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Associations, churches show ‘Everyone Can’ commitment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—-Plenty of fruits of the Everyone Can initiative have blossomed across the country.

Among them:

A strategic planning team has been formed under the leadership of Biltmore Baptist Church in Asheville to promote associational baptism rallies across North Carolina. Biltmore Baptist has baptized more than 400 people in outdoor gatherings since 2003.

So far, more than 45 of the 80 North Carolina Baptist associations have signed on to hold baptism rallies, and the planning team hopes to support other states in spreading the challenge.

“In the state of North Carolina we have the opportunity to impact nearly 4,000 churches as we take the life-changing Gospel to our communities and allow them to really see what we are about,” said James I. Walker, Biltmore Baptist’s pastor.

Momentum has grown, Walker said, as people have seen “their family and friends come to Christ, and they realize how important it is for us to bring them into the Kingdom and to make a public display to our community that the church is alive and well and God is still in the business of saving people.”

Many churches, meanwhile, also have been responsive to SBC President Bobby Welch’s push for evangelism, including:

— Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., where 146 people were baptized on the church’s “Unashamed Sunday” and nearly 40 others had walked the aisle by the end of four services Jan. 8.

Pastor Forrest Pollock described it as “a movement of God unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

— Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., where 125 people were baptized during one service in December.

“As churches, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to reach the people who live across the street and the people who live in our communities and neighborhoods,” evangelism pastor Matthew Spradlin said, voicing appreciation that the Southern Baptist Convention has given focus to “the importance of the Gospel and its ability to change people’s lives.”

— Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., where the church reached the 1,000 mark in total baptisms for a five-year period on Nov. 27, a day Welch had set aside for the convention to emphasize baptisms.

“We’ve baptized 22 since then,” pastor Michael Cloer said in late December. “God is doing a work here. The church has doubled in size in the past five years. It’s because of people winning other people to Christ and baptizing them.”

Cloer said Welch’s evangelism emphasis is “long overdue.”

“I believe God has called Dr. Welch to challenge us as the Book of Esther says ‘for such a time as this.’ If there was ever a time for Southern Baptists to rally around what really makes us Southern Baptists, it’s now,” he said.

— Grace Southern Baptist Church in Virden, Ill., where more than 60 people have accepted Christ as savior during the past two years. In a town of 3,500 people about 20 miles south of Springfield, Grace was striving to have 100 people for a Sunday service two years ago, but now they easily surpass 200 each week.

“I would say 80 percent of the people over the past two years that have been saved have been adults over the age of 18,” pastor Brent Williams said last fall. “These people have been pulled in from outside. These are unchurched people that our people decided they would go and invite. Our church has made intentional decisions that we’re going to be the church … and when churches decide that they’re going to take seriously the Great Commission, then God is ready to do amazing and mighty things.”

— First Baptist Church in Colleyville, Texas, where 66 teens found a new life through accepting Christ as their Savior at a Super Bowl party Feb. 5 sponsored by the church.

Only 24 of the 66 new Christians attended a church prior to the event, which saw more than double the number of conversions as last year, when the party was held for the first time. More than 400 students attended the party after it was publicized by members of First Baptist’s youth group distributing free tickets at their respective schools.
Based on reporting by Andrea Higgins & Erin Roach. Go to http://www.everyonecan.net for additional information about the “‘Everyone Can’ Kingdom Challenge!” calling Southern Baptist churches to “Witness, Win, and Baptize … One Million” during the 2005-06 church year.

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