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Meredith Day

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She hasn’t missed Sunday School in 75 years

CLAY CITY, Ill. (BP) — Seventy-five years ago, June Harrison’s mother took her to a family gathering instead of church on Sunday. She immediately regretted the decision and Harrison hasn’t missed a Sunday since then. “She said I cried all day because I had to miss Sunday School,” said Harrison, who was 3 at the […]


  FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH IN MACHESNEY PARK The struggling U.S. economy hasn’t been kind to Winnebago County in extreme north-central Illinois.

 Winnebago, with the highest unemployment rate in Illinois, is home to the state’s third-largest city, Rockford. Several major plant closings over the past few years have impacted many of the county’s communities, including Machesney […]

Hard times lead church to give more through CP

MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (BP)--The struggling U.S. economy hasn't been kind to Winnebago County in extreme north-central Illinois. Winnebago, with the highest unemployment rate in Illinois, is home to the state's third-largest city, Rockford. Several major plant closings over the past few years have impacted many of the county's communities, including Machesney Park, where Kevin Kerr is pastor of First Baptist Church. "We've had people who have lost jobs, and some of them have stayed and tried to find lower-paying work or fewer hours," Kerr said. "Some have had to move away, and that has impacted our attendance as well as our offerings." Those facts make Machesney Park's place on the Illinois Baptist State Association's list of top-giving churches through the Cooperative Program even more notable, though Kerr is quick to downplay their 17 percent giving increase over 2009. The church wants to be higher on the list, the pastor said, even while balancing the needs of an aging building and a multifaceted ministry to the Karen (Burmese) congregation they planted in 2008. Some people in the Karen congregation also have lost jobs or had their hours cut back. Machesney Park has ramped up its financial contributions to the younger congregation, continuing to provide transportation, English as a Second Language classes and other support, along with donations of furniture and clothing for those who are new to the United States. The increased costs and continued economic impact have forced Machesney Park to continually adjust its budget, make priority decisions and present pressing needs to the congregation, Kerr said. "We are not a rich congregation. We don't have anybody that has lots of money. People are just hard-working and they are willing to sacrifice and give," he said. Last year, Machesney Park took up a "Barnabas offering" modeled after a New Testament church method of giving in which people sold what they had in order to give toward the apostles' ministry. Kerr challenged church members to consider selling things they weren't using, from smaller household items to boats or vacation homes. The offering went toward major expenses and freed up more dollars for missions. "Whenever we have to consider our CP giving, it is an agonizing thing for us, because we want to be very committed to that. So, we just laid out before our people what the needs were, and as their giving increased, it resulted in more dollars we were able to give," Kerr said.

Pastor finds footing with church & horses

WINCHESTER, Ill. (BP)–When Ted Rhoades helped start Cornerstone Baptist Church in 1996, he thought he’d serve as its bivocational pastor for a while before transitioning to a full-time pastorate. Through the years, as he helped Cornerstone grow into a congregation focused on missions and developing leaders, Rhoades’ ideas about his role as a bivocational pastor […]

WORLD HUNGER SUNDAY: Southern Baptists tackle hunger — both physical and spiritual

FRESNO, Calif. (BP)--On Oct. 11, Southern Baptist churches will focus on a staggering worldwide problem: more than 800 million people who suffer each day from hunger, according to recent statistics. In the United States alone ...

San Diego, Tijuana focus of mission thrust

SAN DIEGO (BP)–When Marc Botello first visited Tijuana last summer, he didn’t think he’d be back just a few months later. Botello, missions/outreach leader at First Baptist Church in Newhall, Calif., had taken a team to Tijuana to meet with Fernando Martinez, director of a Baptist-affiliated benevolence ministry named Centro Shalom, which focuses its ministry […]

Love compels WMU to pray, share

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–A personal experience with Christ’s life-changing love compels His followers to love in a way they never could have before, Ed Stetzer said June 9 during the second day of the Woman’s Missionary Union’s annual missions celebration in Indianapolis. Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research and coauthor with Philip Nation of this year’s WMU emphasis […]

COSBE impacts youth through ‘ONE’ rally

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Twenty-two people made decisions for Christ after hearing the Gospel through music and teaching at "ONE," an inaugural student evangelism event hosted by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists June 8 in Indianapolis.

Candidates: Church has role in AIDS fight

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–Six presidential candidates were united in telling the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church that America and its churches must exercise their influence in leading the world to end HIV/AIDS. But, reflecting the tussle inherent in the race for the White House, the candidates differed on exactly what policies should be […]

Warrens: HIV/AIDS battle needs leaders

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)--After too long a silence, the worldwide church has realized its responsibility as a leader in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, said Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, during the opening session of the third-annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church.       "The church was nowhere to be found in the 1980s, and we had to repent. I had to repent. But I want to tell you that the church has come to the table, and the church is not going to flake out. The church is here to stay. This is not a flavor of the week, a flavor or the month or a flavor of the year for us."       Warren and his wife Kay described their own wakeup call to the HIV/AIDS crisis. In 2002, Kay was confronted by the problem through a news report on HIV/AIDS and could no longer ignore her responsibility in the struggle. Through the Saddleback HIV/AIDS Initiative, created in 2003, the Warrens are challenging leaders to increase their own awareness and knowledge of HIV/AIDS so that, through their influence, the communities and churches they lead will be dedicated to solving the global problem. Because it is such an overwhelming problem, the first step is awaking to the challenge.       "I challenge you as you sit in your chair today: You are a leader. You have a voice. You can lift it on behalf of someone who has no voice. You can learn to focus it so that it makes a difference," Kay Warren said Nov. 28.