Archives For Disaster Relief

Disaster Relief teams respond in Iowa, Nebraska
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders are working with a critical timeframe in the Midwest, where flooding has damaged homes and displaced residents. With tornado season looming and warmer temperatures on the way, responding to more than 1,400 requests for help is urgent, said Sam Porter, national director for SBDR at the North American Mission Board.

Illinois teams are currently serving in Glenwood, Iowa, and are scheduled to be there through May. For more information, go to IBSA.org/DR.

Prolific Warren Wiersbe remembered for writing gift
“I’m not an athlete, I’m not a mechanic,” said writer and pastor Warren Wiersbe. “I can’t do so many of the things that successful men can do. But I can read and study and think and teach. This is a beautiful, wonderful gift from God.”

Wiersbe authored more than 150 books, including the “Be” commentaries, a 50-volume series on the Old and New Testaments. Wiersbe died May 2 at the age of 89.

Fellow leaders mourn Rachel Held Evans
Progressive Christian writer and speaker Rachel Held Evans died May 4 after a brief illness. She was 37. Christian leaders from across the theological spectrum grieved for Evans’ husband and young children, and lauded her unique style, despite disagreements they may have had.

Church membership down, anxiety up nationwide
Gallup reported last month that 50% of Americans are church members, a decline of 20 percentage points since 1999. Another study from the researcher reports Americans were more stressed, worried, and angry in 2018 than at most other times in the last decade.

Floyd calls church to unity on National Day of Prayer
“…Government cannot fix us. Politics cannot heal us. But loving one another can change the world,” said Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd on the National Day of Prayer observance in the U.S. Capitol. Floyd, National Day of Prayer Task Force chairman and president-election of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, said, “A divided church cannot call a divided nation to unity. Love is the better way.”

-Baptist Press (2), Christianity Today, ChristianPost.com, Gallup.com

Who’s at your table?
A new Barna study found one-fourth of households with practicing Christians are “spiritually vibrant,” meaning families pray and read the Bible together, talk about God regularly, and open their doors to non-family guests. They also eat together, researchers found—63% of vibrant households eat breakfast together, and 75% share dinner.

College dean quits after school blocks Chick-Fil-A on campus
Rider University’s Cynthia Newman announced she will step down as a dean at the New Jersey school after a popular fast food chain was removed from a list of possible on-campus offerings. Chick-Fil-A got favorable reviews on a student survey last year, but was removed from a second survey because of its CEO’s much-publicized views on marriage.

Georgia church fires staff member accused of abuse
One of the Southern Baptist churches named in newspaper investigation of sexual abuse has terminated a staff member who allegedly admitted he had assaulted young people, Baptist Press reports. Trinity Baptist in Ashburn, Ga., was one of 10 churches identified in a February report in the Houston Chronicle as having ignored claims or dealt inappropriately with charges of sexual abuse.

>Related: Response to abuse spurs debate over Baptist process, polity

Baker reaches truce in legal battle over cakes
Jack Phillips has ended his legal battle with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but the six-year conflict raised questions—many still unanswered—about a proprieter’s right to limit business based on religious conviction, Baptist Press reports.

UK rules could protect minors from internet porn
New guidelines in the United Kingdom will require users of free online pornography sites to verify they are legal adults, possibly serving as a gatekeeper for younger users.

Living in the aftermath: Pastor recounts Alabama tornadoes
Kevin Webb, associate pastor at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala., writes that many in his community are still reeling from tornadoes that killed 23 people earlier this month.

Sources: Barna, Associated Press, Baptist Press (2), Relevant, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

SBC workgroup clears 6 churches, says 3 warrant further inquiry
During a Feb. 18 report in Nashville, Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear named 10 Southern Baptist churches mentioned in a recent newspaper report on sexual abuse, asking the SBC Executive Committee’s bylaws workgroup to determine whether the churches have operated with a faith and practice closely aligned to the SBC’s adopted statement of faith.

The workgroup responded Feb. 23, reporting that while three of the churches warrant further inquiry, six do not. The response was met with dismay and outrage by victims and advocates, including Rachael Denhollander, a member of Greear’s Presidential Study Group on Sexual Abuse.

“J.D. Greear and some leaders have been seeking expert/survivor help and moving forward with firm first steps to change,” Denhollander tweeted. “The EC has undermined and destroyed that effort. I hope these mistakes are due to lack of learning and that they will withdraw, seek help and remedy these errors.”

Illinois Disaster Relief volunteer childcare room brings peace after shooting
Three days after a gunman killed five people at an Aurora manufacturing plant, Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were on the scene to minister to grieving families.

Methodists vote to uphold Biblical sexuality
The United Methodist Church on Tuesday voted at its international conference in St. Louis, Mo., to apply its standards on Biblical marriage and sexuality more consistently throughout the denomination, according to World Magazine.

Executive Committee: Presidential nomination coming ‘very soon’
Illinois Baptist pastor Adron Robinson said the SBC’s Executive Committee has identified “God’s candidate” for their presidential vacancy. Robinson, search committee vice chairman and pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills, said Feb. 19 the search committee cannot announce the candidate’s name yet because they have not officially notified the person of their intent to nominate him.

10-year-old advises SBC leaders on value of kids in ministry
Ten-year-old Zak McCullar brightened the Executive Committee’s February meeting with his presentation in favor of a Children’s Ministry Day across the Southern Baptist Convention. McCullar, who made a motion supporting the idea during last summer’s SBC annual meeting, spoke to the EC during their final session Feb. 19.

Dutch Christians face opposition over statement on biblical sexuality
Christian leaders in the Netherlands are facing backlash over a statement affirming biblical sexuality, Baptist Press reported late last week. The Nashville Statement, released in 2017 by U.S. evangelicals including the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in part affirms “that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.”

In the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage was legalized in 2001, signers of the statement have been threatened with criminal prosecution, BP reported.

Harvest Church to drop lawsuit
Harvest Bible Chapel announced plans to drop a lawsuit against a reporter and a group of bloggers who released reports of mismanagement and poor leadership at the Chicagoland megachurch. Harvest and Pastor James MacDonald claimed defamation when they sued reporter Julie Roys and the team behind “The Elephant’s Debt” last October. Earlier this month, a judge denied the church’s attempt to keep subpoenaed documents private, Christianity Today reported.

MacDonald was scheduled to preach at the 2019 SBC Pastors’ Conference this June, but withdrew in December.

Dockery to lead Missouri university’s theology evaluation
A Southern Baptist university in Missouri will undergo an evaluation to ensure its “theological integrity is intact,” The Christian Post reported Jan. 11. Students at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar have protested the dismissal of Professor Clint Bass, who was fired after expressing concern over some faculty members’ theological views. SBU told The Christian Post it had intended to have conversations on theology in fall of 2019, but Bass’s dismissal and the public fallout moved up the timeline.

The theology review at the university, which is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, will be led by David Dockery, president of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill.

Hurricane relief continues in new year
Disaster Relief efforts in Florida and North Carolina are ongoing, Baptist Press reported Jan. 8, in response to 2018’s Hurricanes Michael and Florence. Teams are continuing to serve in affected areas, and plans are underway for college students to join the response during spring break. More information is available at SendRelief.org/GenSend.

Barna releases new insights on pastors and their work
Almost three-fourths of pastors feel content with their role, Barna reports, but more than half had another career before going into ministry. And a quarter another job in addition to their work as a pastor.

Teams wrap up work

Lisa Misner —  December 13, 2018

In states hit by hurricanes

IBDR logo

Just before tornados swept across central Illinois, Disaster Relief volunteers from the state completed a long season of hurricane relief in Florida and North Carolina. Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief (IBDR) volunteers put thousands of miles on the road traveling south and east in the wake of Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

“Illinois saw key partnerships develop during the hurricane season this year,” said IBDR State Coordinator Dwayne Doyle. “We partnered with Missouri in a significant way as we responded together in locations in both North Carolina and Florida. We served with Kentucky Baptists on one of their kitchens in North Carolina. We also served North Carolina Baptists for over two months in Lumberton.”

“We sent 12 or more teams to both North Carolina and to Florida,” Doyle added. “Chaplains, tree cutters, and flood recovery teams served the Lord well. We were happy to rejoice with several who found hope in Jesus as they were served by Southern Baptists.”

Doyle said it was also a significant year for the state’s mass feeding teams. “We were able to mobilize mass feeding teams to both states as well. This is the first time in several years that we participated in mass feeding of survivors.”

Prior to the Dec. 1 Taylorville tornado, IBSA volunteers had worked 16,817 hours responding to the hurricanes, and to flooding in Illinois and Iowa. They recorded 769 gospel presentations, distributed 1,341 gospel tracts and 937 Bibles, and witnessed 15 people accept Christ as Savior.

An IBDR team from the Heartland Baptist Network was the last Illinois team to serve in Lumberton, N.C., completing chainsaw work in early November before work transitioned to the recovery phase. In late November, teams from the Winthrop Harbor area, Heartland Network, and Kaskaskia, Salem South, and Williamson Associations wrapped up IBDR work in Bristol, Fla., for 2018.

Known for the yellow shirts they wear, the Illinois volunteers were joined for the first time by “green shirt” volunteers. Sarah Maddison, granddaughter of IBDR volunteers Don and Jan Kragness, and Andrew Cairel, son of Pastor Derrick and Angie Cairel of Liberty Baptist in Harrisburg, joined recovery teams in Florida in November. The high schoolers completed the required seven hours of training including DR 101.

For more information about Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief, go to IBSA.org/dr.

– Lisa Misner

Service begins at home

Lisa Misner —  December 10, 2018

26 tornadoes damage 500+ structures

By Meredith Flynn and Andrew Woodrow

DR group Taylorville

After a Dec. 1 tornado in Taylorville, Disaster Relief teams ministered to homeowners like Mark Sockel (center above), who put his faith in Christ after volunteers shared the gospel with him.

Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief (IBDR) volunteers were in Taylorville the morning after an EF-3 tornado damaged hundreds of structures in the town 30 miles southeast of Springfield. The Dec. 1 storms, rare this late in the year, spawned a record-high number of tornadoes in December—at least 26—and affected several central Illinois communities. The most severe damage was in Christian County, where more than 20 people were injured.

Disaster Relief teams mobilized to Taylorville Sunday, with assessors working to evaluate needs and one chainsaw team already working to remove limbs felled by the storm. Volunteers quickly set up an Incident Command Center at the Christian County Fairgrounds, and teams moved into First Baptist Church, Edinburgh.

Three days after the tornado, the Disaster Relief response continued, with around 35 volunteers serving each day and chaplains ministering to homeowners. One Taylorville resident, Mark Sockel, heard the gospel from Disaster Relief chaplain James Bathon, and responded by putting his faith in Jesus.

He had heard people say they’d been saved, Sockel said, but “I didn’t exactly know what that meant until today.” The Lord was calling him, he said, “and I just picked up the phone today.”

Jan Kragness also serves as a Disaster Relief chaplain. “When we’re here doing Disaster Relief, we want to help you physically,” she said in Taylorville. “But we’ve not done our job if we have not also done something to help you spiritually.”

After Sockel made his decision to trust Christ, the team talked to him about church, Kragness said, telling him “the name above the door of the church is not as important as what’s going on inside it.”

“But he did tell us he thinks he wants to look for a Southern Baptist church because he’d like to do Disaster Relief,” she said.

Teams serving in Taylorville have completed 35 jobs so far. Volunteers are cutting limbs, removing debris, and putting tarps on roofs. For more information about the response in Taylorville, e-mail RespondIBDR@gmail.com. To donate to Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief, go to IBSA.org/dr.

The Briefing

Disaster Relief ramps up as Florence floodwater rises
As Hurricane Florence crashed ashore in North Carolina, rising floodwaters have cut off the supply chains of some Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts. Still, Southern Baptists have begun relief ministries and the Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief itself has 1,700 volunteers on standby who are specially trained to provide relief during times like these. As of Sept. 17, the storm dumped more than 30 inches of rain in some regions, resulting it at least 23 deaths and is moving northeast into Virginia.

Platt to step down from IMB; Meador named interim
IMB president, Dr. David Platt’s resignation is to be effective at the Sept. 27, 2018, trustee meeting. As such, the Executive Committee of the board of trustees of the International Mission Board voted in a special meeting Sept. 13 to approve Dr. Clyde Meador as interim president starting Sept. 27, subject to full board approval. Platt has served as president of the IMB since Aug. 27, 2014.

China: Bibles burning, churches closing
China’s government is ratcheting up a crackdown on Christian congregations in Beijing. In several provinces crosses have been destroyed, Bibles burned, churches shut down and followers ordered to sign papers renouncing their faith. The campaign corresponds with a drive to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party and eliminating any challenge to its power over people’s lives. 

NYC to issue 3rd gender on birth certificates
New York City is the most recent city to allow a third gender option on birth certificates for persons who do not identify as male or female. The third gender marker on birth certificates will become effective Jan. 1, 2019 and will be classified as gender X. The new policy will no longer require persons who identify as such to provide a note from a doctor or a health care provider’s affidavit in order to make such a change. 

CO schools end sex ed program exposing porn
A Colorado school district has agreed to discontinue using products in their sex education program from a company parents say exposed their children to porn images. For two years, the Thomas More Society has assisted concerned parents in an effort to stop the Cherry Creek School District from using these products which were used by children in 55,000 elementary schools, middle schools and high schools across the United States.

Sources: Baptist Press, Illinois Baptist, News Channel 20, Religion News, Christian Post (2)