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10 most-read Baptist Press stories of 2020

With record pageviews, new content partnerships and a new site design, 2020 was a banner year at Baptist Press. We want to thank you, the readers, for the nearly 6 million pageviews and for reading the nearly 2,000 stories we produced this year. Most of all, we want to thank you for entrusting our team to bring you daily news for and about Southern Baptists. Here are our most viewed stories of the year:

1. Southern Baptist leaders issue joint statement on the death of George Floyd

Southern Baptist leaders published a statement grieving the death of George Floyd and calling for the end of “racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country.” The statement, co-authored by SBC president J.D. Greear and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president Jamie Dew, was unanimously signed by all SBC officers, entity heads and state convention executive directors.

2. Ridgecrest now for sale following special-called meeting of LifeWay trustees

LifeWay Christian Resources trustees authorized exploring the sale of Ridgecrest Conference Center and Summer Camps despite the conference center and camps operating at a profit in recent years. The trustee board’s executive committee presented the recommendation to the full board during a special-called meeting held virtually and in executive session April 23. The board unanimously supported LifeWay scheduling exploratory site visits with potential buyers.

3. Former Southern Baptist pastor Darrin Patrick, 49, dies unexpectedly

Prominent pastor and former Southern Baptist church planter Darrin Patrick died May 7 after an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Patrick, 49, was on staff as teaching pastor at Seacoast Church in the Carolinas. He also routinely provided pulpit supply at Southern Baptist churches across the country and was scheduled to preach May 17 at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.

4. Q&A: How churches, pastors are eligible for relief in stimulus package

The COVID-19 Pandemic Phase III Stimulus Package signed into law March 27 by President Trump provided potential relief for churches and pastors, thanks to efforts by the Church Alliance, a national coalition of large and historic church benefit boards, including GuideStone and Southern Baptist partners, to ensure churches and pastors had the same options as small businesses and self-employed individuals attempting to financially weather the economic turmoil wrought by COVID-19.

5. FIRST-PERSON: Five lessons I learned from a COVID-19 spike at our church

In March, April and May, Derek Allen’s church staff braced for a wave of COVID-19 cases to sweep through his church family. It never happened. In fact, for the first three months of the COVID-19 outbreak, the church family of about 1,500 experienced only a handful of coronavirus cases. As far as he knew, none of those cases spread at one of the church’s events. Then, in a moment, everything changed.

6. Seminary presidents reaffirm BFM, declare CRT incompatible

In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the Council of Seminary Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed “with eagerness” the BFM’s status “as the doctrinal statement that unites and defines Southern Baptist cooperation and establishes the confessional unity of our Convention.”

7. Southern Baptist church planter dies after being hit by semi-truck

John Powell, a church planter and pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney, Texas, was killed in a highway accident July 18, reportedly as he was helping a driver who had stopped in the traffic lanes.

8. Falwell releases statement, claims wife’s affair led to mental health issues

Embattled Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. released a statement late Aug. 23 through the Washington Examiner in which he claims his wife, Becki, had an “inappropriate personal relationship” in the past with a family friend who threatened to go public with details of the affair.

9. 95-year-old preacher prompts thousands to pray for global revival

At age 93, after pastoring 70 years, fighting in World War II and preaching at revivals all over the U.S., Fred Lunsford was ready for the Lord to take him home. But, Lunsford recounted, God had different plans for his life and was just getting started laying a new path that would expand well beyond the mountain town of Marble, N.C., where he’d lived all his life.

10. 73-year-old grandmother launches Facebook cooking show and spikes online viewership at rural Alabama church

“Big Mama” Brenda Gantt is up mornings at 4:30 brewing coffee, slow-cooking grits until they’re creamy, hand-kneading buttermilk biscuits she bakes on a cast-iron griddle, and preparing smoked sausage, blueberry fried pies and such for guests at her bed-and-breakfast in Andalusia, Ala.

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