered ministry instead of abortion providers. And Lopez said a sonogram machine at GPAC would help change the culture and draw young girls and women from the abortion clinics. In her three years as GPAC director she has seen abortion-minded women choose to carry their babies to term after viewing an ultrasound. What was once no more substantive in their minds than a missed menstrual cycle or morning sickness was given shape and form by the machine. Even so, an unplanned pregnancy can rouse panic in women already struggling to provide for a family or go to school. Even if she is married the challenges seem daunting. Lopez said most of the women she counsels want to keep their babies but can’t see how that is possible. The Greenspoint neighborhood is known for its high crime rate and economically disadvantaged population. A hopeful existence is hard to come by. But prayer, encouragement, material support and the gospel message assuage many fears, Lopez noted. At the very least the clients understand someone is on their side. Lopez is adamant in defining GPAC and its parent ministry, Mission Greenspoint, as Christ-centered ministries. “Faithbased” can be too loosely interpreted, she said. It also lacks intentional-
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ity. No one, she said, comes to Mission Greenspoint or GPAC without hearing the gospel and receiving prayer. To find out more about the Psalm 139 Project or make a contribution go to psalm139project.org or contact the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tenn., 37203. To contact Lopez or Mission Greenspoint, visit missiongreenspoint.org.
Committee on Committees announced Appointments to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Committee on Committees have been announced by SBC President Fred Luter Jr. The Committee on Committees will meet in Houston just prior to the SBC annual meeting, June 11-12, to nominate members of the Committee on Nominations who, in turn, nominate trustees to serve on boards of the various entities of the SBC. SBC Bylaw 19 also provides that the Committee on Committees “shall nominate all special committees authorized during the sessions of the Convention not otherwise provided for.” The Committee on Committees encompasses 70 members, two from each of the areas served by the 35 state or regional conventions qualified for representation on boards of SBC entities. Robert J. Anderson Jr., pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., has been designated to serve as committee chairman. Texans nominated are Rebekah Lightner, Southlake Baptist Church, Southlake, and Keith Sanders, First Baptist Church, Keller.
GuideStone webpage devoted to updates on Obamacare requirements By Jerry Pierce DALLAS
GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention has devoted a webpage on its site to help its constituents stay informed of developments related to the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. The federal law passed in 2011, frequently dubbed Obamacare, has generated dozens of lawsuits from Christian non-profits and from several Christianowned businesses for its requirements that contraceptives, including those causing early abortions such Plan B and ella, be provided directly or indirectly through employer-sponsored insurance. To date, GuideStone has opted to work through legislative channels toward a resolution that provides conscience protections for religious non-profits that aren’t classified as religious congregations.
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said on Feb. 4 following the release of additional federal guidelines that purported to help religious objectors: “GuideStone has been pursuing multiple avenues of advocacy on behalf of our participants and the churches we serve, and we remain firmly committed to that advocacy. Although it does appear that certain restrictions that could have limited the ability of churches to be exempt from these rules may have been eased, various areas are reserved for future rule-making, so definitive statements at this time regarding whether or how these proposed rules could actually work are premature.” Hawkins added that GuideStone would not rule out future litigation if other means failed, and that GuideStone “fully and fervently supports the actions of other believers who are pursuing actions in the courts....” A PDF summary of the Affordable Care Act is available on the GuideStone website, as well as a video message from Hawkins.
MAY 1, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 11
Houston-area Scout council favors traditional policy, but liberal regions reflect other values. National vote: May 23 at Grapevine’s Gaylord Texan By Bonnie Pritchett HOUSTON
ne of the nation’s largest Boy Scouts of America councils voted against the resolution proposing changes in the national membership standards that would allow openly homosexual boys and teens to join the organization. The vote reflected overwhelming opposition to the resolution as quantified in polling data produced by the Sam Houston Area Council (SHAC) showing 75 percent of respondents favor the current standard. Despite the vote by the SHAC, which represents 50,000 Scouts and 20,000 volunteers over a 16-county area, they will be bound by a national vote on May 23 during the national BSA’s annual business meeting at Grapevine’s Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center. Rodney Eads, SHAC board chairman, said the proposed national membership policy would allow openly homosexual youth to join Scouts while continuing to bar avowed homosexual adults from leadership positions. The SHAC votes are only 12 of 1,400 that will be counted 12 TEXANONLINE.NET MAY 1, 2013
when delegates from across the nation convene and address the contentious proposal. That the organization is still having the discussion frustrates Scout advocates who believe the 2000 Supreme Court decision maintaining the BSA’s constitutional right to set its own membership guidelines settled the issue. Despite that decision, the 103-year-old organization’s standards that bar from membership and leadership openly homosexual boys and adults have faced a ground swell of discontent from within its ranks. Opposition to the existing policy has come from the ground up, especially from the more liberal areas of the country, Scout representatives said. SHAC spokeswoman Lynda Sanders said calls from those challenging the policy found sympathetic ears on the BSA National Executive Board. Last year and again in February it became public that the executive board was addressing membership policy changes. The ensuing public campaign from those on both sides of the debate overwhelmed the national offices. Last year the board voted to maintain current standards. But in February they voted to table the issue and continue the discussion internally and via a poll of the organization’s parents and leadership. Sanders said she believes the current membership resolution is a summation of that polling. “There are different sentiments all over the country,” Sanders said. The opinions of Scouts and their leadership on the West and East coasts vary dramatically from those in Houston and the traditionally more conservative South and even the Midwest. But Sanders said some Scout representatives have complained the current membership policy hurts local membership and fundraising efforts in more liberal regions of the country. In a press release prefacing the policy change proposal, the BSA stated: “While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting.” Polling conducted by the Sam Houston Area Council revealed 75 percent of the parents and leaders oppose any change to the current policy. The national BSA poll came to the same conclusion for this region. “The resolution also reinforces that Scouting
is a youth program and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,” the statement read. Critics of any policy change contend the new standard gives tacit approval to homosexuality. Those fighting the status quo say the proposal sends a mixed message: It’s acceptable to be a homosexual Scout, at least until you turn 18 and become eligible to be an adult leader. In advance of the national vote, area BSA councils across the country will host voter education meetings through May 15. Local councils will vote on the resolution and elect delegates to carry those votes to the May 23 national meeting. The number of delegates is proportionate to the membership of each council.
Forney pastor to be nominated for SBTC president ODESSA
An Odessa pastor has announced plans to nominate Jimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, for president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention during the state convention’s annual meeting this October. Bryon McWilliams, pastor for First Baptist Church of Odessa and a former SBTC president, said of Pritchard: “Bro. Jimmy has served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, Texas for 19 years. He is a strong proponent of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Cooperative Program with FBC Forney giving 10% of all undesignated receipts annually. “Serving as a fellow trustee of the International Mission Board, I have been privileged to witness Bro. Jimmy’s effective leadership firsthand. He served as chairman of the board during a most strenuous time, leading the board and search process to find the current president, Dr. Tom Elliff. He was God’s man for the hour then and I believe he will be equally so at this time in the life of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.” SBTC President Terry Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church, is in his second term and will pass the gavel to a new president at the close of the annual meeting Oct. 28-29 in Amarillo.
Church history prof Leon McBeth dies FORT WORTH
(BP)—H. Leon McBeth, distinguished professor of church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for 45 years, died April 29 in Fort Worth. He was 81. McBeth was honored by the Baptist History and Heritage Society this spring with a festschrift (a volume of writings contributed by different authors as a tribute to a scholar) in its Baptist History & Heritage journal. The publication was placed in the mail the same week as McBeth’s death. His 1987 text “The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness”—also called “the big blue book”—became used widely in Southern Baptist seminaries and other academic settings. “Anyone who sat in one of Dr. McBeth’s classes or seminars can verify that he also set the standard as a master storyteller,” Michael E. Williams, dean and professor of history at Dallas Baptist University, writes in one of the festschrift articles. McBeth wrote numerous books, but his history of the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources), was never published. His “Celebrating Heritage and Hope” history of the board’s first 100 years, written under contract, prompted extensive delib-
erations among editors of then-Broadman Press, BSSB administrators, trustees and attorneys whether it accorded balanced treatment to conservatives and moderates during the 1980s. The trustees’ then-chairman called it “unbalanced”; McBeth called it a “balanced interpretive history.” McBeth had chaired the trustees of the SBC’s former Historical Commission and was president of the Baptist History and Heritage Society. A native of the Texas panhandle, he was pastor of churches in western and central Texas in his early ministry. McBeth was preceded in death by his first wife, Ada Miller McBeth, and a son, Mark. He is survived by his wife, Thelma Grace McBeth; a daughter, Ruth Ann Rugg; two sons, Jerry and David; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His funeral was May 4 at University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, with burial at Greenwood Memorial Park. MAY 1, 2013 TEXANONLINE.NET 13
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