Archives For racial reconciliation

Broadview | Whatever happens in the general election, preach the Word—and stick to the Word—speakers at the 2016 IBSA Pastors’ Conference exhorted their audience. The first day of the meeting at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in metro Chicago coincided with the concluding games of the World Series, so several of the speakers got in on the Cubs banter, but ultimately the stuck to the Word.

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David Sutton

“We think about what’s going on in our world today,” said pastor David Sutton of Bread of Life Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, who also served as president and organizer of the event. “So much grief,” he said, referring to a record number of shootings in the city the previous weekend. “When I think about this being an election year, it seems to further exacerbate things—there are so many things we can allow to divide us—even where we live, if we live in a rural town or a large community.”

The theme for the conference is “Crossroads, our pathway to reconciliation,” building on the “Cross Culture” theme of the IBSA Annual Meeting which will follow the pastors’ gathering.

“I believe God has called us together for such a time as this, even as we stand together in such a divided time,” Sutton said, pointing out the dichotomies of Illinois’ geography and population. “We come from so many different groups and backgrounds, [but] even in our differences we can come together…. I heard one preacher say we may not agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean we can’t walk together hand-in-hand.”

The featured preachers built on that theme, repeatedly igniting the crowd of pastors from Northern and Southern Illinois, black and white and Hispanic and Asian, in cheers and applause.

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Fred Luter

“If God can change you and me, the same God can change their lives,” said Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, speaking of lost people, particularly those engaged in drugs, gang activity, and a litany of sinful lifestyles he enumerated.

“In your B.C. days, in other words, in your ‘before Christ’ days, what did it take to change you? Before you stopped drinking, before you stopped shacking up, before you stopped using the N-word, before you stopped going to casinos and playing the lottery (I hoped you stopped!)… you heard the gospel! You heard the gospel of Jesus Christ! You were transformed by the power of the gospel…. The same gospel can change our city and can change those knuckleheads in our streets!”

Luter, who served as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, urged the crowd: “Come on preachers, let’s preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! Come on teachers, let’s teach the gospel of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah, Jesus saves!”

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Scott Nichols

Illinois pastor Scott Nichols of Crossroads Community Church in Carol Stream, said “reconciliation is painful, hard work” but it’s our calling for “those in the grip of sin…because God’s done reconciliation in my life. Our purpose is not growing our church. The purpose is making us like Christ. The purpose is winning the world to Christ,” Nichols said.

Politics was overshadowed by Gospel in the preaching and in the breakout sessions. “Leave the political stuff alone, that is only going to divide,” said Ron Gray, pastor of The Connection Church in Chicago, in a breakout session.

“With all this is going on around us, someone should be asking ‘Is God trying to tell us something?” said H. B. Charles, Jr., a skilled expositor and pulpiteer from Jacksonville, Florida.

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HB Charles, Jr

“God speaks by his actions, but God also speaks by in his inactions.” There is the wrath that is due man’s rebellion, “and there is the wrath of abandonment” for those who persist in the sins listed in Romans 1, as God turns them over to the outcomes of their sins.

As several speakers said, whatever the outcome of the election on November 8, the next day God will still be on the throne and in charge. “I was tempted to label this sermon the unelected and unimpeachable king!” Charles said. “His almighty Son has already been appointed King, and he is not up for re-election.”

“Thank you, Lord!” came the reply from the pews.

Come to Chicago

ib2newseditor —  October 3, 2016

Annual Meeting to focus on reaching across cultures—and opportunities in Illinois

am_2016_logoWhen the lawyer—trying to get out of his moral obligation—said, “Who is my neighbor?”, Jesus’ response produced an even greater responsibility: be willing to cross cultures in order to help another.

The requirements of love in the story he told of the good Samaritan might seem excessive if Jesus himself had not already fulfilled them. The priest in the parable refused to cross the road to aid a dying man, yet Jesus chose to cross the border into forbidden territory to help an immoral woman.

For a faithful Jewish man, this was not one, but three violations of custom and law.

“Now he had to go through Samaria,” the apostle John records (John 4:4). Had to? In what way?

Good Jews avoided Samaria. They took the long way around on a trip from Judea to Galilee just to avoid their despised half-cousins the Samaritans. But Jesus felt some compulsion to travel through the forbidden region. It was there in the town of Sychar that Jesus met and spoke to the woman who was rejected by the rest of the town because of her bad behavior. First he asked her for a drink of water, then he offered her living water.

What compelled Jesus to go through Samaria?

The easy answer is love, but love is not always easy.

It’s not just ethnicity
The IBSA Annual Meeting in November will focus on cross-cultural ministry. Sharing the gospel across cultures to people of all languages, ethnicities, nationalities, and people groups is our high calling. But no one ever said it would be easy.

What better place to do this work of reconciliation than Illinois?

We live in a multi-cultural world. As the missiologists often tell us, the world is at our doorstep. Every race, religion, and people group is represented in America—and most of them, too, in Illinois. From the first beep of Telstar and the first flickering satellite images from another hemisphere, the world in our lifetimes has become a relatively small place. Figuratively speaking, and often literally, we live elbow to elbow with people very different from ourselves. The melting pot of America has become a stew bowl of people and beliefs, not mixing so much as existing side by side, sometimes peaceably, sometimes not.

If 2016 has taught us anything it is that bringing cultures together is complicated.

Misunderstanding is probable, real understanding is not. (Watch any newscast for examples.) But the Bible has taught us that bringing cultures together—in Christ—is the goal.

“There is neither Jew not Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). And Jesus himself accomplished this, “who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).

What better place to do this work of reconciliation than Illinois?

With 13 million residents and at least 8 million of them without a faith relationship with Jesus Christ, the call to be reconcilers and gospel ambassadors rings loud. But it is often drowned out by clashes of race and place, divergent views on social justice, and the widening economic divide. Add growing political arguments in an atmosphere of distrust, and we might say the task of spiritual reconciliation is as challenging in the 21st century as it was in the first. The main difference between then and now, between Samaritans and Illinoisans, is sheer volume.

Which was a neighbor to the man in need? “The one who had mercy on him.”

In Illinois our cultural divides are not only ethnic. There is the upstate-downstate dichotomy, Chicago versus everything south of I-80, Northside versus Southside, city verses suburbs, the political tug-of-war between red and blue, between Springfield and the rest of the state. And if we Christians aren’t careful, the prevailing social and political prejudices spill over into our attitudes—and even into our churches.

And one more observation: crossing cultures is not only reaching across barriers to other ethnicities and language groups. It’s also reaching out to people who hold different views on sexual and moral issues, those in lifestyles that Christ-followers believe are unbiblical. It means reaching across the back fence to neighbors who look and sound a lot like us, but whose lost condition characterizes their whole lives. For people who live in a Christian culture and try to behave in Christly ways, embracing anyone outside the church is a cross-cultural experience.

But that is our calling.

9-12-16-ib-facesWelcome to Samaria
When Jesus was telling the lawyer about eternal life, how a changed life produces love for one’s neighbors, he chose to make a Samaritan the hero of the story. “Samaritan” was virtually a curse word when it described the woman at the well. “Samaritan woman” was doubly offensive. The disciples were stunned to find Jesus talking to such an outcast, but none dared confront him on it.

Neither did anyone object when Jesus said it was a Samaritan that helped a Jewish man who had been robbed and beaten and left half dead. But they were surely surprised that the Samaritan was commended for his actions rather than the priest and the Levite who crossed the road to avoid the bloody, unclean wretch, and thereby kept the law. The invective “Samaritan” was redeemed and the merciful man made a model. The Good Samaritan.

What compelled the Samaritan to help a hurting man, likely an enemy of his people, a Jew? Love is the ready response, but Jesus pointed to mercy: that holy mixture of God’s grace motivated by unfailing love, extended to mankind.

Which was a neighbor to the man in need? “The one who had mercy on him.”

The 2016 Annual Meeting in suburban Chicago offers opportunity to see Illinois—our great mission field—with fresh eyes. This vast state with its world-class cities and fruitful, abundant plains calls for multiple approaches to ministry. One size doesn’t fit all our mission fields, but one calling does: Go.

– Eric Reed is editor of the Illinois Baptist

 

 

 

Bringing down walls

ib2newseditor —  September 26, 2016

Four pastors discuss what it means to be ‘one in Christ’ today

Jesus issues a clear directive in Acts 1:8 to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. His command seems simple enough: Go and tell everyone about me. But when the ends of the earth move in next door, differences in language, religion, customs, and culture can quickly build walls between people who have the gospel and people who need to hear it.

The 2016 IBSA Annual Meeting will explore issues surrounding cross-cultural ministry, including real-life stories of pastors and churches who have sacrificed their own cultural comfort for the sake of the gospel.

The Illinois Baptist sat down with four such leaders for a special roundtable discussion about the cultural idols we all have, why the church seems to be last to change, and how to be a good neighbor. The following interview was edited for space.

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Around the table: (left to right)
– Kevin Carrothers, pastor of Rochester First Baptist Church and president of IBSA
– Marvin Del Rios, pastor of Iglesia Bautista Erie in Chicago and a leader in the movement to reach second- and third-generation Hispanic peoples
– John Yi, IBSA’s second-generation church planting catalyst in Chicago, founder of a community ministry in Maywood, and a leader  at Bethel SBC, a church plant in Mt. Prospect
– Adron Robinson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Country Club Hills and vice president of IBSA

Illinois Baptist: Let’s start by defining the big topic. When we talk about ministering cross-culturally for the sake of the gospel, what does that mean to you?

Adron Robinson: In Ephesians 2, when Paul says that we are all one body of Christ, he is telling believers that we are all one new culture, and it is about tearing down our cultural idols in order to be that body of Christ.
We all have inherent cultural idols. We all come from culture and we all come with that assumption that the way we grew up is the way everybody should grow up. The gospel shows us that there is a new normal.

Marvin Del Rios: I go to the book of Acts, chapter 6, what we see between the Hellenistic Jews and the Hebrews. That is something we are living within the Hispanic and Latino churches right now. Unfortunately, the first generation can get stuck in a certain way of preaching, a certain way of leading worship, a certain way of doing church. What is happening is that there is an exodus of the second and third generations from the church. My thing with cross-cultural ministry is that even though I am called to go and preach to the nations, I have a burning desire to go and reach my second- and third-generation Latino culture.

IB: Do you as pastors feel the pressure to lead in that way, to help your churches to move beyond those inherent cultural biases?

Kevin Carrothers: I will certainly agree that that is our responsibility. I was talking to Pastor Adron earlier about Jeremiah 29 and how God spoke through Jeremiah about the exile. The verse that sticks out in my mind is Jeremiah 29:7. It says, “Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to; pray to the Lord on its behalf for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.”

Sometimes we feel like we are living in exile wherever we are. But we are called to wherever we are. God has planted us there, and we need to have transformational ministry in our communities. That does mean crossing all kinds of cultural divides.

Robinson: The other side of that, of God telling them to seek the welfare of the city, is them overcoming their nationalism.

Carrothers: That’s right.

Robinson: For them, Jerusalem was the pinnacle. God says, “Well, now you are in Babylon and you are to make Babylon a better place. You have been planted there sovereignly for a purpose.” Part of that is laying down our love for our old culture and doing what God has called us to do in a new context.

IB: We know that communities change over the years—your churches have experienced those shifting demographics in their neighborhoods. How does community change affect a church’s ability to reach across cultures?

Robinson: Hillcrest started as an Anglo church in an Anglo community. As the community transitioned to a more blended community, the church is always the last thing to change. The community was predominately African-American and the church was still predominately Anglo. They become known in the community as “that” church, not “our” church.

When they called me as pastor, the first thing we started to do is to try to reach our neighbors. Our first priority was to get out and meet the community and build relationships so that we could have conversations about faith going forward. We connected with a high school across the street. We connected with City Hall. We started to look for ways to be incarnational. How can we take the gospel out to other places?

IB: You mentioned the church is always the last thing to change. Do you think that’s true of most churches?

Robinson: Yes, I think that’s most churches. I think we downplay how big of an idol comfort really is to us. As communities transition, churches can easily fall into the “us versus them” mentality. This is our church, we have always been here. Yeah, but the purpose of the church is to reach the community with the gospel. So if the neighborhood changes, you have new neighbors to reach.

Del Rios: We don’t change fast enough and then when we do decide to change, we are already five to ten years behind. Then we are doing the catch-up game, and I think that’s where we as leaders get tired. We feel like we are in the hamster wheel running around doing nothing.

Yi: I think the big secret that we need to bring out into the open is that every church is “that” church, it’s just a matter of which “that” you are going to be. I still remember when you talked about a church, it was, “That’s the Catholic church, that’s the Baptist church, that’s a Methodist church.” But it’s not like that anymore. I think that churches can be more proactive about helping the community define what they are.

Working around church planters, one of the things we see is leaders being very proactive about what they want their church to be known as, what their niche is. Of course, in churches, we are not supposed to be public relations people, but I think we do have to be concerned, not just with what do the people outside the church think of us, but also what do our own members think of us. What kind of church are we? I think there is a lot we can do to help shape that. We do not have millions of dollars to create that public image, but we do have a currency and that’s the way we do our ministry. The way we engage our neighbors.

Robinson: I think John touched on something important: Every church is going to be that something. People are going to say that’s the church that does this or that church does that. You need to get out front in defining what your church is going to be known for. John 13:35 comes to mind. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Carrothers: Probably where our church has struggled the most is that we have to give away without expecting anything in return. We have done a fall festival for nine years, but it hasn’t brought a single member into the church. People have asked me why we keep doing this if we are not seeing people come into the church. My response is, if you can come up with something else where we can speak into 300-500 people’s lives in our community, then I’m all ears. Well, nobody has taken me up on that yet because we are speaking to 80 people on Sunday morning.

IB: Is expecting something in return one of those cultural idols we talked about?

Robinson: The corporate model, which is an idol from the world. One of the budget shifts Hillcrest made as far as reaching the community was to stop doing events for how much we can get back. We are doing whatever it is to extend the gospel to our community, which means that we are going to have to spend some money and sacrifice in order to reach our neighbors with the love of Christ. It’s not all going to come right back. You’re not going to have an event today and 50 new neighbors come in next week.

Yi: If you can get your congregation to think that way, that the church really is a non-profit organization, that we are not doing ministry for profit, that’s a success too. Just getting that shift in thinking.

Robinson: Getting the membership to embrace discipleship.

Carrothers: Absolutely. That’s a kingdom value.

Del Rios: We established a Halloween outreach at the church three years ago. We open the doors and the kids come in with their families. We have a little table for kids’ activities, something very simple, and they get candy and they can leave. Then, as they are leaving, the parents are there and we have adults there to have simple conversations. Some lead to gospel conversations.

Now, how many have joined the church out of the last three or four years during that process? None. But this Saturday there was a block party in our neighborhood and I went to visit and just talk to a couple of folks I know. The people I talked to introduced me to other folks, and the other folks said, “You’re the church with the Halloween stuff going on. You’re the church that gave us hot chocolate and that Spanish coffee that was delicious.” Yes, we are the church. Are they coming in? They are not, but they associate us with the church on Halloween that had the great Spanish coffee and they came in and they listened to a gospel conversation. Not a Bible-banging conversation, but a gospel conversation.

Carrothers: Isn’t it interesting that one of the things Paul talks about in Romans 12 is hospitality?

Del Rios: Yes.

Carrothers: Isn’t the heart of hospitality giving away without expecting anything in return?

Robinson: In Acts 2, we see the church breaking bread together going house to house. It’s relationships when you read the Gospels. Jesus shares his life with 12 people. He teaches them by example what it looks like to have a relationship with God and they go out and spread the gospel with more people. They are living together, eating together, hanging out together all day long. Our churches are so “Sunday meeting, Wednesday meeting.” See you next Sunday, see you next Wednesday. We started to incorporate intentional hospitality to the life of the church.

Watch for Part 2 on this blog Thursday, September 29, 2016

– Meredith Flynn, editorial contributor

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.

DallasThe Briefing Chief Brown relies on his faith
In the wake of the July 7 ambush that killed five Dallas police officers and throughout his life, Police Chief David Brown believes in bedrock Christian doctrine — faithful submission to God’s plan followed by an eternal reward. He sees his job as a “divine assignment” and brings a Biblical perspective to all his decision-making, said his pastor, the Rev. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.

Iowa claims it won’t muzzle pastors
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission, in a “clarification,” says it will not muzzle churches that teach on matters of biblical sexuality, nor force them to open single-sex restrooms to members of the opposite sex. The commission said it has revised its brochure on “Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity” to state that churches generally are exempt from certain provisions of the state’s civil rights law.

Is Trump the end of the Religious Right?
The evangelical divide over Trump has been widening for months, but it was only in recent weeks that the pro- and anti-Trump camps definitively split, with an increasing number of conservative evangelicals coming out forcefully against the candidate. The breaking point came on June 21, when Trump—ironically in an effort to appease the religious right—met with nearly a thousand evangelical leaders and announced a 25-person “evangelical advisory board” to help him reach conservative Christian voters.

Perry Noble fired
NewSpring Church, a multi-campus megachurch based in Anderson, S.C., announced Sunday that the church’s board of directors and pastor advisory team fired Senior Pastor Perry Noble for alcoholism, marital problems, and other “unfortunate” choices. Noble served as pastor of the Southern Baptist Convention–affiliated church since its founding in 2000.

Bill Nye tours Ark Encounter
When evolutionist Bill Nye “the science guy” visited a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark in northern Kentucky, he wanted to learn how children were reacting to what he has called a danger to science education. By the time he left the Ark Encounter theme park, he had also learned the story of Christ’s atoning death on the cross for humanity’s sins, Ark Encounter’s chief executive Ken Ham said, underscoring the park’s value as an evangelistic tool.

Sources: Dallas Morning News, Daily Signal, Politico, World Magazine, Baptist Press

Race panel

Resolution urges no more use of Confederate battle flag

The Southern Baptist Convention rejected use of an iconic Southern emblem, the Confederate battle flag still commonly seen in the South, because it is for many representative of slavery and ongoing racism against African Americans. The resolution states: “We call our brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.”

Its passage by a considerable majority was met with enthusiastic applause.

The vote came after an impassioned plea by Georgia pastor and former SBC President James Merritt, himself the descendant of two Confederate war veterans.

“Make no mistake, this is a seminal moment in our convention,” said Merritt. “I believe God has brought the SBC to both the kingdom and our culture for such a time as this. What we do today with this issue will reverberate in this nation, not just today, but I believe a hundred years from now. This is not a matter of political correctness, it is a matter of spiritual conviction and biblical compassion.”

Merritt proposed an amendment which strengthened the resolution, and removed a phrase some had used about “honor(ing) their loved one’s valor.” He substituted language to “discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters.”

The amendment passed. While not all messengers who spoke supported the resolution, the will of the Convention was clear: Southern Baptists have broken with the racism of their past. After statements in 1995 and the election of an African American president in 2013, some expressed hope the sins of the past are repudiated as well as the flag.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd chose the St. Louis convention, just a few miles from Ferguson, Missouri, as the place to discuss racial reconciliation. Convention week began with outreach ministry in Ferguson, site of riots in 2014 following the police shooting of a black teenager.

Floyd told convention messengers, “America is…experiencing a racial crisis. Any form of racism defies the dignity of human life. Regardless of the color of human skin, God has put his imprint on each of us…Racism is a major sin and stronghold in America.”

Floyd staged a panel discussion, a rarity in SBC business sessions, called “A National Conversation on Racial Unity in America,” with 10 leaders.

“I am absolutely, totally convinced that the problem in America can be put totally at the doorsteps of our churches,” said Jerry Young, president of a mostly African American denomination, the National Baptist Convention.

Young noted Christ told his disciples to be the salt and light of the world, and he said Christians are failing in the task. “I challenge you to know that the problem in America is a problem with the church being what God called it to be….Here’s what needs to happen in America: Somebody needs to pass the salt and turn on the lights.”

The panel discussed the killing of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last year. “That racially motivated murder hurt all of us,” said Marshall Blalock, pastor of the mostly white First Baptist Church in Charleston. “The white community for the first time began to understand.”

Blalock noted, “The killer was a terrorist, he wanted to create fear and cause hopelessness. But he went to church where there is no room for fear, or hate, or hopelessness…Only the gospel can eliminate racism.”

Kenny Petty, pastor of the Gate Church in St. Louis, said incidents such as the Charleston church shooting and police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., exposed an infection. “That wound opened up and it reeked.” Since the shooting, “there has been some healing (in Ferguson), but we’ve got a long way to go. We found out that infection didn’t just stop with the culture, it went on to the doorstep of the church.”

“What we need is the mind of Christ,” Young said. “If we want to change racism in our churches and America we’re going to have to change our attitude through Christ.”

President of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore called the convention’s action “an extraordinary moment.”

“We watched a denomination founded by slaveholders vote to repudiate the display of the Confederate battle flag in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters in Christ,” Moore said.

– Lisa Sergent

The BriefingNY Times interviews SBC President on race & reconciliation
The New York Times interviewed Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and National Baptist Convention USA President Jerry Young about their public conversation late last year on racial reconciliation in Jackson, Miss.


Evangelicals for Life Conf. bolsters ‘burden’ for unborn
The first Evangelicals for Life conference, co-sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and Focus on the Family, set out to increase participation by evangelicals in the annual March for Life on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The predominantly young audience arrived days ahead of the march (and winter storm Jonas) to select from presentations by nearly 40 evangelical pro-life leaders who taught how to extend their influence with a broader, more diverse base of support.


Terrorists kill 7 missionaries in Burkina Faso
The director of an orphanage and six others were among 28 people killed in an attack by Al Qaeda-linked militants in Burkina Faso. American Michael Riddering and his wife, Amy, had served with the missions group Sheltering Wings in the West African nation since 2011. The other six killed were Canadians on three-week mission trip. Also that day, two missionaries from Australia were kidnapped.


0.0% of Icelanders under 25 believe God created the world
Less than half of Icelanders claim they are religious and more than 40% of young Icelanders identify as atheist. Remarkably the poll failed to find young Icelanders who accept the creation story of the Bible. 93.9% of Icelanders younger than 25 believed the world was created in the big bang, 6.1% either had no opinion or thought it had come into existence through some other means and 0.0% believed it had been created by God.


Study: monthly porn exposure the norm for teens
Half of teenagers and nearly three-quarters of young adults come across pornography at least monthly, and both groups on average consider viewing pornographic images less immoral than failing to recycle. The new study by Josh McDowell Ministry and the Barna Group also found porn use is on the rise among young women and that 14 percent of senior pastors surveyed “currently struggle with using porn.”

Sources: Baptist Press, Christianity Today, Facts & Trends, Iceland Magazine