Indonesia tsunami draws BGR ‘outpouring’
TANJUNG LESUNG, Indonesia (BP) -- A tsunami that killed at least 430 people in Indonesia the weekend before Christmas is being met with an "outpouring" of God's love, Baptist Global Response (BGR) executive director Jeff Palmer says. The 10-foot tsunami in Indonesia's Sunda Strait -- between the islands of Java and Sumatra -- was triggered Dec. 22 by an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano and an ensuing landslide. In addition to the deaths, nearly 150 people remain missing and more than 1,400 were injured, according to media reports. Tens of thousands have been displaced.
‘First Step’ criminal justice reform becomes law
WASHINGTON (BP) -- The launch of criminal justice reform backed by both conservatives and liberals has become a reality in federal law. The First Step Act to promote the rehabilitation and societal re-entry of prisoners while maintaining public safety was signed by President Trump on Friday (Dec. 21). The measure provides training for inmates and reforms some sentencing requirements, including certain drug offenses. Trump's action followed the House of Representatives' passage of the bill Thursday (Dec. 20) ...
SBTS slavery & racism report stirs media flurry
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's 71-page report on the institution's history of slavery and racism garnered coverage in hundreds of media outlets during the week following its release. Reaction to the report ranged from affirmation by many evangelicals to criticism from both the left and right. "Insofar as there is any legitimacy to any criticism, we need to hear it," Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said Dec. 17 on NPR's On Point radio broadcast. "... I intend to deal with honest partners in this, with people who want to engage in a conversation about the Christian responsibility that we face as Southern Seminary. And I think Southern Baptists ...
Repeal of tax on churches appears to fail in Congress
WASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation Thursday (Dec. 20) to reverse a year-old law that calls for churches to file tax returns for the first time in American history, but it appears unlikely the effort will go any further in this Congress. The House voted 220-183 in a nearly party-line vote for a bill that included repeal of a 2017 tax cut's provision -– Section 512(a)(7) -- that required houses of worship and nonprofit organizations to pay a 21 percent tax on such employee benefits as parking and transportation. Only Republicans voted in favor of the proposal, and all but three of those opposing the legislation were Democrats.
SBC’s 2018 ‘season of change’ an opportunity to pray
CARY, N.C. (BP) – A review of this year's top stories reveals one particular topic that seems to stand out -- change. And it is presented here as a call to pray for the many churches, organizations and individual Christians involved -- that is to say, all of us. The Southern Baptist Convention began what appears to be a season of change in 2018, signaled most noticeably by vacancies in executive leadership roles at five SBC entities. Yet, there was also a wave of other openings, transitions or announced departures in seats of influence at state and national entities, as well as local churches.
WRAP-UP: Worldwide missions, ministries projected to see gains in CP funding; 18 states boosting SBC portion
NASHVILLE (BP) -- For the second year in a row, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists approved the largest increase among all state Baptist conventions in the portion of Cooperative Program receipts sent beyond the state next year. The new split of 65 percent for in-state missions and ministry and 35 percent for the work of Southern Baptist entities will deliver an anticipated $192,500 beyond the two states for international and domestic missions, six Southern Baptist seminaries, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the Executive Committee of the SBC. Joining Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptists with increases in the percentage given to SBC causes ...
Analyst: Fed rate hike reflects ‘economic conditions’
DALLAS (BP) -- Financial markets continued to retreat in the wake of the Federal Reserve's decision to raise the Fed Funds rate by 0.25 percent, to a range of 2.25 and 2.5 percent. The move by the Fed was expected. It was the fourth rate hike of 2018 and the ninth since December 2015. "The Fed has a dual mandate," said David S. Spika, chief strategic investment officer for GuideStone Financial Resources: "price stability as determined by the Core Consumer Price Index and full employment. In light of this dual mandate, the current economic conditions ...
GuideStone, in new HQ, strengthened services in 2018
DALLAS (BP) -- Last January, at the start of GuideStone Financial Resources centennial anniversary, O.S. Hawkins declared 2018 the Year of New Beginnings. With a new headquarters for the Southern Baptist entity, the launch of new health care options and the successful completion of the GuideStone 100 long-range plan that has guided the board's work for more than a decade, 2018 indeed became a year of new beginnings for GuideStone. "We believe that our best years remain in front of us," Hawkins, GuideStone's president since ...
2018 brings memorable milestones for LifeWay
NASHVILLE (BP) -- For LifeWay Christian Resources, 2018 brought significant milestones, as well as innovative ministry products and services for churches and their members. In August LifeWay trustees began the search for a successor to President and CEO Thom S. Rainer, who announced his retirement during the semiannual trustee meeting. Rainer told trustees he had no doubts it was the right time and season to pass the baton of leadership.
ERLC focuses on human dignity, family in 2018
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Human dignity and the family occupied much of the Gospel focus of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission during 2018. The ERLC co-hosted a racial reconciliation conference attended by about 4,000 people on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., again co-sponsored Evangelicals for Life (EFL), and addressed the Gospel and the family in its annual national conference. The entity with offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C., also continued its advocacy for religious freedom domestically and internationally.