David Dawson/Baptist and Reflector

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FIRST-PERSON: Homeschooling rings our bell

NASHVILLE (BP) – It was a tough decision.  For several weeks, my wife and I talked about it at great length. We prayed about it, sweated over it and, occasionally, I will admit, flip-flopped on it. 

What do online viewership numbers really mean?

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP) -- Brentwood Baptist Church digital strategy director Darrel Girardier admits that he has a love-hate relationship with analytics, especially in relation to online worship and other events that are streamed on social media platforms.

Clinic opens avenues for Gospel sharing

SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (BP) -- The remote medical clinic hosted by Robertson County (Tenn.) Baptist Association did more than meet physical needs. It provided an opportunity for spiritual healing too. The one-day clinic, held at a Springfield, Tenn., community center, offered a variety of medical services -- ranging from eye exams to dental needs -- at no cost and also included a counseling area where participants could ask spiritual questions and/or get connected with local churches.

Go Tell Crusade sees ‘powerful’ movement

WHITE PINE, Tenn. (BP) -- During his years of ministry, pastor Dean Haun has experienced both ends of the "success spectrum" in regard to certain events and projects. He has seen some that fall flat and some that surpass all expectations. So, when he was asked to serve as chairman of the Lakeway Area Go Tell Crusade, held April 28-May 1, Haun prepared himself and his team for what might lie ahead. The four-day evangelism crusade -- led by evangelist Rick Gage and held at the Walters State Community College Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center in White Pine, Tenn. -- ended up reporting more than 850 decisions, including 341 professions of faith.

Memphis pastor leading ‘church without walls’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP) -- It would have been easy for Barron Martin to take the safe route. He could have moved from the Memphis area, found a comfortable job, and simply "tuned out" the violence and poverty that plagues the neighborhood where he was raised. Instead, he chose the opposite approach. He elected to be on the frontline. Responding to God's call, Martin has become a highly-visible figure in the West Frayser area, bringing the hope and love of Christ to his community. He is the founder and pastor of One Faith Christian Center Church, which is dedicated to reaching youth and children for Jesus amid the tough circumstances.

Tenn. Baptist on cereal boxes for tutoring efforts

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Somewhere between exercising, working tirelessly in his yard, rebuilding classic cars, cutting hair and serving multiple roles as a lay leader at his church, 82-year-old Neal Buchanan still finds time to volunteer as a reading tutor at the elementary school near his home. Buchanan, a member of Lincoya Hills Baptist Church in Nashville's Donelson community, has been passionate about childhood literacy for his entire adult life. He was recently honored for his devotion to the cause by being featured on two brands of Kellogg's cereal boxes -- Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes.

Youth team in Guatemala treks to towns & villages

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (BP) -- The concept of "giving the shirt off your back" took on an almost literal sense for 37 students and leaders who traveled to Guatemala for a weeklong mission trip in June. "Many of the kids left for the trip with a suitcase packed full of clothes and came home with a virtually empty suitcase," said Bruce Edwards, youth ministry specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. "We asked them to bring clothes that they would be willing to donate to the underprivileged in Guatemala, and I think the experience of doing that was very meaningful for many of the kids." The mission team, sponsored by the mission board and its Youth Evangelism Conference outreach, encompassed youth from five churches along with several TBMB personnel, including Edwards and disaster relief specialist Wes Jones and his wife Pam, former missionaries to Guatemala.

Youth rally memories: funny, touching, miraculous

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Kent Shingleton occasionally scratched his goatee and broke into a chuckle while reflecting on his two-decade tenure as the coordinator of Tennessee Baptists' Youth Evangelism Conference. Shingleton said he had a deep supply of stories he could share -- some funny, some touching and some truly miraculous. But Shingleton, who is passing the coordinator baton to TBMB evangelism event specialist Jay Barbier, said his biggest takeaway from his 20-year involvement with YEC has been seeing how many lives have been touched by the event -- one of the many youth rallies sponsored by state Baptist ...

TN fires: Churches reflect on God’s grace 1 year later

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (BP) -- For pastor Kim McCroskey and his congregation, the odyssey appears to be nearly over. After spending nearly exactly one year in temporary venues, the members of Roaring Fork Baptist Church in Gatlinburg will soon be returning to their original location. "The light at the end of the tunnel is really bright," McCroskey said. "We know we are about to come back home." Roaring Fork Baptist was destroyed last November -- losing its sanctuary and family life center -- in the Great Smoky Mountain wildfires that swept through the region. But after a long and steady recovery process, aided by Tennessee Baptist disaster relief teams and Builders for Christ, the church is scheduled to start hosting services on its campus again within the next few weeks.

Tennessee Baptist pioneer reinterred

WHITESBURG, Tenn. (BP) -- The remains of Tennessee pastoral pioneer Tidence Lane have been moved to the grounds of a church he pastored beginning in 1785. Around 1779, Lane helped found what some believe to be the first organized church of any denomination in Tennessee, Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church near Jonesboro, according to Albert Wardin's book "Tennessee Baptists: A Comprehensive History, 1779-1999." Six years later, Lane -- a Revolutionary War veteran -- became founding pastor of First Baptist Church in Whitesburg, Tenn., when the congregation was known as Bent Creek Baptist Church.