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Baptist church saved amidst CA fire
When the deadliest wildfire in California state history struck the town of Magalia, pastor Doug Crowder of Magalia Pines Baptist Church opened his church to those unable to evacuate the town to take shelter with church members and himself. Despite the engulfing flames, the people came out unscathed the next day. While everything around the church had been incinerated, the church’s property was untouched.

Final rules guard conscience from abortion mandate
The seven-year battle by objectors to the abortion/contraception mandate has come to a regulatory close with a victory for freedom of conscience. The Trump administration issued two final rules Nov. 7 that supply conscience protections to Americans with a religious or moral objection to the 2011 mandate instituted under President Obama.

IMB taps Paul Chitwood as presidential candidate
The International Mission Board trustees’ presidential search committee announced Nov. 6 that the committee will recommend Paul Chitwood, 48, to be elected as the 173-year-old entity’s 13th president. The vote to elect Chitwood is scheduled for the Nov. 15 plenary session during their IMB board meeting in Richmond.

IBSA churches meet mission field with ‘Pioneering Spirit’
Illinois set the foundation for IBSA’s Annual Meeting Nov. 7-8 at First Baptist Church in Maryville. The state’s bicentennial highlighted the 112th annual gathering of Southern Baptists in Illinois. The meeting also focused on four “Pioneering Spirit” challenges churches have embraced over the past year so that the gospel is advanced in a state where more than 8 million people do not know Christ.

Man files lawsuit to change age
A Dutch entrepreneur has filed a lawsuit to legally change his age to 49 – that’s 20 years younger than his chronological age. Emile Ratelband wants to change his birth date, stating that if one can change genders, he is justified to change his age. of A local court in the Netherlands will rule on the case in December.

Sources: Baptist Press (3), Illinois Baptist, CBN

Asia Bibi released from Pakistan’s death row
The release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman imprisoned for almost nine years on blasphemy charges, was cause for celebration and caution among religious freedom advocates worldwide. “She cannot be released openly,” said an attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice. “If she is, there’s no doubt, no question about it, that her life will be in jeopardy.”

‘Stand for Life’ becomes ERLC initiative
An online group promoting the sanctity of every human life will become part of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Stand for Life, which began with a post by founder Jess Barfield of her infant son, has as its mission to promote human dignity through storytelling.

Sessions faces criticism from some in his denomination
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is under fire from some Methodist ministers who oppose his role in policies that separate families at the border. In a letter sent to Sessions last summer, United Methodist Church leaders urged a “reconciling process that will help this long-time member of our connection [Sessions] step back from his harmful actions and work to repair the damage he is currently causing to immigrants, particularly children and families.”

Charleston church shooting is subject of documentary
The 2015 shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church is the subject of “Emanuel,” a documentary executive produced by actress Viola Davis and Golden State Warrior Steph Curry.

Midterm election: Evangelicals in the spotlight
As voters cast their ballots in today’s midterm election, slow shifts in the evangelical voting bloc are unlikely to result in gains for progressive candidates, USA Today reports.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, USA Today

“Pioneering Spirit” is the theme of the 2018 IBSA Annual Meeting, kicking off Nov. 7 at First Baptist Church in Maryville. The meeting will highlight the four challenges put before churches at last year’s meeting: go new places, engage new people, make new sacrifices, and develop new leaders.

Visitors to the meeting will also be invited on a virtual prayer tour where they can intercede for ministries across the state, all from inside FBC Maryville. The life-size log cabin from last year’s meeting will also return, featuring visual displays about Illinois’ mission field.

Fritz Klein, a renowned Abraham Lincoln interpreter, will join IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams for the Wednesday evening session. Worship band Sixteen Cities will lead music during the meeting.

Prior to the Annual Meeting, the IBSA Pastors’ Conference will focus on “Blazing New Trails” with messages from urban church planting strategist Darryl Gaddy, St. Louis pastor Noah Oldham, and Illinois leaders Matt Crain and Ted Max. IBSA ministers’ wives will meet Wednesday morning for their annual conference, and there are also meetings planned for young leaders, church planters and sponsoring churches, and associational leaders.

For more information about the meetings, schedules, and meals, go to IBSAannualmeeting.org. And follow along here for news and updates from Maryville.

Most white evangelical voters plan to vote Republican in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to research by PRRI, including many of those 18-29 years old. But the voting bloc is changing, researchers say.

“White evangelical protestants have certainly been a powerful force in American politics for a couple of generations since the ‘80s and (Ronald) Reagan, but their clout in the general population is waning over the last 10 years,” PRRI CEO Robert Jones told USA Today. “There’s been a bigger loss at the younger end of the spectrum.”

According to PRRI, white evangelicals comprise 15% of the U.S. population, down from nearly a quarter in 2008. And the median age is 56. Younger evangelicals tend to think differently about certain issues than their parents, like same-sex marriage and the environment. (The New York Times recently interviewed young evangelicals about faith in the current political climate.)

The differences in ideology could eventually show up at the ballot box, but probably not this year, University of North Carolina professor Molly Worthen told USA Today.

“The religious right, as a network of very savvy political institutions, will continue to punch above its weight politically for decades,” Worthen said. “Even as we see that secularizing trend persist, it will not likely immediately translate to a huge turnout of votes for progressive political candidates.”

Race also plays a role in how evangelicals vote, according to a recent study by LifeWay Research and Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center. The research found 77% of white voters with evangelical beliefs voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, while 86% of African-American voters with evangelical beliefs voted for Hillary Clinton.

Most evangelicals haven’t changed their minds since 2016, according to the research. Nine in ten said they felt strong support for their preferred candidate then, and today, 88% say they still do.

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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)

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

 

 

 

 

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