Archives For October 2018

Pioneering-200-logo-layers-260x300The IBSA Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting are November 6-8 at First Baptist Church in Maryville. Find out how to make the most of your time there:

  1. Check out the exhibit hall. See how the IBSA ministry teams can assist your church. Find out what kind of services GuideStone Financial Services provides. Learn about the programs of study Baptist colleges and seminaries offer. Plus, there’s a Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services dessert reception celebrating 100 years of ministry to children and families in the exhibit hall following the Wednesday evening session. Yum!
  2. Network with old and new friends. You’re at a meeting with 100s of other pastors from cities and churches of all sizes, different backgrounds, full-time and bi-vocational, plus some just like you. Take the opportunity to talk with them about what they’ve experienced, achieved, and hope to do. Talk one child of the King to another about how to help and encourage each other.
  3. Go to the Pastors’ Conference dinner on Tuesday. Have some fried chicken, a Southern Baptist favorite, roast beef, backed rigatoni, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered corn, salad, bread, and dessert. You’ll enjoy food, fun and fellowship Tuesday from 4:30-6 p.m. – all for just $10. Dine again at the church Wednesday evening at the IBSA Annual Meeting and eat dry-rubbed, smoked chicken, topped with cranberry barbecue sauce, pulled pork, mac and cheese, green beans, salad, bread, and dessert for just $12. Reserve tickets online until Nov. 1 at 4:30 p.m. or purchase them at the door.
  4. Welcome new sister churches. Established churches and some that have only recently constituted have gone through the credentials process and will be voted on during the meeting. There are 11 churches asking to join yours in IBSA.
  5. Tweet the Annual Meeting. Or Facebook it, but be sure to use #IBSA2018. Share what you’re learning and what inspires you. See something that you may have missed. Share your selfie with Honest Abe, Abraham Lincoln impersonator, Fritz Klein.

Learn more about the IBSA Annual Meeting.

Lincoln and HomeThe IBSA Pastors’ Conference and Annual Meeting are November 6-8 at First Baptist Church in Maryville. Here’s why you should come:

  1. Participate in democratic process. IBSA is your association. Vote on new board members, budgets, and resolutions (you can even submit one!). Elect association officers and learn how your denomination works.
  2. Be enriched. Hear IBSA President Adron Robinson preach the president’s message and Tom Hufty, senior pastor of FBC Maryville, bring the annual sermon. Be inspired by stories of churches who have embraced the Pioneering Spirit challenges and reports from ministry partners. Enjoy music by worship band Sixteen Cities, and a visit from Honest Abe himself, as portrayed by veteran Lincoln interpreter Fritz Klein. You’ll even have the opportunity to prayerwalk your way through the meeting and find new meaning in why you are there.
  3. Catch the Pioneering Spirit – 200 & Counting. As Illinois celebrates its bicentennial in 2018, we’re inspired by the fortitude of our forbearers, and we’re calling up a new generation of spiritual pioneers today. Find out how your church can join the challenge to 1) Go new places, 2) Engage new people, 3) Make new sacrifices, and 4) Develop new leaders.
  4. Invest in yourself and your church. Attend the Pastors’ Conference, listen to the speakers, and go the breakout sessions. Hear powerful messages from pastors and Bible teachers Darry Gaddy, Noah Oldham, and Matt Crain. Take notes to help you remember important points to bring back to your church and community for growing His Kingdom.
  5. Women’s Ministry. Ladies, you’re not left out. The Ministers’ Wives’ Conference and Luncheon is Wednesday morning and will feature powerful testimonies including a message from author and speaker Mary Mohler, wife of Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler. Come by the Women’s Ministry exhibit for all kinds of sweet treats and resources. Plus, the LifeWay Bookstore will be nearby.

Learn more about the IBSA Annual Meeting.

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J.D. Greear launches podcast
SBC President J.D. Greear has launched a podcast allowing him to engage listener-submitted questions about biblical, ethical, theological, political and practical issues. “Ask Me Anything: Honest Answers, Quick Questions” debuted Oct. 22 with three episodes. Greear is the first SBC president to launch a podcast during his presidential term, LifeWay Christian Resources said.

What voters value: evangelicals choose issues over candidates
The Billy Graham Center Institute and LifeWay Research released a study on how evangelicals voted in 2016. Among the findings, 53% of evangelicals characterized their vote as being for a candidate, while smaller percentages said they cast their vote against Hillary Clinton (18%) or Donald Trump (15%). That only half of evangelical voters said they voted for their candidate in 2016 led researchers to conclude that evangelicals are “more issue-oriented than candidate-focused,” Christianity Today reported.

 Greear: ‘Lie of the enemy’ led to synagogue murder
A shooter opened fire during a baby naming ceremony at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, leaving 11 people dead. The suspect shouted, “All Jews must die,” before opening fire. SBC president J.D. Greear described the crime as “a despicable lie of the enemy which we unequivocally reject.” He also tweeted: “We grieve with the city of Pittsburgh, the Jewish community, and especially the families of the victims.”

AL. Supreme Court calls for end of Roe v. Wade
Alabama’s highest court released a decision recognizing the personhood of unborn babies and includes a concurrent opinion calling for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Justice Tom Parker denounced Roeas a “legal anomaly and logical fallacy” after the Alabama Supreme Court upheld a murder conviction for a man who killed his pregnant wife and their unborn child. Justice Parker then urged the United States Supreme Court to “overrule this increasingly isolated exception to the rights of unborn children.”

New ‘Christian Pixar’ film company to be launched
“I Can Only Imagine” film producers, Andy and Jon Erwin, are creating their own Christian film company similar to Pixar or Marvel. They said the new production company and a series of films is backed by Hollywood. Named “Kingdom,” the company is an Erwin brothers collaboration set to spread the gospel message and “serve the church,” Jon said. 

Sources: Baptist Press (2), Illinois Baptist, Christian Post (2)

In the presence of a pioneer

Lisa Misner —  October 29, 2018

Pioneering-200-logo-layers-260x300By Nate Adams

Not long ago, I was invited by the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau to represent IBSA at a local event, recognizing organizations that have helped attract business to the Springfield area. IBSA was among that group because, in both 2015 and 2018, we hosted the Midwest Leadership Summit at the Springfield Crowne Plaza, drawing more than a thousand pastors and leaders from thirteen Midwest states to nearby hotels and restaurants.

The recognition event was held at the Abraham Lincoln Museum, and much to our delight, one of the presenters was Abraham Lincoln himself. As each of us were called to the platform, a Lincoln statuette was handed to us by a statuesque, flesh-and-blood Lincoln!

Of course, all of us know that our now beloved sixteenth President has been gone for more than 150 years. Our very convincing “Lincoln interpreter” was an actor named Fritz Klein, who looks remarkably like the historic Lincoln, and whose full-time profession is now portraying him in settings all over the United States.

May we be willing to go new places, engage new people, make new sacrifices, and develop new leaders.

Even so, as I was called to the platform, I found myself feeling a bit in awe of the towering figure who smiled and handed me my little statue. At his insistence, we each paused and posed for a quick photo. And for a brief moment, the warm smile and rehearsed mannerisms of Mr. Klein made me feel as if it were Mr. Lincoln who was pleased with me, and with IBSA.

Shortly after that event, I invited Mr. Klein to come and join us at our IBSA Annual Meeting this November. For one thing, it’s hard to imagine celebrating the Land of Lincoln bicentennial without some nod to Mr. Lincoln. But more importantly, I hope the image and memory of Abraham Lincoln will remind us that he was one of our state’s earliest pioneers, and that we need that pioneering spirit in our churches today.

Pioneers are willing to go new places, engage new people, make new sacrifices, and develop new leaders. Lincoln and his family personified these pioneering qualities, but so did dozens, and then hundreds, and eventually thousands of Baptists, who entered our fledgling state with both the Gospel and the desire to establish new churches.

In the early 1800’s, evangelism, church planting, missions giving, and leadership development were not easy. And they’re not easy in the early 2000’s. Even today, these kinds of missionary endeavors aren’t usually attempted or accomplished by complacent settlers, but by courageous pioneers.

By the time the IBSA Annual Meeting convenes in Maryville November 7-8, we hope to celebrate 200 years of statehood by also celebrating at least 200 Baptist churches who are embracing one or more of these “pioneering spirit” challenges. (Your church can register for these at www.pioneeringspirit.org.) A little more than 180 churches have embraced one or more of these challenges already, and we are hopeful that more than 200 will do so by the end of the IBSA Annual Meeting.

I don’t expect to have the kind of impact on Illinois or history that Mr. Lincoln did. But I do want to be the kind of pioneer that continues to bring both the Gospel and new Baptist churches to the places in Illinois that don’t have them yet. Welcoming new believers into heaven is so much more important than welcoming new business into Springfield. And of course the celebration event will be hosted by Someone so much more statuesque than Mr. Lincoln.

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

Letter urges genocide designation in Myanmar
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear joined a coalition of leaders asking U.S. officials to label persecution in Myanmar “genocide.” In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, more than 70 humanitarian and faith leaders said Myanmar’s military-led campaign against Rohingya Muslims and other religious minorities qualifies as genocide and “crimes against humanity.” The group wrote, “We urgently encourage you to take immediate action by articulating a moral, political, and policy designation respecting the dignity and safety of victimized Burmese individuals.”

> Related: Christianity Today reports Christians in Myanmar also are in danger, although their plight is less well-documented and hasn’t received much response from the global church.

Officials pledge more aid for Iraqi Christians
The Trump administration has pledged $178 million to help religious minorities in Iraq, bringing the fiscal year total to nearly $300 million in aid for Christians and others persecuted by ISIS in the country.

Five statistics on global hunger
The Southern Baptist Convention designates one Sunday each October as Global Hunger Sunday, an opportunity to pray for and give to ministries that help relieve hunger, a global problem that affects around 795 million people worldwide.

Judge dismisses sexual abuse charges against Pressler
A Texas court has dismissed charges of sexual abuse, conspiracy, and negligence against Paul Pressler, who helped lead the Southern Baptist Convention’s return to conservative theology in the 1980s and 90s. The Southern Baptist Convention also had been named in a lawsuit filed by plaintiff Gerald Duane Rollins, but Judge R.K. Sandhill’s Oct. 15 order dismissed the charges against the SBC because the statute of limitations has run out, Baptist Press reported.

Study details America’s shifting theology
While more than half of Americans believe only those who trust in Jesus alone as Savior receive eternal salvation, a new survey by LifeWay Research found, an even larger percentage believe most people are good by nature.

Sources: Christian Post, Christianity Today, Baptist Press, LifeWay Research

 

 

 

 

MeToo

It happens every day. Women and children, and sometimes men, are victims of physical, sexual, mental, and other types of abuse. Many are too afraid or embarrassed to seek help. Some won’t even admit to themselves what is happening. Others turn to pastors and church leaders for help. But pastors and church leaders don’t always feel equipped to help.

For those in ministry, there is increased confusion over which incidents to report, which government officials to report them to, and when it’s appropriate to break a church member’s confidence in the sometimes competing matters of compassion and compliance.

Southern Baptists were rocked last spring when the denomination came face-to-face with the #MeToo movement sweeping the country. Paige Patterson, then president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, received sharp criticism for remarks he had made in a sermon in 2000 about his counsel to a woman regarding domestic abuse and divorce. Patterson was also alleged to have mishandled allegations of sexual assault while serving as president of another Southern Baptist seminary.

The Patterson controversy, which ended in his firing, was followed by other, unrelated allegations of sexual abuse that had gone unreported for decades. In May, Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler wrote, “The SBC is in the midst of its own horrifying #MeToo moment.”

It’s not just the denomination that’s reeling from the movement; individual churches are wrestling with the issues of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual assault, and struggling to determine the legal requirements of reporting such violence. They’re also tasked with answering a different question: How do we deal faithfully with these issues, in light of the gospel?

Reporting abuse
A recent LifeWay Research study found two-thirds of pastors say domestic or sexual violence occurs in the lives of people in their church. But half say they don’t have sufficient training to address it. And about one-third of pastors who have heard of the #MeToo movement say it has caused more confusion about the issue for their church.

One helpful resource for IBSA churches is Illinois Baptist Children’s Home and Family

Services, led by Executive Director Denny Hydrick. BCHFS is very familiar with Illinois laws regarding reporting child abuse, and also employs counselors at its Pathways Counseling Centers around the state who work with people of all ages. The agency is equipped to help IBSA churches as they wade through the proper steps in reporting abuse and caring for the abused, no matter their age.

In recent years, sexual abuse scandals in religious communities have compelled churches and clergy members to become better equipped to report child abuse. Illinois law has a long list of mandated reporters—those people required to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Members of the clergy are on the list.

The Illinois Department of Children’s and Family Services Children’s Justice Task Force directs mandated reporters to “notify authorities of suspected child maltreatment immediately when they have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that a child known to them in their professional or official capacity may be an abused or neglected child.” Reports may be made by calling (800) 252-2873.

Domestic violence can be a more difficult topic for church leaders, because reporting isn’t generally mandated. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA), which is used to obtain orders of protection, discusses physical abuse as well as harassment, interference with personal liberty, intimidation of a dependent, willful deprivation, neglect, and exploitation.

The act doesn’t speak directly to churches or clergy, but it may offer some guidance in defining different types of domestic violence and outlining the responsibilities of law enforcement and healthcare providers.

What about events that took place in the past? In Illinois, when abuse involves what was then a minor, “you do have a duty to report that even though it is no longer occurring,” Hydrick said.

When dealing with children, attorney Richard Baker stressed that mandated reporters have a legal obligation to report abuse within 48 hours. But the standards for reporting change when dealing with adults. Baker, a partner at Mauck & Baker, LLC in Chicago, said, “The assumption is when you are an adult you have the where-with-all to report for yourself.” (Mauck & Baker specializes in religious liberty issues, and frequently represents churches in legal matters.)

The law doesn’t mandate that a pastor has to report a woman has been abused. Baker said pastors have to take into account the setting when a woman says she has been abused. “Was it confidential? Was it a group setting? Then, there isn’t such an expectation of privacy. The context is very important.”

The matter of “context” has become an issue, as some people have become concerned that public confession by an adult in a small group setting about being abused, for example, might require church leaders to notify authorities. Some church leaders in other states have suggested that is the case in their states, making sharing of personal information by group participants dicey. But, following Baker’s advice, don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Yes, it’s a gray area and laws are expanding. Baker noted new questions are being raised and precedents are being set. “[But] there are differences in religious and professional contexts,” he said.

When there are questions about what is mandated by statute, “I always go back and look it up,” he said. Licensed counselors and medical professionals have their own legal reporting standards, which are different from ministerial ethics.

Bring it to light
“We’ve heard stories in other denominations of ignoring these things or covering them up, but I think as Christians we need to be proactive in not covering them up,” Hydrick said. “I think we have to recognize sin and call it sin. We need to address sin in our own lives and churches.”

Baker argues for transparency. “Transparency in policy is a very wise thing. Everybody wants to deny and hide things under a rug, but that’s not good in the long run. We have to err on the side of love.”

This summer, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas approved a resolution “On Abuse.” Messengers to the IBSA Annual Meeting will be asked to consider a similar resolution next month.

In the SBC resolution, messengers voted to “condemn all forms of abuse and repudiate with a unified voice all abusive behavior as unquestionably sinful and under the just condemnation of our Holy God.” The resolution also called on “pastors and ministry leaders to foster safe environments in which abused persons may both recognize the reprehensible nature of their abuse and reveal such abuse to pastors and ministry leaders in safety and expectation of being believed and protected.”

In short: Baptist pastors are not priests, and the pastor’s office is not a confessional, but adult victims of abuse still have the priviledge of confidentiality about what may have happened to them. In contrast, alleged perpetraitors, especially in cases involving children, do not. That’s when “mandatory reporting” applies.

SBC President J.D. Greear recently announced the formation of a Sexual Abuse Advisory Committee (see column at left). And Baptist Press reported at last month’s Southern Baptist Executive Committee meeting that Gateway and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries have begun partnerships with Ministry Safe, a sex abuse prevention organization, to add sexual abuse and harassment prevention training to their course offerings.

The Southern Baptist Convention provides a list of resources for sexual abuse prevention on their website, sbc.net. For more information about background checks, protecting children and vulnerable adults, creating a safe environment at church, and more, go to sbc.net/churchresources/sexabuseprevention.asp.

Be ready

Denny Hydrick of Illinois Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services suggests these four steps for churches in handling domestic and sexual violence:

1. Pastors should be aware of local resources before an issue arises. Is there a nearby domestic violence shelter, and if so, how does a person make a referral? Build relationships with local law enforcement professionals. Know other social service supports, like the local Child Advocacy Center or the State’s Attorney’s office, who may also employ a victim’s advocate.

2. Keep numbers on hand. These contacts are listed on Illinois’ Department of Human Services website:
• For suspicion of child abuse or neglect – (800)-25 ABUSE

• Imminent harm or danger of any person – 911

• Abuse of a person with mental illness or developmental disability – (800) 368-1463

• Domestic Violence Helpline – (877) 863-6338

• Elder abuse – (866) 800-1409

3. Keep an updated list of local mental health and social service professionals. BCHFS is always willing to assist pastors in handling concerns with children and families, Hydrick said. Contact BCHFS at (618) 382-4164.

4. Get assistance. Often in domestic violence situations, even the best intentions of providing for safety can lead to an increase in violence. Make sure you work with a person with experience handling domestic violence situations.

Hydrick cautioned, “Safety must always supersede an ethical dilemma that may be present. There are ways to assess safety, but that should be done by a trained professional.”

The Briefing

Imprisoned pastor freed
After two years of detention in Turkey, Andrew Brunson touched down on U.S. soil Oct. 13. Brunson was released after a 2- year incarceration stemming from disputed charges that could have led to life imprisonment. Although Turkey did not proclaim the North Carolina native innocent, a court in Aliaga released Brunson Oct. 12.

On his way home to North Carolina, Brunson stopped in Washington, D.C., where he met with President Donald Trump and prayed for him, The Christian Post reported.

Hurricane Michael hits churches ‘like a bomb’
Hurricane Michael damaged at least 50 Southern Baptist church buildings in Florida and Georgia, according to initial estimates. Despite the carnage, churches in Panama City and beyond held Sunday morning services just four days after Michael made landfall. In addition, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams from nearby states set up a kitchen and began serving meals to the community over the weekend in partnership with American Red Cross.

Message author enters hospice care
Eugene Peterson, the theologian and author best known for The Message translation of the Bible, is receiving hospice care, his family shared over the weekend. Many Christian leaders responded to the announcement by remembering Peterson’s influence and asking for prayer on his behalf. “Let’s everyone of us who have benefited much from this great man’s writing all stop and pray for him right now,” Ethics and Religious Liberty President Russell Moore said on Twitter. “And then let’s thank God for the model of a long obedience in the right direction.”

Canada considers euthanizing children
Doctors from a Toronto children’s hospital recently published policies on physician-assisted suicide for children. The policy, written at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, outlines the hospital’s decisions on which children would be euthanized under Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) law. The policy also reveals that in some cases, parents won’t be notified until after the child has died.

Seven traits of a healthy church leader
Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, lists embracing change as one seven traits exhibited by healthy church leaders.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christian Post, Christianity Today