Archives For March 2016

Fulkerson and Porter group photo web

Disaster Relief volunteers Bob Fulkerson and his wife Margie (left) and Butch and Debbie Porter (right) rest for a moment during a call out a few years ago in New York. Fulkerson passed away Tuesday, March 29 while serving on a call out in Leesville, La. Both couples are members of First Baptist Church of Galatia, Ill. Photo courtesy Butch and Debbie Porter.

Funeral arrangements have been made for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) volunteer Don Fulkerson, who died of a heart attack Tuesday, March 29, while serving flood victims in Leesville, Louisiana. Fulkerson, 77, was with a group of trained DR workers from First Baptist Church of Galatia, IL, and volunteers from other Illinois Baptist churches.

Visitation will take place Friday, April 1 from 6-9 p.m.  and Saturday, April 2 from 9-11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Galatia, 108 E. Church St., Galatia, IL 62935. His funeral will be Saturday, April 2 at 11 a.m. also at First Baptist Church of Galatia. Fulkerson was a member of the church.

Rex Alexander, Disaster Relief coordinator for the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA), suggested DR volunteers attending the funeral, “wear your yellow shirts in honor of Don’s faithful service to the Lord through Disaster Relief Ministry.” Southern Baptist DR volunteers are easily identified at disaster recovery scenes by the bright yellow shirts they wear.

“The callout to Louisiana was Don’s 15th response over a period of only four years and his wife, Margie, was almost always by his side serving whenever the opportunity arose,” shared Alexander. “Their faithful service to Christ brought great joy to both of them as they served side by side in the ministry of Disaster Relief.”

Cards of condolence may be mailed to his widow Margie Fulkerson, P.O. Box 5, Galatia, IL 62935.

The DR team from First Baptist Church of Galatia were first responders in what is expected to be a series of callouts to aid victims of spring floods in Louisiana. IIBSA teams will serve alongside teams from around the country.

IBSA has 1,600 trained volunteers who serve as part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Disaster Relief ministry (SBDR), the third largest relief agency in the United States. Disaster Relief often responds to natural disasters by providing feeding stations, mobile kitchens, child care, and chaplains. In the case of flooding, volunteers in their signature yellow shirts help homeowners with “mudout,” clearing flooded properties of debris and contaminated building materials, so they can begin rebuilding and recovery.

Lessons from Tom Adams

ib2newseditor —  March 31, 2016
Tom Adams

Tom Adams

It still surprises and moves me that so many people in Illinois Baptist churches fondly remember my father Tom Adams, or at least his writing. Dad entered his eternal life with the Lord ten years ago, just one month after I began my role here as IBSA’s executive director. Yet more often than not when I visit a church, one or more of its members will tell me how much my dad or his writing meant to them.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for one of those older church members to reach into their Bible and pull out a yellowed clipping of one of his columns because it met a particular, deep need in their lives. Dad wrote for the Illinois Baptist for 34 years, through columns such as “Problem Corner,” or “Ask Tom Adams.” So he became a sort of corresponding counselor to many.

Frankly, I thought I would have my dad’s counsel for a few more years here in Illinois.  Instead I have needed to rely on the years I had to observe him as father, pastor, and associational leader. With his memory in my heart, here are some of the lessons I learned from Tom Adams.

1. Writing broadens and lengthens influence.
Dad never pastored a large church, nor held a position of great stature. But because he wrote down carefully considered thoughts at least every couple of weeks for decades, he touched tens of thousands of people he wouldn’t have otherwise.

2. Few words can be more impactful than many words.
Dad was a man of few words interpersonally, and the format of his columns gave him only a little room to express an opinion or idea in writing. But he demonstrated both in speech and writing that a few, carefully considered words can have great impact. Apparently they also fit better in your Bible.

3. Readers are better leaders.
My dad would be the first to admit that his wisdom didn’t come from his own deep intellect or extensive formal education. But he was one of the more widely read men I have ever known. Just ask my mom, whose house is still filled with an incredible variety of books, even after giving many away. I’ve never been the avid reader my dad was. But I’ve rarely gone in to a serious meeting or problem without doing my homework.

4. Face your fears with faith.
I didn’t know it until years later, but my dad was scared to death to move our family from Southern Illinois to the Chicago area. My mom tells me he became physically ill over the decision to follow God’s call there. What was very hard for him became very good for me, and in their own ways for the rest of our family. For reasons I can’t go into here, I doubt very much if I would be at IBSA today if he hadn’t made that move when I was fourteen. But his example helps me face my fears with faith, even today.

5. Invest fully where you are.
Dad was never a self-promoter, or a ladder-climber. I know he dreamed of another position or two in his life, but he always chose to invest fully where he was called, until God through others beckoned him elsewhere. Me too.

I jotted down some other lessons I learned from Tom Adams: Do what you know is right, and trust God with the consequences. Marry well and let your spouse be herself.  How you say something can be just as important as what you say.  Some burdens are best borne privately.  Leaders come in all personality types.

A few years ago my mom and I helped my dad organize some of his Illinois Baptist columns into a book, titled after one of his columns, “Speaking Out.” If you don’t have a copy and will write me, I will be glad to send you one. He would be pleased for you to have it.  And I will be pleased for his influence to touch your life, as it deeply has mine.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Don Fulkerson

Don Fulkerson

Leesville, Louisiana | A volunteer with a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) team from Illinois died of a heart attack Tuesday, March 29, while serving flood victims in Leesville, Louisiana. Don Fulkerson, 77, was a member of First Baptist Church of Galatia, Illinois. He was serving with a group of trained relief workers from the church and others from churches around Illinois.

“The callout to Louisiana was Don’s 15th response over a period of only four years and his wife, Margie, was almost always by his side serving whenever the opportunity arose,” said Rex Alexander, Disaster Relief coordinator for the Illinois Baptist State Association (IBSA). “Their faithful service to Christ brought great joy to both of them as they served side by side in the ministry of Disaster Relief,” Alexander said.

The DR team from First Baptist Church of Galatia were first responders in what is expected to be a series of callouts to aid victims of spring floods in Louisiana. Illinois teams will serve alongside teams from around the country.

“Our Illinois Baptist family certainly grieves with and is in prayer for the Fulkerson family, and the entire church family at First Baptist in Galatia,” said IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams. “We appreciate so much Don’s and Margie’s service, along with so many other devoted disaster relief volunteers, and we are confident that Don’s life and sacrifice will bring eternal rewards, both to him and to the lives he touched.”

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) coordinates Southern Baptist Disaster Relief on the national level. NAMB president and former Illinois Baptist pastor Kevin Ezell extended his condolences to the family of Fulkerson as they mourn his passing. “Don is a great example of someone who chose to stay active into his later years and to contribute in a way that truly made a difference in the lives of others,” said Ezell. “I pray that his wife Margie and his entire family will feel God’s love and comfort during these days and that they will also be aware of the gratitude and appreciation for them from their entire Southern Baptist family.”

IBSA has 1,600 trained volunteers who serve as part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Disaster Relief ministry (SBDR), the third largest relief agency in the United States. Disaster Relief often responds to natural disasters by providing feeding stations, mobile kitchens, child care, and chaplains. In the case of flooding, volunteers in their signature yellow shirts  help homeowners with “mudout,” clearing flooded properties of debris and contaminated building materials, so they can begin rebuilding and recovery.

Contact:
Illinois Baptist State Association
Lisa Sergent, Director of Communications
3085 Stevenson Drive
Springfield, Illinois 62703
LisaSergent@IBSA.org
(217) 391-3119

 

The BriefingGeorgia governor to veto pastor protection bill
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said he will veto legislation shielding opponents of same-sex marriage, after a groundswell of opposition from companies such as Coca-Cola, Disney, and the NFL threatening to boycott the state if it became law.

Crosby 3rd candidate for SBC president
Louisiana pastor David Crosby will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, former SBC President Fred Luter announced. During the 20 years Crosby has pastored First Baptist Church in New Orleans, the congregation has given between 7 and 15% of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, Luter said.

Indiana bans Down’s Syndrome abortions
Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a new pro-life bill into law that will, among other things, prevent the abortions of babies diagnosed with a disability or defect. “Some of my most precious moments as governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome,” said Pence.

Suspects, arms seized after attack on Pakistani Christians kills 72
Security forces, hunting for suspects in the deadly Easter Sunday bombing targeting Christians in a Lahore park, raided locations in three cities overnight and arrested suspected terrorists. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed more such attacks.

4 Wycliffe Associates Bible translators murdered
Four Wycliffe Associates workers have been killed in an attack by radicals in the organization’s office in the Middle East. Two of the Wycliffe workers were apparently killed by gunshots, while two others laid on top of the lead translator and died while “deflecting bludgeoning blows from the radicals’ spent weapons,” and managed to save his life.

Sources: Time, Baptist Press, MRCTV, CNN, Christian Post

David Crosby

David Crosby

New Orleans pastor David Crosby is the third candidate to be named as a nominee for Southern Baptist Convention president. On March 24, former SBC President Fred Luter announced he will nominate Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church, to the post during the SBC Annual Meeting in St. Louis.

“I have watched David the last 10 years here in New Orleans as he has taken the leadership of all the churches and pastors of our city in helping to rebuild New Orleans, which everybody knows was totally destroyed [in 2005] in Hurricane Katrina,” Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, told Baptist Press.

Crosby joins previously announced candidates — J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.

In contrast to Greear and Gaines, Crosby has lead his church to a higher percentage in Cooperative Program giving. According to Luter, during the 20 years Crosby has pastored First Baptist, the congregation has given between 7-15% of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program. Annual Church Profile reports show First Baptist’s total missions giving to be at least 22% of its undesignated receipts annually over the past five years.

Greear’s church gives 2.4% of undesignated receipts to CP, while Gaines’ gives approximately 4.6% of undesignated receipts to CP.

First Baptist has averaged 658 people in Sunday morning worship services and 24 baptisms between 2011 and 2015. The Summit’s baptisms increased from 19 in 2002, when Greear arrived, to 928 in 2014. Bellevue has averaged 481 baptisms annually during Gaines’ tenure.

Crosby is married and has three children and eight grandchildren. He earned a master of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of philosophy from Baylor University.

March 2 Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., announced he will nominate Greear, and March 9 Johnny Hunt, former SBC president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said he will nominate Gaines.

The 2016 Southern Baptist Convention will take place June 14-15 in St. Louis, MO. Current SBC President Ronnie Floyd is finishing his second term in the post. Floyd is pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas.

Smart phones make smart disciplesMy faith was greatly impacted in college by a church that challenged me to be a student of the Bible. That love for personal Bible study has motivated me to become an advocate for biblical literacy—a need highlighted by a recent Lifeway Research study that found only 45% of regular church attenders read the Bible more than once a week.

Before becoming a pastor, I always viewed the main responsibility as preaching. But now I understand why the role isn’t called “Senior Preacher.” As a pastor, I have a responsibility to build stronger disciples in Jesus Christ, and that’s an impossible task apart from the Bible.

To help combat biblical illiteracy at our church, we have turned to an app called YouVersion. I think of it as an example of what Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:22: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” YouVersion is a 21st century response to Paul’s approach.

With over 200 million downloads, the app is a helpful tool that any church can easily use. It’s free, can be carried on any smart phone or tablet (or accessed by a computer at bible.com), and offers valuable opportunities for biblical accountability and community.

A long-time church member stopped by my office last month and said, “I want to grow closer to the Lord.” After listening to his testimony of faith, I inquired about his personal devotional times. He admitted to not reading the Bible much, and so I asked him to pull out his phone. We quickly downloaded YouVersion, and got him started on a daily reading plan through the Gospel of John.

He texted me later that night to tell me he finished the entire book of John! “Should I just go onto Acts?” he asked. Since then, he has not only finished Acts for the first time, but is now re-reading it to gain a better understanding of the story. He credits his success to the ease of YouVersion.

We’ve used YouVersion with recent converts to Christ. I helped them get the download and choose a reading plan. This has provided these brand new believers with a clear plan and goal for their Bible reading.

As with other forms of social media, you can “friend” others through YouVersion. As you do, your homepage fills up with news of their progress through Bible plans or verses they highlighted. So I not only learn from my own Bible reading, but that of others in my church. And anytime one of my friends has been offline for a while, I know to check in with them.

Two weeks in a row, highlighted Scriptures from members of my church made their way into the messages I had been working on for that week. They were thrilled to know their personal study of the Bible had influenced my own.

Even my 10-year-old daughter switched to YouVersion on her Kindle last year and I use it to monitor and comment on her reading.

I also use my YouVersion newsfeed as a prayer list. As I see the names of friends and passages they’re studying, I pray for their study and usually let them know I’m praying. And watching comments between our members regarding a particular passage is a great encouragement to me as their pastor.

We as a church also use the YouVersion live component. This allows us to create “events” for each upcoming sermon. People can read the Scripture passage and interact through polls, or by posting comments or questions. And again, it’s 100% free.

I should tell you, YouVersion doesn’t pay me for my advocacy. I’m merely sharing how this Bible app has had an impact on our church. Like many churches, we’re often slow adopters when it comes to technology. And while a digital Bible is no better than a traditional Bible, it’s time we used every opportunity available to us in building biblically literate believers in Jesus Christ.

Heath Tibbetts pastors First Baptist Church, Machesney Park.

Takes to airwaves to save kids and streets

An IBSA pastor appeared on the “Steve Harvey Show” last month to bring attention to rampant gun violence in his city. Corey Brooks, who pastors New Beginnings Church on Chicago’s South Side, was part of a four-person panel on Harvey’s Feb. 15 episode, the whole of which was dedicated to violence in Chicago.

Chicago pastor Corey Brooks (right)

Chicago pastor Corey Brooks (far right), “The thing that will change and solve the problem of violence is the gospel.”

It’s a problem Brooks has been fighting for years, most notably during his 2011 campaign on the roof of a motel across the street from his church. “I was just tired of it,” Brooks said of the crime that riddled the motel. With only a tent to protect him from the Chicago winter, Brooks spent 94 days on the roof, until he had raised $555,000—enough money to buy the hotel and tear it down. His church is now raising money to build a community center in its place.

In 2015, Chicago had 468 homicides, the Chicago Tribune reported, the most of any U.S. city. More than 2,900 people were shot. Already in 2016, there have been 467 shooting victims in Chicago.

Brooks’s church sits in a neighborhood that one newspaper labeled in 2014 the city’s most dangerous. But when New Beginnings moved in to the location, they were looking for a place they could make a difference.

“We wanted an area that really needed the gospel, an area that really needed a lot of help,” Brooks told the Illinois Baptist. “God has really been good to us, and we’re doing the best we can do in that area. It’s difficult, but we’re working really hard.”

The church started a non-profit called “Project HOOD” that focuses on mentoring initiatives. It was Brooks’s time on the motel roof that first introduced him to talk show host Steve Harvey, who gave the pastor his Best Community Leader Award in 2012. Harvey’s foundation has since partnered with Project HOOD.

On the Feb. 15 episode of Harvey’s show, which tapes in Chicago, Brooks’s fellow panelists—a former school principal, a journalist, and a Catholic priest—came from very different walks of life than his own. But to solve the problem of gun violence, Brooks said, people are going to have to work together.

In fact, that’s why his church affiliated with the Illinois Baptist State Association in 2015. “I realized that this issue is a lot bigger than what an independent church can handle,” Brooks said. “You need to be aligned and partnering and collaborating with other groups that believe what you believe” so that you can bring needed resources into communities, he said.

“The thing that will change and solve the problem of violence is the gospel.”

Meredith Flynn is an editorial contributor to the Illinois Baptist.