Archives For tornado

The BriefingTrump relying on God now more than ever
President Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network becoming President of the United States has made him rely on God more than ever. “I would say that the office is so powerful that you need God even more,” Trump told The Brody File. “There’s almost not a decision that you make when you’re sitting in this position that isn’t a really life-altering position. So, God comes in even more so.”

Trump to announce Supreme Court pick Jan. 31
Setting up a high-stakes legal and political battle, President Trump said Monday he will announce his Supreme Court choice in a prime-time address Tuesday night, two days earlier than initially scheduled. He did not disclose the identity of his nominee, but told reporters that his pick is “unbelievably highly respected” and people will be “very impressed” by the selection.

ERLC deploys online effort for PPFA defunding
The ERLC announced an online advertising campaign to rally support for the congressional drive to cut federal dollars for Planned Parenthood, the country’s No. 1 abortion provider. The effort is the first of its kind by the ERLC and includes a digital petition that makes it possible for the commission to deliver the list of signers to congressional leaders.

Tornado damages William Carey University
An EF3 tornado that ripped through southern Mississippi Jan. 21 in the wee hours of the morning damaged nearly all the 30 buildings on William Carey University’s Hattiesburg campus and left seven students injured. William Carey is affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and has campuses in Hattiesburg and Biloxi.

Super Bowl won’t stop church services
For churches that have Sunday night activities, most pastors say it’s still “game on” despite the big game next weekend. According to a new study from LifeWay Research, 68% of Protestant pastors say their church typically has some activity on Sunday night. And among those pastors, almost 6 in 10 (59%) say they will continue as normal on the night of the Super Bowl.

 Sources: CBN, USA Today, Baptist Press, Facts & Trends, Baptist Press (2)

From video posted on Pastor Joshua Monda's Facebook page

From video posted on Pastor Joshua Monda’s Facebook page

UPDATE: WLS-TV in Chicago is reporting officials have confirmed six storm-related deaths: one in Washington, three in Massac County in extreme southern Illinois, and two in Washington County, located 50 miles southeast of St. Louis. The post below originally attributed the two fatalities in Washington County to Washington, Ill.

BREAKING NEWS | Tornadoes touched down Sunday in several central Illinois communities, including an especially destructive storm in Washington, 11 miles east of Peoria.

Joshua Monda, pastor of First Baptist Church in Washington, was meeting with his church for Sunday morning services when the tornado touched down. After the storm, Monda posted updates on his Facebook page. “Church, we have to come together to care for our community and our church people,” he wrote. He also posted video of the destruction near his church; at this time, there is no known damage to the church building.

Storms also damaged parts of East Peoria, Pekin, and Roanoke, as well as other communities in the Peoria area. Brookport, Ill., on the Illinois/Kentucky border, also experienced a destructive tornado Sunday. First Baptist Church there is serving as a triage center for those injured in the storm, reports The Paducah Sun newspaper.

Illinois Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers are on alert for response this week, and leaders are currently assessing the damage. Pray for the communities affected by storms, for pastors and churches ministering to their neighbors, and for volunteers who will serve this week.

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Over the weekend, First Baptist Church in Moore, Okla., hosted a memorial service for victims of the May 20 tornado that destroyed parts of the Oklahoma City suburb. Click here to watch a video of the Daily Oklahoman’s coverage of the service.

Pastor Kevin Clarkson’s church is serving as a hub for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief work in the area. The pastor also presided over the funerals of two children killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School. In an interview last week with Clarkson TheBlaze website, he answered a question about what he will say to people who have lost so much:

“I’m going to tell them that, number one, God loves them and God understands. He’s not punishing them. Jesus really came and put away the wrath of God on the cross. But God is with them in their suffering.

“And I’m going to tell them that we’re with them and that that’s what the people of God are for, the church. We’re going to help one another, and we’re going to give to the needs.”

Donations to the Disaster Relief efforts in Oklahoma can be made at

Other news:

SBC leader: Boy Scouts vote ushers in ‘sea-change’(From Baptist Press) Southern Baptist leaders have been vocal in their opposition to Boy Scouts of America’s proposal to include gay-identifying youth in their membership. After delegates to the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America approved the measure last week, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page told Baptist Press he was “deeply saddened” by the move.

Page said the vote “ushers in a sea-change in the credibility of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable boys’ organization for millions of Americans who believe strongly in the principles of biblical morality. To claim that the Boys Scouts is the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training suddenly rings hollow.”

SBC President Fred Luter echoed those sentiments, calling it “a sad day in the history of an organization that for years stood on Christian principles, particularly for the thousands of Southern Baptists who grew up as Boy Scouts like myself.”

“My prayers,” Luter said, “go out to the parents and churches who have been forced to make decisions about being a part of the Boy Scouts organization. As Southern Baptists, our commitment to the Word of God and Christian values must take priority over what is ‘politically correct.'” Read more at

59% of Americans say homosexuality is morally acceptable
A record-high percentage of Americans believe homosexuality is morally acceptable, according to Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey. The research found 59% of adults say “gay or lesbian relations” are morally acceptable, up from 40% in 2001. Read more at

For some African American reps, same-sex marriage vote is tied closely to religion
The Chicago Sun-Times published an in-depth article this month about how African American members of the Illinois House plan to vote on the pending same-sex marriage leglisation. The paper’s count of the 20-member Illinois House Black Caucus found four yeses, five no’s, five who are leaning toward yes, and seven undecided. The article also details that for some representatives, churches’ involvement in the issue could sway their vote.

“I’m a Christian before I’m a black woman before I’m a Democrat,” said Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), one of the undecided representatives. “Before all of that, I’m a Christian.

“I have to live with what I do or don’t do. And so it’s a vote I have to take that I can be comfortable with the rest of my life. This is history.”

Read the full story at

Teddy bears will find their way to children who survived the EF5 tornado that devastated part of Moore, Okla., May 20.  Photo by John Swain, North American Mission Board

Teddy bears will find their way to children who survived the EF5 tornado that devastated part of Moore, Okla., May 20.
Photo by John Swain, North American Mission Board

NEWS | Joe Conway, North American Mission Board

Within hours of the deadly EF5 tornado striking Moore, Okla., Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chaplains were ministering to families at both elementary schools destroyed by the storm. Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Disaster Relief Director Sam Porter said response needs will continue for weeks.

“Paul Bettis is leading our chaplain team,” said Porter. “They were on the ground at the schools with the families as they were searching for their children. Paul was involved in several official notification visits, as well.”

Porter said security in the affected area remains tight, but feeding and laundry units are already serving. As of lunch on Wednesday, Oklahoma SBDR volunteers had already prepared more than 9,100 meals and made 269 ministry contacts. Oklahoma SBDR has 105 volunteers engaged.

“We will need clean up assistance for four to five weeks at a minimum,” said Porter. “Because of the nature of the storms there will not be a lot of chainsaw work, but the debris clean up will be big.”

Fritz Wilson, executive director for Disaster Relief at the North American Mission Board said a multi-state response is expected in support of Oklahoma SBDR efforts. Wilson said he expects to see crews working in the affected areas this weekend.

“Our prayers are certainly with the people of Moore, and all of the affected areas,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell. “Oklahoma Baptists have one of the best disaster relief teams in North America.”

Wilson asked Southern Baptists to continue to pray for survivors and volunteers, and to give to the efforts to help sustain the ministry. He also asked Southern Baptists to remember the SBDR volunteers and the survivors they are serving in other parts of Oklahoma, in Texas and in Missouri, all as a result of the two days of storms, May 19 and 20.

“The prayers, support and concern of Southern Baptists has been overwhelming,” said Porter. “Don’t stop praying.”

To donate to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief efforts in Oklahoma, go to

Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.

Tuesday_BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

People filled the gym bleachers at Harrisburg High School Sunday evening, March 3, to honor eight victims of last year’s devastating tornado. WSIL-TV’s news cameras were there to capture the images: Local church leaders prayed and led in worship, and attenders sang “Bless the Lord, O My Soul,” a song that speaks of “10,000 reasons” to praise God.

Earlier that day, Pastor Chris Winkleman began his sermon at First Baptist, Harrisburg, with a few words about the storm. After his congregation sang “It is Well with My Soul,” Winkleman said, “I remember a year ago, we sang that song. I talked to you then about how it being well with your soul is really all that matters.”

Winkleman’s church lost one member – 22-year-old Jaylynn Ferrell – during the storm. Her mother Patty shared Jaylynn’s story during the service at Harrisburg High School. Two other members of IBSA churches, Lynda Hull of FBC Raleigh and Mary Osman of Walnut Grove Baptist, also were killed during the tornado.

“It might not be well with your home, it might not be well with your body, but I hope it’s well with your soul,” Winkleman told his church Sunday morning. “And that doesn’t change a year after a story, does it? That’s still our desire, isn’t it?

“For the folks in this room, for the folks in this town, for the folks in this world, that it would be well in their souls. …Only Jesus makes it well with our souls.”

-With information from WSIL-TV Harrisburg and the website of FBC Harrisburg

Other news

Attorney: Church bylaws should define marriage
The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to take up same-sex marriage and potentially legalize it this summer. In advance of that decision, churches should examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possibly litigation, said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom. “I think we’re in a day where every church needs to have a statement in its bylaws of its doctrinal beliefs on marriage and sexuality,” Stanley told Baptist Press. Read more at

Barna studies young Catholics
According to a new study, the Catholic church is facing the same struggle – keep young people in church – that has recently plagued Protestant denominations. A Barna study of 18- 29-year-olds with Catholic backgrounds found 56% report dropping out of church after attending regularly at one point. Among young Protestants, the dropout rate is slightly higher at 61%, Barna reports. But fewer Protestants (58%) report they’re less religiously active than they were at 15, compared to 65% of Catholic-raised young adults. Read more at


Hillsong’s ‘Zion’ album tops iTunes bestsellers
The newest worship album from Australia’s Hillsong United rose to #1 on iTunes’ top 10 list on the day of its release, Feb. 26. The album’s content is glaringly different than some of the material surrounding it on the list. A sample lyric from “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”: “Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide.” Go to to listen to songs from Zion.