News from the Baptist Press

Formed in 1946 by the Southern Baptist Convention, and supported with Cooperative Program funds, Baptist Press (BP) is a daily (M-F) international news wire service. Operating from a central bureau in Nashville, Tenn., BP works with four partnering bureaus (Richmond, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Washington, D.C.), as well as with a large network of contributing writers, photographers and editorial providers, to produce BP News.

Click on the title to view the full article at the Baptist Press website.


Friday, October 23, 2020 - 4:22pm

WASHINGTON (BP) – The United States has signed with at least 31 other members of the United Nations a pro-life declaration decrying abortion and affirming the family unit and universal health coverage among other beliefs.

Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia and Uganda joined the U.S. Thursday (Oct. 22) as co-signers of the Geneva Consensus Declaration, which is intended to signal to the U.N. the right of individual countries to support the sanctity of life without financial retribution or other coercion from other nations.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who participated in the signing ceremony along with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, called the declaration “historic,” as the “first time that a multilateral coalition has been built around the issue of defending life.” He heralded the declaration’s cross-regional support from countries with a combined population of 1.6 billion people.

“With increasing frequency, some rich nations and U.N. agencies beholden to them are wrongly asserting abortion as a universal human right,” Azar said at the signing ceremony, which was held virtually. “These efforts pressure countries to institute progressive abortion laws or risk losing global funding or standing in international fora.”

Southern Baptist ethicist Elizabeth Graham said the declaration furthers a global effort supported by several nations to preserve life.

“The coalition certainly begins with a shared opposition to abortion, and this international pro-life effort helps create momentum for the pursuit of better healthcare standards for women and strengthening the family as foundational for society,” said Graham, vice president of operations and life initiatives for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “Every person across the globe, from the very beginning of life in the womb, is made worthy of immeasurable dignity in the image of God.”

While only 32 of the U.N.’s 193 member nations have signed the declaration to date, Azar said the statement “is a critical and useful tool to defend these principles across all United Nations bodies and at every multilateral setting using language previously agreed to by member-states of those bodies.”

“Tragically, women around the world unnecessarily suffer health challenges – all too often deadly health challenges – while too many wealthy nations and international institutions put a myopic focus on a radical agenda that is offensive to many cultures and derails agreement of women’s health priorities,” Azar said.

Among the six co-sponsoring nations, the U.S. and Hungary are the only countries where abortion is legal nationally with varying gestational period limits, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, whose mission statement is fundamentally opposed to the declaration. Abortion is illegal in Egypt, and is available to save the life of the mother in Brazil, Indonesia and Uganda.

“At its very core, the declaration protects women’s health, defends the unborn, and reiterates the vital importance of the family as the foundation of society,” Pompeo said. “The declaration restates that ‘there is no international right to an abortion.’ It goes even further, affirming that every country has its own sovereign right to determine its own laws with respect to abortion. We say clearly, quote, ‘There is no international obligation on the part of states to finance or facilitate abortion.'”

The document, titled the Geneva Consensus Declaration On Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family, builds on an initiative Pompeo said the U.S. advanced in 2019 among likeminded nations to advance human dignity in the global public square.

“The result of that was that we delivered 20 of them to prepare a joint statement to decry pro-abortion language in UN documents. Together, these nations said clearly there simply is no international right to abortion,” Pompeo said. “Today, we’re taking the next step, as we sign the Geneva Consensus Declaration.”

Among nearly 15 core statements, the declaration affirms the importance of universal health coverage in achieving the declaration’s health goals, referencing a political declaration drafted at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly’s meeting on universal health coverage.

Other nations signing the declaration include Belarus, Saudi Arabia and Poland, the Washington Post reported. Azar and Pompeo have invited other nations to sign the declaration.

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 4:10pm

Missouri Baptists support The Baptist Home through COVID outbreak

By BP Staff

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) – The Baptist Home, a residential senior care facility affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, has experienced an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus at two of its four campuses. The agency’s Chillicothe, Mo., campus has seen six deaths from the virus among its residents.

An update on The Baptist Home website said despite the cases, Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services found the campus to be “deficiency free with no suggestions.”

“To say our staff were doing a great job is an understatement,” said Ruthie Meyers, administrator of the Chillicothe campus. “However, it is nice to have confirmation that we are doing all we could do.”

Baptist Home President Rodney Harrison said the agency has received help in various ways, including volunteers handling grounds maintenance so employees can focus on deep cleaning, churches providing crisis counseling for staff and Baptist nurses filling in for staff who are quarantined.

“The outpouring of prayer and support from the churches and the Missouri Baptist Convention has exceeded expectations,” Harrison said.

Read a statement from The Baptist Home here.

Louisiana camp devastated by Laura, help needed

By Norm Miller

DRY CREEK, La. (BP) – Hurricane Laura uprooted, snapped off and twisted more than 500 trees, obstructing the landscape at Dry Creek Baptist Camp such that workers spent almost three days clearing a short stretch of camp road that led to a garage where equipment, needed to restore the campus of the 95 year-old encampment, was kept.

“Our greatest need is for some volunteers who can come and stay for a while – I’m talking weeks,” said Todd Burnaman, Dry Creek camp director. “Maybe some RVers or some folks who could stay in our cabins and help keep things moving at a steady pace. We love having youth groups coming in for a day, too,” he said.

Three weeks after the hurricane swept through the area, the camp still has hundreds of trees that need to be removed as well as other general clean-up work.

“We’re just using every bit of energy we have right now to get the trees off the ground,” Burnaman said. “I can’t even start to think about spending energy taking care of people, which hurts, because that’s what’s important. If we don’t get trees off the ground, we can’t get people here.”

Camp staffers, including administrative assistants, have pitched in to remove brush, broken limbs and other debris.

“We’re in a pretty tight financial spot these days, and our staff is all-in,” Burnaman said. “We have a ‘do whatever it takes’ attitude.”

Burnaman said access to supplies is not a problem.

“But one of our biggest needs is finances,” he said. “We’d already depleted savings because of the coronavirus. We’re just kinda hangin’ on here.”

Read the full story here.

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 3:32pm

NASHVILLE (BP) – President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden sparred over issues involving human dignity Thursday evening (Oct. 22) during their final debate before election day.

Less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election, Trump and Biden debated racial justice and immigration as part of the event at Belmont University. While another human dignity issue, abortion, gained a short discussion during the first debate Sept. 29, it was not a part of the most recent debate.

Moderator Kristen Welker, a White House correspondent for NBC News, asked the candidates to talk about “the way black and brown Americans experience race in this country.”

In a claim he has made previously, the president said, “Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump,” although he acknowledged President Lincoln might be an exception. “I am the least racist person in this room,” he said.

Trump cited criminal justice reform, prison reform, opportunity zones in economically depressed communities and help for historically black colleges and universities as his administration’s accomplishments that have aided African Americans.

Biden said the United States has “never lived up” to its proclamation in the Declaration of Independence “that we hold these truths to be self-evident, all men and women are created equal. … But we’ve always constantly been moving the needle further and further to inclusion, not exclusion.”

Trump is the first president to say, “That’s the end of that. We’re not going to do that anymore,” Biden said. Citing Trump’s rhetoric during his presidency, Biden said he “is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history. He pours fuel on every single racist fire, every single one.”

In response to a question from Welker, Biden said it was a mistake for him to support crime bills in the 1980s and 1990s that helped imprison tens of thousands of young black men who were arrested for possession of small amounts of drugs.

He has been trying to change the law, Biden said. “That’s why I’ve been arguing that in fact we should not send anyone to jail for a pure drug offense. They should be going into treatment across the board.”

In an approach Trump used at other times in the debate, he challenged Biden, asking him why he didn’t make a change in the eight years he was vice president under President Barack Obama. “You put tens of thousands of mostly black young men in prison. Now you’re saying you’re going to undo that,” Trump said. “Why didn’t you get it done?”

On immigration, Welker asked about a report Wednesday (Oct. 21) that the parents of 545 children cannot be found after their separation at the southern United States border under a previous Trump administration policy.

His administration is working on reuniting the families, but many children come across the border by means of drug cartels, gangs and smugglers known as coyotes, Trump said.

Biden rejected the president’s explanation, saying the 545 children in question came with their parents. “Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated. … It’s criminal,” he said. “And it makes us a laughingstock and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”

Welker asked Biden why voters should trust him since the Obama administration failed to deliver on its promise to reform immigration.

The Obama administration “took too long to get it right,” Biden said. If elected, he will send Congress legislation to provide a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, Biden said. He said he also will restore protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to those who were brought across the border as children.

On other topics:

  • Biden said he would move the country away from dependence on the oil industry.

During a discussion of climate change, Trump asked the Democratic nominee if he would “close down the oil industry.” He has “a transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden replied. Trump said, “Oh, that’s a big statement.”

When Welker asked him why he would do so, Biden said, “Because the oil industry pollutes significantly.”

Under his administration, the United States has “the best carbon emission numbers that we’ve had in 35 years,” Trump said. Biden said, however, the country needs “to move toward net zero emissions. The first place to do that by the year 2035 is in energy production, by 2050 totally.”

  • Trump said a vaccine for COVID-19 will be “announced within weeks.”

When asked by Welker, Trump said it was “not a guarantee, but it will be by the end of the year. But I think it has a good chance.”

Biden said Americans are “about to go into a dark winter. … And there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

He did not refer to a mask mandate, as he had in the past, but Biden said he would “make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask all the time.”

Trump said, “I don’t think we’re going to have a dark winter at all. We’re opening up our country. We’ve learned and studied and understand the disease, which we didn’t at the beginning.”

  • Trump said Biden wants to implement “socialized medicine,” a charge the Democratic nominee rejected while saying, “Everyone should have the right to have affordable healthcare.”

As with the previous presidential debate and the only vice presidential debate, no questions were asked about religious liberty, a matter of particular interest to Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians. Religious freedom has gained attention especially during the COVID-19 pandemic because some states and localities have implemented restrictions that treat churches and other religious bodies unequally with some businesses.

Nor was there a discussion Thursday of the pending confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The Senate is expected to vote Monday (Oct. 26).

The event in Nashville was to be the third presidential debate, but the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled the scheduled Oct. 15 debate when Trump refused to participate after the panel changed it to a virtual format. The commission made the change for the health of all involved after Trump announced Oct. 2 he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 2:22pm

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump announced Friday that Sudan will start to normalize ties with Israel, making it the third Arab state to do so as part of U.S.-brokered deals.

The deal, which would deepen Sudan’s engagement with the West, follows Trump’s conditional agreement this week to remove the North African nation from the list of state sponsors of terrorism if it pays compensation to American victims of terror attacks.

Recently, the United States brokered diplomatic pacts between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Jordan recognized Israel in the 1990s.

Trump invited reporters into the Oval Office while he was on the phone with the leaders of Israel and Sudan. Trump said Sudan had demonstrated a commitment to battling terrorism. “This is one of the great days in the history of Sudan,” Trump said, adding that Israel and Sudan have been in a state of war for decades.

“It is a new world,” Netanyahu said over the phone. “We are cooperating with everyone. Building a better future for all of us.”

Netanyahu has made it a priority to forge ties with formerly hostile countries in Africa and the Arab world in the absence of any progress with the Palestinians during his more than 10 years in office. The deal also is aimed at unifying Arab countries against their common adversary, Iran.

These recent recognitions of Israel have undermined the traditional Arab consensus that there can be no normalization with Israel before the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinians say the recognitions amount to betrayal, while Israel says the Palestinians have lost what they have seen as their “veto” over regional peace efforts.

The deal with Sudan will include aid and investment from Israel, particularly in technology and agriculture, along with further debt relief. It comes as Sudan and its transitional government teeter on the edge. Thousands have protested in the country’s capital Khartoum and other regions in recent days over dire economic conditions.

Trump’s announcement came after Sudan followed through on its pledge to deliver $335 million to compensate American victims of past terror attacks and their families. The money is meant for victims of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by the al-Qaida network while its leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in Sudan. Trump said on Tuesday that once the funds were transferred, he would remove Sudan from the list.

The removal of the terror designation opens the door for Sudan to get international loans and aid needed to revive its battered economy and rescue the country’s transition to democracy.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising last year led the military to overthrow the longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir. A military-civilian government rules the country, with elections possible in late 2022.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok thanked Trump for signing the executive order to remove Sudan from the terrorism list and said in a statement that he hoped to complete the process in a “timely manner.”

The normalization agreement had been in the works for some time but was finalized when Trump’s Mideast peace team, led by Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, visited the region earlier this week to mark the first commercial flight between Israel and Bahrain and then went on to the United Arab Emirates, according to U.S. officials.

Unlike with Bahrain and the UAE, there has been a state of hostilities between Sudan and Israel, even if they had not been in direct conflict.

Key to the agreement was Sudan’s deposit of $335 million into an escrow account to pay compensation to victims of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. A senior U.S. official said Sudan had borrowed the money needed to pay that amount.

Unmentioned in the joint statement was that Sudan has agreed, according to the senior U.S. official, to designate Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organization, something that Israel has long sought from its neighbors and others in the international community.

Kushner said that other normalization agreements between Israel and Arab nations are in the works but would not predict which countries or when those deals might be completed.

BBC News reported Friday (Oct. 23) that Trump expects Saudi Arabia will be among the countries to normalize relations with Israel.

From The Associated Press. May not be republished. Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in Washington, Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Isabel DeBre in Dubai contributed to this report.

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 2:15pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: October is Pastor Appreciation Month.

CARBON HILL, Ala. (BP) – It started as a normal Sunday. Scott McCullar, pastor of First Baptist Church, was about to conclude the morning worship service. It happened to be his wedding anniversary. His family would grab something to eat after the service before preparing for evening worship.

Before he could call on someone to offer a closing prayer, he was stopped by Jason Morris, chairman of the deacons.

It was Pastor Appreciation Day, Morris told the congregation as McCullar stood by.

“I cannot express the appreciation that me, this church, this community has for you and your family,” Morris said, turning to the pastor. “God has blessed you, your family, us with your leadership. … You love the Lord, you love this community, and we love you as a church.”

He presented McCullar with a gift from the deacons and told him they would give him the night off by canceling the evening service.

But there was more, Morris said.

Pastor Scott McCullar and the members of First Baptist Carbon Hill, Ala., meet outside after Sunday morning worship for a special gift presentation.

He directed the congregation to gather outside in the parking lot. As the McCullar family followed, Michael Kelley, another deacon at the church, was there to meet them.

“Our church had a need 13 years ago for a pastor. God led Brother Scott to us and filled our need in a great way,” Kelley announced. “Today we want to fill a need that Brother Scott has.”

He handed McCullar an envelope. It contained the title to a new car.

As McCullar stood in front of the congregation trying to understand what it meant, a brand new Honda CRV with a huge red bow pulled up from around the corner.

“I was in shock at that moment. It was just mind-blowing,” McCullar recounted.

“I’ve never received anything like this. It was just unimaginable that a church would do this.”

Kelly knew the pastor’s car was old and had a lot of miles on it. He said the gift had been in the works for quite some time.

“My wife and I were convicted about it. We wanted to do something,” Kelley said.

The gift couldn’t come from the church budget, so Kelley met with church members discreetly and collected a secret love offering. People were excited about the idea, he said. No one was pressured to give, and all contributions were completely anonymous – the car would be a gift from the whole church family. The church members gave so generously that the car was purchased in full with cash.

McCullar struggled with accepting such a large gift.

“I told [the church] it was hard for me to receive this, because people were saying to me, ‘You deserve it, you deserve it.’ And I do not. I do not deserve this.

“I was just really in prayer about it. And I felt God say to me, ‘You have a problem with grace, don’t you, Scott?’”

He did not earn the car and could do nothing to pay it back. But more than that, he cannot earn and does not deserve God’s grace, McCullar said.

“It really was overwhelming in that moment, as God ministered to my heart, that I don’t deserve the grace. I certainly don’t deserve the car, but even more than that, I do not deserve God’s grace.”

McCullar’s 13 years as pastor of First Baptist Carbon Hill have been full of ups and downs, but through it all, he and the church have remained committed to each other as a family.

“Pastoring is hard work. It’s difficult; it’s heartbreaking,” he said. “There are hard times just as there are great times.

“I’ve seen this as an investment and a partnership. And I guess [the church] bought into that, because they’ve done the same thing with me, which is only an act of God’s grace.”

When churches encourage their pastors, it makes their burden lighter, McCullar said. Even a seemingly small token of appreciation can be a big blessing.

“Learn what your pastor likes and do something that would encourage him specifically,” he said. “Because then that shows him that you are paying attention to him and you care about him.”

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 2:02pm

NASHVILLE (BP) – Americans gave 3.02 percent of their income to the church in 1968. By 2017, it had declined to 2.13 percent. If this trend is not reversed, by 2050 it is projected to decline to 1.66 percent.

This money does not belong to people to keep in their pockets, because all money belongs to God. We are called to honor God with at least the first 10 percent of all God has entrusted to us in life. This practice is to be ongoing weekly, not weakly.

The greatest financial security for all Christ-followers is to practice God’s financial plan by following a biblical pattern to carry out personal stewardship.

Your personal financial posture and your church’s financial posture does not improve by keeping money and hoarding what you may think is yours. Conversely, your personal financial security and your church’s financial security is more certain when you follow God’s financial plan found in the Bible.

Six-week sermon series and curriculum series

That is why I have written a Bible-based, theologically sound stewardship emphasis which is designed to include two resources every church can use regardless of size or location:

  • A six-week sermon series

  • A six-week curriculum for Sunday School or small groups

While the pastor preaches in the worship service that “God Is the Owner of Everything,” each of your small groups, Bible study classes and Sunday school classes teach the same.

Your team of laypersons or staff can easily transfer these principles so they can be simultaneously taught to all of your students, children, and preschoolers. If you do not teach them, no one will. Everyone, at all stages of life, needs to be called to biblical stewardship.

Six biblical principles

The six principles I am encouraging you to teach your people are proven. They are biblical, strategic and practical.

  1. God Is the Owner of Everything

  2. We Own Absolutely Nothing

  3. Honor God with at Least the First Ten Percent

  4. Bring the Full Ten Percent to the Church

  5. Practice Over and Above Giving

  6. Focus on the Great Commission Always

These six principles are steps to giving your church members a biblical way to look at their entire lives, including the finances that God alone has entrusted to them. Each church can and should do the same.

A Digital Church Kit is now available for free.

There is no cost to you or your church for this resource. Everything is downloadable at:

The Digital Church Kit includes:

  • A PDF copy of the book which you can distribute to all in your church

  • Promotional graphics for use in your church

  • Bulletin inserts for use in your church

  • PowerPoint slides for your sermon series

  • Social media graphics

You can request this free digital church kit here.

Why six weeks?

You may question why you would focus six weeks on a series like this. I believe we need to stop making excuses for not teaching stewardship because of fear or worry about what someone thinks. Why would you not teach about this subject? Given the infrequency of church attendance today, your best church members may be in church only two or three weeks over a six-week period of time.

Pastor and church leader, let’s emphasize the biblical principles of stewardship, standing upon the Bible’s authority in the name of Jesus, teaching them to give to your church in the power of the Holy Spirit. Laypersons and church leaders must echo these Scriptural teachings and loudly proclaim a hearty “Amen!” with the way they give of the resources that God alone has entrusted to them.

If a pastor and his church leaders do not teach principles of stewardship to the entire church in an ongoing manner, then we are not helping people and families, or discipling them to be all God wants them to be in their lives. This needs to change and change now.

TEN PERCENT: A Call to Biblical Stewardship is provided to help you personally and your church collectively. In addition to the digital download, we have a limited number of physical copies available. They may be ordered here. However, with this limited number, I encourage you to utilize the digital download if you are able.

Get this resource now and begin utilizing it to encourage your church to live biblically with the financial resources given to them by God.

Now is the time to lead.

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 1:17pm

Nevada churches pull together

By Karen Willoughby

RENO, Nev. – After Nevada Baptist Convention Executive Director Kevin White met for lunch in August with four pastors, one of them later called to say he’d tested positive for COVID-19.

“This meant the five of us were in quarantine and out of the pulpit for the following few weeks,” White said.

That example of the potential of infection throttling many more pastors was a contributing factor to Nevada canceling its annual meeting, in addition to the governor’s stringent statewide restrictions.

The executive board will look at the 2021 budget at its scheduled meeting in November. For now, “We’re in the black,” White said, despite an income reduction of about 23 percent. Nonetheless, Nevada continues to forward 50 percent of its Cooperative Program giving to global SBC causes.

“My churches have responded very well and continue to give faithfully,” White said. “Some have increased their Cooperative Program giving even in the midst of COVID-19 because God has blessed them and their church so much.”

In March, White started weekly online prayer meetings with Nevada pastors, one of whom would bring a devotion on alternating weeks. Other weeks, the devotion would be given by a nationally known Southern Baptist such as International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood, SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd and former LifeWay President Jimmy Draper.

The Wednesday Zoom gatherings – which grew to include at least 40 men – also involved sharing ideas and concerns.The pastors said the calls were helpful and encouraging, and word spread. Hispanic pastors told White they wanted to do something similar. Now the Spanish-language meeting happens on Thursdays, and White listens in using Google Translate.

“I am so proud of my executive board, so blessed to work with these godly men and women,” White said. Realizing many churches would be hit hard by the pandemic – 90 percent of one church’s members lost their jobs – the Executive Board voted to release some of the state convention’s reserve funds to pay rent, utilities, pastors’ salaries and the like.

“I was so proud they chose to give instead of hoard for the hard times that could be coming,” White said.

The next annual meeting of the Nevada Baptist Convention is set for Oct. 18-19, 2021 at Life Baptist Church in Las Vegas.

Colorado churches stay focused on what matters

By Karen Willoughby

DENVER, Colo. – Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in the cancellation of this year’s annual meeting, Colorado Baptists are on track and moving forward, Executive Director Nathan Lorick told Baptist Press.

“We are grateful for the sacrifice of Colorado Baptist churches,” Lorick said. “We’re only running 7 percent behind budget. We’re being diligent to keep our expenses below projections, and we are committed to continuing giving 35 percent of the offerings from Colorado churches to missions through the Cooperative Program.”

The executive board is to set the state convention’s 2021 budget at its upcoming November meeting.

Colorado Baptists thought long and hard about their 2020 annual meeting, Lorick said. “We determined it was better for us to not risk a gathering and people getting sick. Not having an annual meeting for us would not change our world but if someone came and got sick it could change their world.”

The challenge for state convention leaders has been “making sure we’re continuing to walk closely with our pastors, keeping them encouraged and focused on the mission God has called them to,” Lorick said.

“Our churches are still encouraging people and baptizing and seeing people come to faith in Jesus in this very crucial time. We’re seeing churches continue to engage their communities and taking the next steps to accelerate the Gospel.”

Lorick had affirming words for the convention’s partners, alluding to changes in funding for state conventions nationwide from the North American Mission Board and LifeWay Christian Resources.

“We know Covid has caused financial challenges for our partners,” Lorick said. “We’re in the Great Commission together and we’re going to continue to walk together. We’re called to do this together. I’m optimistic about the partnerships God has allowed us to have.”

The next annual meeting for Colorado Baptists is set for Oct. 11-12, 2021, in Fort Collins.

Kansas-Nebraska Baptists ‘supporting the Cooperative Program’

By Eva Wilson

SALINA, Kan. (BP) – In 2021 the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists will increase its giving to the national Cooperative Program from 29.5 to 30 percent.

The KNCSB Mission Board prays together at their meeting Oct. 16. The board met in lieu of the full convention meeting, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 KNCSB annual meeting was canceled due to the coronavirus, but the KNCSB Mission Board conducted business on the convention’s behalf Friday, Oct. 16, at CrossPoint Church in Salina, Kan.

Board members approved the 2021 KNCSB budget of $3,955,260, a slight decrease from the 2020 budget.

But KNCSB Executive Director Bob Mills praised Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptists for their faithfulness in giving to the Cooperative Program despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am grateful for how our churches and directors of missions are supporting the Cooperative Program,” Mills said. “We’re blessed. Our people are faithful.”

In other activity, the board approved David Manner as the new KNCSB executive director. He will succeed Mills, who will retire Feb. 28, 2021. Manner will be the convention’s fifth executive.

Manner joined the KNCSB staff in 2000 as director of worship and administration. He has served as associate executive director since 2012.

Meeting participants also were challenged to pray for heart renewal and revival in Nebraska and Kansas. The challenge came from Andy Addis, the new KNCSB volunteer evangelism team leader. Addis is a past KNCSB president and will continue to serve as lead pastor of CrossPoint Church in Hutchinson, Kan.

In other staff changes, Robbie Nutter is the new KNCSB director of collegiate ministry. He continues to serve as director of Christian Challenge at Kansas State University. Georges Boujakly, KNCSB missions director, will retire in December. Ryan Johnston will assume the position, which is funded by the North American Mission Board.

The board approved only one resolution, denouncing racism and committing to its eradication and “to the Great Commission task of making disciples of all people.”

The current KNCSB officers have agreed to serve another year. They are: President Voyt Lynn, director of missions in South Central Baptist Association in Kansas; Vice President David Martinez, associate pastor of Northern Heights Baptist Church in Norfolk, Neb.; Recording secretary Bryan Jones, pastor of Tyler Road Southern Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan.; Assistant recording secretary Susan Pederson, member of Prairie Hills Southern Baptist Church in Augusta, Kan.; and Historian Tony Mattia, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Wamego, Kan.

The board also welcomed three churches into the convention.

The next convention meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11-12, 2021 in Salina, Kan.

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 3:55pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: October is Cooperative Program Emphasis Month in the Southern Baptist Convention.

BATON ROUGE (BP) – Longtime Baptist collegiate minister Steve Masters received a call from an international student at the start of the COVID-19 economic shutdown. The Louisiana State University student’s job was no longer available.

“He wanted to know if we could provide him with some money or some food. So I gave him some personal money and I provided him with some direct food,” Masters said. “And that kind of triggered a thought that there were other students like this.”

The student’s request led to a weekly distribution of 70-80 food boxes to international students from numerous countries during the global COVID-19 pandemic’s economic slowdown, Masters said. Eggs, fresh meat, orange juice, a variety of canned goods and other staples fill the 14-inch boxes.

The Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program funds the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at LSU, as well as BCM outreaches at more than 20 other Louisiana colleges and universities. The Cooperative Program, the SBC’s system of funding local, national and international missions and ministries, helps fund the salaries of BCM leaders across the nation. Local Baptist associations also support the collegiate work.

“The Cooperative Program’s invaluable. We wouldn’t exist without the Cooperative Program,” said Masters, who has led LSU’s BCM for 29 years. “That’s who we are. We believe in it strongly and appreciate greatly the churches that give to the Cooperative Program.”

The LSU BCM is following up with more than 40 food box recipients who have expressed a desire to know more about the Gospel. One has professed Jesus as Savior. Masters said many international students have volunteered for disaster relief projects following hurricanes Sally, Laura and Delta, and five students are now certified in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief chainsaw work. Students frequently visit area Southern Baptist churches.

“There’s over a million international students studying in the U.S. and many of them lost their jobs because the universities closed down. And then in the summertime, they closed down but the students were trapped,” unable to return to their home countries because of travel restrictions, Masters said. “We have an incredible opportunity to reach out to these students in the name of Christ. It is God bringing the world to us.”

The food box outreach began in March with a weekend distribution of 22 boxes of canned good donated by Hebron Baptist Church in Denham Springs, La.

“That triggered it,” Masters said. “We announced the need to our alums and to our parents, and over $30,000 worth of food has been provided from our BCM to international students at LSU.”

Several Baton Rouge-area churches support the outreach, including First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Istrouma Baptist Church, Progressive Baptist Church, Faith Baptist Church of Lavonia, Dutchtown Baptist Church in Prairieville, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church and Ascension Baptist Church, among others. The Louisiana Baptist Convention and the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge also support the outreach.

Students from China, India, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Canada, France, Peru, Egypt, Nigeria and other countries have received food boxes and have expressed their appreciation, Masters said.

“Thank you so much for your generosity,” Jayvee of the Philippines told the BCM office. “God bless you more. Let’s continue to help and pray for each other. Let’s trust God. He is a miracle-maker.”

“This ministry has been very helpful,” Diego of Peru told the BCM. “Due to COVID-19, we don’t have the usual shuttles to go shopping.”

The food boxes supplement the weekly international dinners the BCM has served at LSU for 15 years. Each Monday night, more than 50 students gather for a meal, with rotating weekly emphases on games, culture and spirituality. The Gospel is proclaimed to students from a variety of religions including Islam, Buddhism and Christianity.

The food box distribution began because of limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Masters expects the outreach to continue through the end of the year.

“I think for the summertime it was definitely the COVID need, but then we’ve discovered that it’s a continuing need, especially now because many of them … got trapped here,” he said. “Their countries have been decimated by the coronavirus, so they’re not getting as much money as they did from their parents, from their governments from home. … So COVID has definitely caused the greatest need.”

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 2:55pm

Cross Church increases CP giving to $1.4M

By Sarah Vaughn

SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Cross Church in northwest Arkansas has announced a 10-year vision for all four of its campuses as well as an increase in its giving through the Cooperative Program.

The announced increase of $50,000 brings its total CP giving to $1.4 million. Cross Church is second-highest in CP giving in the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Like many other churches, we were uncertain what the COVID crisis was going to mean for our church in many ways, including financially,” Senior Pastor Nick Floyd said. “God has blessed and taken care of us in great ways. Ever since we got aggressive several years ago in our CP giving, we have seen the blessing of God in our church. We kept our budget as a church flat for this next year with all the uncertainty but found ways to cut back at home so we could give more away through the Cooperative Program.”

“We really do believe our church can change the world. But we equally believe we can’t reach the world alone,” Floyd said. “We’re able to do way more when we combine our efforts and resources with thousands of other SBC churches than we could do alone.”

Read the full story here.

Blume missions event canceled

By BP Staff

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) – WMU has announced that Blume, a missions event for girls scheduled for summer 2021, has been canceled.

The event was originally planned for July 8-11, 2020, but was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After prayerful consideration, the general board of national WMU and our Blume planning committee are in agreement to cancel our Blume event planned for summer 2021,” WMU said in a statement. “We encourage Acteens groups and girls ministry groups to make plans to impact their own communities next summer by finding ways to share God’s love as you reach out and serve together as we would have done through Blume.”

Blume is a missions conference in which fifth-12th grade girls have the opportunity to worship, serve in missions projects, hear from International Mission Board and North American Mission Board missionaries, participate in Bible studies and breakout sessions and other interactive activities.

More information about the event can be found at

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 2:45pm

PRESTONBURG, Ky. (BP) – Monday was my birthday. While birthdays are for celebrating (I never dreamed I would be this old!), for me it’s also a day of personal evaluation.

Many moons ago in school, it was the custom to get report cards. We were graded on our behavior, attitude, effort and schoolwork. Each year on the anniversary of my birth, I do a report card of sorts on the same things.

Back in the day, “Conduct” was the most important of all grades. All other classes and assessments paled in comparison to the Conduct grade. If you didn’t do well on Conduct, you were a goner for sure.

In eighth grade, I sat by one of the funniest guys in the world: Bradley Mounts. I didn’t talk a lot, but I got called down almost every day. When I wasn’t laughing, I was giggling. When I wasn’t giggling, I was snickering. Bradley was so funny! Unfortunately, my Conduct grade trickled down each six-week period. By the end of the school year, I had a “D”! If there had been one more grade period and I had received an “F” in Conduct, someone else would be writing this, because I would have been slain immediately after report cards came out.

Each year on my birthday, I review my Conduct for the last 12 months. Did my behavior bring glory to my heavenly Father? Was I a good example of a follower of Christ or did I lead people astray? Philippians 1:27 compels us: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. …” Conduct is STILL an important part of my eval!

Another thing my teachers assessed was “Effort.” Did I try my best in class or was I lazy? Did I give up too easily or did I show determination? Paul mentioned something about that in Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal. …” In school, even though I was often snickering, I did put forth an effort. But as a grown-up, especially in the year 2020, sometimes I get lazy. Trying my best is complicated these days.

For the three R’s (schoolwork), I ask myself three questions: Am I READING God’s Word as much as I should? Am I WRITING the words He wants me to share? For ARITHMETIC, am I adding souls to His kingdom? Did I tell anybody at all about Jesus in the last year?!

There was also a place on our report cards where the teacher listed areas that needed improvement. This is when I ask the Teacher of all Teachers to show me what I need to do better. Psalm 32:8 reminds me, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” He doesn’t expect me to figure out everything on my own. He is willing to tutor me on a regular basis!

I’m not trying to earn my way to heaven. That won’t ever happen! I’ll always be a work in progress and imperfect here on earth. It is a wonderful thing to know that I am loved unconditionally no matter what my report card says. My ultimate goal is to hear “Well done” from the Teacher!

Birthdays are fun, but not promised. Father, please help me to make each year count for YOU!