Archives For Illinois Baptist


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

By Eric Reed

5-07-18 IB cover lgAfter our last issue of the Illinois Baptist went to press, we remembered what we left out of the article, “Why this one matters.” Our collection of items to look for at the Southern Baptist Convention in June should have included the forthcoming report on evangelism in the SBC by Steve Gaines’ blue ribbon committee. The panel, which includes Illinois’ own Doug Munton, pastor of FBC O’Fallon, is scheduled to present its study on the declining rate of baptisms in SBC churches and several key proposals to turn that around.

The report, by seminary presidents, SBC entity heads, and megachurch pastors, was to be Gaines’ parting word to the convention as he concludes two years as president. It is a very important word at crucial moment in the life of our denomination. We meant to say that in our May 7 issue previewing the Dallas convention.

We didn’t.

We forgot.

Gaines’ important prescription for recapturing the SBC’s evangelistic fervor got muscled out by breaking news about abuse of women and the argument over inappropriate statements by statesman Paige Patterson two decades ago.

The same appears likely to happen again at the convention in June.

Any one of these stories could be the headline coming out of Dallas:

“SBC shifts generation and theology in top leadership vote.”

“Proceedings slowed as messengers argue diversity among nominees.”

“Messengers debate ERLC leadership and another round of resolutions repudiating racism.”

“SBC speaks on abuse, women, and their place in the denomination.”

“Patterson announces retirement, takes final lap before exiting SBC stage.” Or, “Patterson unseated as convention’s keynote; denied final sermon after controversial comments.” (A special called Board of Trustees meeting May 25 at Southwestern Seminary may determine if either of last two headlines proves true.)

But the headline will likely not be: “SBC adopts new plan for evangelism to turn decline in baptism and refocus churches on leading the lost to faith.”


Because the overwrought news cycle of the current era has overtaken the SBC too. If only we could come out of Dallas writing stories about a fresh wind of God’s Spirit and our renewed commitment to share the gospel. If only we could file reports of our people falling on their faces in repentance for failing to share salvation with lost people, then hitting the streets to tell the good news.

Yes, all these news stories are very important. As a people, we must deal faithfully with women and our treatment of them in the church as well as the larger culture. But while we are doing that, we must remember what brought us together as a denomination in the first place. The world needs Jesus. And all today’s headlines are evidence of that great need.

Eric Reed is editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

Lindsey Yoder

Photos courtesy Walk4Freedom via Facebook

“Sometimes putting one foot in front of another is a lot harder than it sounds.”

That’s especially true for 14-year-old Lindsey Yoder who is walking 15 miles a day along the dusty back roads of Illinois—from her home in Arthur to Nashville, Tennessee—in a quest to raise awareness about human trafficking. She hopes to complete the trek in four weeks.

It might be said that the journey began in Springfield in November 2015, when young Yoder attended AWSOM, the Illinois Baptist Women’s annual event for teen girls. “Human trafficking was the focus,” her mother, Regina, said, “and that fueled her interest in the issue.” When a movie about the international sale and trade of vulnerable young women was shown near her town, Lindsey knew she was ready to make a difference.

“My heart was broken at the thought of all the girls who are in this horrible situation, and I asked God specifically to tell me how I can help,” the teen said in an interview from the road with the Illinois Baptist. “Priceless” is a 2016 film about a man who realizes the young women he’s being paid to drive cross country are actually being sold into the sex trade.

About 57,000 people in the U.S. are victims of human trafficking. According to Shared Hope International, “the common age a child enters sex trafficking is 14-16, when they’re too young and naïve to realize what’s happening.” Most victims are girls, but boys are trafficked and sold to pimps as well.

Lindsey is walking to Tennessee because Nashville is the U.S. home of Hope for Justice, an organization that works internationally to stop human trafficking through its offices in Cambodia, England, and Norway. Her eventual goal is to raise enough money to support 30 rescue operations–$195,000.

Why not do a car wash or some other typical student ministry fundraiser? “Because God asked me to walk, so I’m doing it out of obedience. It wasn’t my idea. My faith was the main reason I decided to do step out and do this event that is bigger than me.”

“God has her attention,” said Carmen Halsey, director of IBSA’s Women’s Missions. “She sees the people through his eyes. Lindsey’s not just sitting in a pew. She’s put feet to the vision—literally!”

Lindsey’s biggest challenge walking so far has been the unusually early summer heat. The bugs are are a problem too, but “I’d rather have the heat than the bugs,” she said.

Lindsey Yoder 3

Awesome family project
As a homeschooling family, the Yoders lead a missional lifestyle. Last year Lindsey went to Honduras on what she called a “class field trip” with her grandfather. She has travelled to Haiti with her mother and sister to work in an orphanage. And she wants to become a teacher in India, working as a full-time missionary.

For this trip, her family is, again, all in. “My mom planned all the routes, and we took two pilot trips to make sure all the roads are safe for walking. My dad is at home working hard at his job and is super supportive of my walk. My three older brothers each drove all the way from Ohio to walk the first two miles with me. My younger siblings are along for the ride, even though they’d rather be home. They haven’t bit each other’s heads off yet.”

And the support extends to her church family. “My church has been incredibly supportive…even more than I expected,” Lindsey said of Arthur Southern Baptist Church. “My youth group sold candy bars in the Walmart parking lot to help cover expenses for lodging and gas as we travel. Our church also gave me funds to cover more of our expenses.”

Lindsey started her walk after the May 28 Sunday morning service where several in the congregation gathered to lay on hands and pray for her. When it was time to start the walk, “about 80 people joined me for the first two miles of the walk,” she said. “It was so fun to be supported and surrounded by the people in my church.”

And her request of fellow Baptists in Illinois? “I really need people praying that I can see this through to the end, for those who have no voice and need to be set free.”

Editor’s note: Lindsey’s made it to Nashville, Tennessee. She will reach the 300-mile mark and celebrate at Bicentennial Park at 2 p.m. (eastern) Saturday, June 24. Follow her on Facebook and learn how you can donate.

Church sues Chicago

ib2newseditor —  March 23, 2017

City tried to limit building use

An IBSA church has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Chicago, which is enforcing a zoning ordinance that won’t allow the church to purchase its building near the University of Illinois-Chicago campus.

“Agonizing” is how Nathan Carter, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, described the decision to either seek other meeting space or file the lawsuit. His congregation has met in its current location since 2011, and was set to close on the purchase of the building last summer, when city officials blocked the sale because they determined Immanuel had not established legal use.

70320Immanuel BC

The main issue is parking; the Chicago Zoning Ordinance requires religious assemblies to have a certain number of parking spaces based on how many people they’re able to seat. Immanuel needs 19 spaces to comply with the ordinance, but like many organizations in their neighborhood, the church utilizes street parking. Immanuel and the law firm representing them, Mauck & Baker, are arguing that the ordinance violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by requiring stricter standards of religious assemblies than for other organizations.

The space at 1443 W. Roosevelt had been rented by another church previously. Churches are a permitted use in the zoning, and the City’s building department gave Immanuel an occupancy permit in 2011. City officials assured Carter the sale wouldn’t be blocked despite the church’s use of street parking. But the City returned a different verdict in July 2016, informing Carter “the church still needed to meet the city’s parking requirements and that the city must determine if a religious assembly use is something it wants to promote on a commercial corridor such as Roosevelt Road,” according to a press release from Mauck & Baker.

The church’s ensuing lawsuit was a “last resort,” said the pastor. “We’ve been courteous and kind throughout the process and not adversarial, seeking to bend over backwards to meet their demands. We have our alderman’s support.”

Plus, Carter continued, “We have many of the same goals for the neighborhood as the City does. We’ve communicated that if they don’t fight it, then we won’t seek damages or fees. [The suit is] framed in such a way that they can admit they are bound by the letter of a current zoning ordinance, but then point out how that zoning ordinance is federally illegal (because of RLUIPA) by requiring more parking spots for religious assembly than it does for non-religious assembly uses that courts have determined are comparable.”

Carter referred to a sign on the door of his local library, which clearly states the library has no parking and patrons are to park on the street. City ordinances also state “live theater venues” with fewer than 150 seats need no parking, nor do libraries or cultural exhibits within the first 4,000 feet. Mauck & Baker is arguing Immanuel meets both of these requirements: their building seats 146 people and has less than 4,000 square feet.

Carter said the church is praying they can settle the suit within the next month, but if the City decides to continue to fight the purchase, the process could be a lengthy one.

Still, he said, the church sensed the Lord leading in this direction, albeit a somewhat frightening one. “Since 2005 our church has had a vision for being a long-term, stable gospel presence in our specific area of the city—a cluster of neighborhoods that surround the University of Illinois at Chicago,” Carter said. After meeting in four rented locations over the years and doing an exhaustive search of their community for other spaces, the purchase of their current building seems like a strategic decision.

“If the Lord closes this door, we have no doubt that he will open up another one,” Carter said. “But at the moment this was the only one that was cracked open, and there are scary lights coming from behind it, but we sensed the Lord wanted us to knock.”

-Meredith Flynn

It’s time to speak up

ib2newseditor —  August 3, 2016

Adron RobinsonThe week of July 4, 2016, was a very dark week in America. It began with my wife and me celebrating Independence Day with our family and watching the local fireworks display. But there would be a different type of fireworks in the days to come.

On July 5, a Baton Rouge police officer pinned down Alton Sterling and shot him several times while he was on the ground, killing him in front of witnesses.

The very next day in Minnesota, Philando Castile was pulled over in a routine traffic stop and shot multiple times by a police officer. Castile’s girlfriend videotaped the aftermath of the shooting and broadcast it live on Facebook for the world to see.

If those incidents weren’t enough, on July 7, at the end of a peaceful protest of these killings, an armed gunman ambushed Dallas police officers, killing five and wounding seven others.

How can the church remain silent when the sin of racism is screaming so loudly?

It truly was a dark week in America. As I sat at my desk praying about how to process these events and address these issues with my congregation, God led me to Matthew 5:13-16.

We live in a dark and decaying world, and the darker the world gets, the more it needs the church to be salt and light. Light shines brightest in darkness, and God has providentially placed the local church in the community to shine the light of the gospel to a world that desperately needs that light.

The killings of African Americans at the hands of police officers, and the denial of justice to the families of those slain, reveal the high level of personal and institutional racism in America.

The truth of the matter is that an encounter with the police is a life or death matter for many people of color in America. We pull over praying. Praying that the officer who stops us will uphold the law and not manipulate it to cover up his own racial prejudice. Praying that we will be treated the same way every other citizen of this country is treated. But most of all, we are praying that we are not killed by the very people our taxes pay to serve and protect us.

This is not the experience of my non-minority brothers and sisters. And it should not be the experience of anyone created in the image of God.

My question is, how can the church remain silent, when the sin of racism is screaming so loudly? How can we stand by as injustice continues against those we say are our brothers and sisters in Christ?

We cannot remain silent. In order for there to be change in our culture, the church must stop being silent and step up and be the church. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus calls us to be counter-cultural Christians. This means the church is called to influence our culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christians and only Christians are the salt of the earth. Christians and only Christians are the light of the world. Christians and Christians alone are responsible for stopping corruption and slowing down the decay of this world.

Notice Jesus did not say “you and the government,” “you and the police department,” or “you and the Supreme Court.” There is only one hope for this world, and that hope is in people of God preventing decay and penetrating darkness.

We need to stop making excuses, stop being divided, stop being deceived by the darkness of this culture, and begin shining the light of righteousness and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We will never overcome a hateful world unless we learn to love one another.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” If we love our neighbor as ourselves, we cannot remain silent as our neighbors are being slain in the streets. And we must address the racism in our world, even if it is in our own hearts.

In Acts 10:34, Peter says, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.”

I pray that soon and very soon, the church would do the same.

– Adron Robinson is senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills and vice president of IBSA.

Be it (still) resolved

Meredith Flynn —  January 1, 2014

Scott_Kelly_blogCOMMENTARY | Scott Kelly

At this time of year, it’s likely that someone may ask us this question: “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?” And when asked, we usually answer: “Lose weight,” or “Read the Bible more,” or something like that. Our culture’s common thinking on resolutions tends to be individualized thinking about our own personal goals. That’s normal, right?

Not if you’re an Illinois Baptist. Our family of churches makes resolutions together. We make these resolutions not as individuals, but as a gathering of Christians from hundreds of Illinois Baptist churches. And we make these large-group resolutions at a strange time, in early-to-middle November, not on January 1. These resolutions are part of our Annual Meeting every year.

My dear Illinois Baptist family, now that the New Year has come, I must gently ask: Do we even remember our resolutions from our annual meeting this past November? The messengers from our churches enthusiastically approved resolutions about marriage, religious freedom, human trafficking, and state-sponsored gambling. As we gather in our churches for our first prayer meetings of 2014, let’s remember our resolutions and keep praying about these things that we were so resolved about on those days in November.

I left our annual meeting very encouraged by what God is doing through our Great Commission work in Illinois. As I boarded the last Amtrak train out of Springfield a few hours after our last meeting session had ended, I was still affected by the last-minute resolution that one of our brothers proposed regarding repentance and evangelism.

The wording of the resolution was both convicting and inspiring – and repentant. We resolved we should “repent of our unfaithfulness to God and beg for His mercy, grace and forgiveness because at times we have all failed to faithfully and regularly share the Gospel.”

Furthermore, we said, “All members of Illinois Baptist State Association churches are encouraged to regularly pray for God to give His people the ability to speak HIS message with boldness and clarity by the power of the Holy Spirit, and regularly pray for all to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”

Illinois Baptists, let’s keep repenting and sharing the Gospel in 2014, so that we may truly grow as churches together advancing the Gospel.

And may God receive all the glory!

Scott Kelly is pastor at Evanston Baptist Church and director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Northwestern University.

Coming home

Meredith Flynn —  August 26, 2013
Kids in Haiti crowd around to see themselves in a camera’s tiny screen.

Kids in Haiti crowd around to see themselves in a camera’s tiny screen.

HEARTLAND | Meredith Flynn

Re-entering my everyday life American life after a week in Haiti, I was reminded of

something Mark Emerson said: “We’re pretty good at going away on mission. We may not do as well with coming home.”

Emerson, who leads IBSA’s missions team, said we need a how-to about coming back from a short-term mission trip. Because the emotions run so high during a week in Haiti or inner city Chicago or Bulgaria or East St. Louis, it’s inevitably an adjustment to come back to our normal houses, routines and lives.

It’s not just mission trip participants that are prone to a letdown. Any spiritual mountaintop experience is wonderful when you’re in the middle of it, but it’s hard to come back down to earth. On our last night in Haiti, our team leader Bob Elmore talked about how to come home well. He and others who had been on previous international mission trips cautioned us newbies about the challenges we might run into, and how to counteract a bumpy re-entry. Their counsel focused mostly on how we should interact with people who weren’t on the trip.

One volunteer laughingly told the team about a message she’d received from her parents, gently reminding her that they were going on family vacation the day after she returned to the States and that they would like her to be in a better frame of mind than last year – when she got back, walked into the house, and promptly burst into tears.

The lesson is that others who weren’t on your particular mountaintop may not full grasp the emotional connections you formed with a place and a people in just a week or two. We ought to be patient, speak well, and remember God gives us unique experiences so that we can magnify how great and creative He is.

When we come down from the mountaintop, we also have to be responsible in the stories we tell. It’s tempting to focus on the spider you saw, or how hot it was, or how delicious soda is when it’s made with cane sugar. Say those things – details help people remember and pray – but say them quickly. Get them out of the way so you can talk more about how God worked to transform you and your team, and how He’s at work in parts of the world you rarely or never thought about before.

Make Him the main character in your stories – after all, He’s the one who took you to the mountaintop.

Not Meredith's closet

Not Meredith’s closet

HEARTLAND | Meredith Flynn

There’s a line in “Gidget” (the movie version with Sandra Dee, not the Sally Field TV show) that I love. Moondoggie, the surfer boy Gidget pines over, finally gets fed up with her antics and spats, “Do you know what your problem is?” He doesn’t wait for an answer before telling her:

“You’re just too much!”

It’s a fun scene and a silly line (and makes me long for the day when that was the worst insult you could hurl at someone), but lately, it’s had a lot of resonance in my life. Because I, with my full garage, storage shed, and four closets, am too much. Or at least, I have too much.

And I blame Jen Hatmaker for making me realize it. You may have seen her book “7” or read a recent review of it in the Illinois Baptist. It’s a great book, and worth your time, but read with caution because I promise you, everywhere you look, you’ll see areas where you’re living in excess. Let me confess (a few of) mine to you:

  1. At any given time, there are five to seven almost-empty cereal boxes in the pantry. (Rather than eat the “gravel” at the bottom of the box, I just buy a new one.)
  2. I have never met a cardigan sweater I didn’t need.
  3. I find it much easier to spend an hour looking up recipes I will never make on Pinterest than to read my Bible for a half hour.

Book "7"If pressed, I probably would have described each of these things as bad habits. But I didn’t see them as part of a spiritual problem (except for that last one). The basic premise of “7” is that we often need to downsize our “stuff” to receive more of what God wants for us.

The book chronicles the Hatmaker family’s efforts to simplify their lives in seven areas: food, clothing, possessions, spending, media, waste and stress. While I wouldn’t have diagnosed myself as “excessive” in any of those categories, I had felt the dullness Hatmaker writes about:

  • I talk about having no free time, but squander the hours I do have.
  • Even as I accumulate “stuff,” I continue to compare myself to others who seem to have more.
  • I am often numb to the material needs of people right in front of me.

I started to realize that maybe “excess” wasn’t as extreme a word as I once thought. Maybe the warning signs were all there, in every full drawer, bursting cabinet, and hard-to-close closet. I needed, and still need, fresh eyes to see the places in my life where I am just too much.

I’m thankful for the lesson, even as I choke down this cereal gravel from the bottom of the box.

By Nate Adams, IBSA Executive Director

I can usually measure the value of a meeting by the follow-up actions I note for myself as a result of it. If I don’t write anything down, the meeting was probably pretty pointless. If the meeting moves me to action or change, it may have been worthwhile.

So let me share with you a few of my follow-up notes from the recent Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, at least as they relate to the major issues discussed at this year’s annual meeting. You can read about these issues in the July 2 of the Illinois Baptist or at

My notes about the informal name “Great Commission Baptists” as an alternative to “Southern Baptists” could be summarized simply by the phrase “wait and see.” Clearly a large number of churches feel that having an alternate name, even an optional one, is not a positive thing. But the majority that voted to endorse the alternate name gave those who wish to try it out a new tool to potentially reach people for whom the term “Southern” may be a barrier.

For now, I plan to “wait and see” how many churches embrace the new name, especially here in the Midwest. I suspect we will continue using the “Illinois Baptist” identity in our communications more than either of the others.

My notes about the various issues that have the Calvinist vs. Arminian theology debate at their root simply say, “stay above the fray.” Both outgoing President Bryant Wright and SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page served us well, I thought, when they essentially stated that the Baptist Faith and Message is big enough for both strains of theological thought, and that there is more danger in our heart attitudes about either position than in the doctrinal differences themselves.

Some time ago I came to the personal conclusion that Calvinist theology describes salvation more from God’s perspective outside time, and that Arminian theology describes salvation more from man’s perspective within time. I’m sure that those for whom that explanation is not sufficient will continue this centuries-old debate. I plan to try and stay above the fray of that argument, and pray it does not distract us from our far more important Great Commission task.

Finally, you may not think I need follow-up notes from the election of Fred Luter as the SBC’s first African American president. But I found I did. Tuesday night, just after Pastor Luter’s election, I attended a dinner with the African American Fellowship of Southern Baptists that included SBC entity executives and state executive directors like myself from all over the country.

Even during that dinner, I formed several follow up notes for myself: Don’t just sit with people you know – get to know some new African American brothers and sisters. Learn to understand and appreciate the history and the pain, the culture and the passions of African American churches and their leaders, especially those that have chosen to be part of the Southern Baptist family. Relax and enjoy different worship and preaching styles – God wants to speak to you through those too! Recognize how important it is to make sure African American leaders are participating in Southern Baptist life, both in key discussions and in key leadership positions. Develop more personal, not just professional, relationships with African American pastors and leaders.

As I said, I can measure the value of a meeting by the follow-up actions I note for myself. If the meeting truly moves me to action or change, it may have been worthwhile. My follow through on these notes has the potential to make this year’s SBC meeting truly worthwhile. I hope these notes for needed future action help you too.