News Articles

BP Ledger, April 15 edition

EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today’s BP Ledger contains items from:
Florida Baptist Convention
Campbellsville University (two items)
World News Service
Kentucky Baptist Convention
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Nashville Publicity Group

Past FBSC president Keith Thomas dies at 57
By Staff

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (Florida Baptist Convention) — Keith Thomas, past president of the Florida Baptist State Convention 1996-97, died Saturday April 6 in The Woodlands, Texas, from pancreatic cancer. He was 57 and had suffered with the disease for five years.

At the time of his FBSC presidency, Thomas was pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, where he served from 1990-2003, when he was called as pastor to Cottage Hills Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala.

During his tenure in Florida, he served on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Committee on Order of Business from 1993-96; including a stint as chairman in 1995-96; as a trustee at Florida Baptist Theological College (now Baptist College of Florida) from 1997-2000; as a trustee from Florida for the SBC North American Mission Board from 2001-03; and as a trustee at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

He was called as pastor of Cornerstone Church in The Woodlands, Texas, just outside Houston in December 2011.

Thomas is survived by his wife of 34 years, Karen, and their four children, Nathan, Nolan, Lauren and Kelsey.

A memorial service was held Thursday, April 11, at a sister church in the community, Crossroads Baptist Church in The Woodlands, Texas.

In lieu of flowers the family asks donations be made to the Keith Thomas Chair of Faith and Prayer at Emmanuel University and Seminary in Oradea, Romania. Gifts can be made through a designated account at Cornerstone Baptist Church.
Campbellsville hears SBC President in chapel, awards leadership medal
By Christina L. Kern

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University) — “I believe in victorious living — He didn’t save us just to give us fire insurance from hell,” Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in chapel at Campbellsville University April 10.

Luter is the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention and is the senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.

His church was in nine feet of water after Hurricane Katrina hit. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, while introducing Luter at chapel, said Luter’s ministry “lived through the depth of hardship, but resurrected to great strength.”

Luter’s church has over 7,000 members today.

Luter was awarded the Campbellsville University Leadership Award during the chapel service. Carter defined a true leader as someone who takes individuals further than they can believe themselves.

“It is difficult to pull off victorious Christian living on a regular basis. If we are going to be the light and the salt of the earth, we need the mind of Christ to do His work,” Luter said.

It is important to have a renewed mind, he said. “There is not a minute our mind is not tempted by the enemy. The enemy comes against the mind of a believer. There comes something we know we shouldn’t do, but before that minute has passed we find ourselves seduced, we find ourselves enticed, we find ourselves punked by the enemy,” Luter said.

He said no one is exempt from the schemes of the enemy. It doesn’t matter your position, age, race, education or vocation, “none of us are exempt” and “Satan will do all he can to attack the mind.”

Luter said Satan got to the mind of Adam and Eve, Cain who killed Abel, Jacob who fooled his own father, David and Bathsheba, the prodigal’s son, Judas who betrayed our Savior and Peter who denied Jesus. “But Satan didn’t stop at the Bible. For those sitting here, Satan is impacting lives. Our minds have been bamboozled. How can we be salt in this society?”

He said, “In Philippians 2, Paul is saying if believers are going to be victorious and be able to stand, we must have a renewed mind.”

Luter said a renewed mind should help you think about your Christ, help you think about your choices and think about the cross.

He said a renewed mind should help you think about Christ and all Jesus has done for you. “He left his home in glory to come down and help us. He brought sanctification and justification for us, and He’s coming back for you and me… when I think about what He has done for me, my soul shouts ‘Hallelujuah!'”

Luter said a renewed mind should help you think about your choices. “Jesus didn’t allow his heavenly position to interfere with his earthly responsibilities. He made a choice to please the Father. We have freedom to make our own choices, but we should make sure they please the Heavenly Father.”

He said in order to make the right choices we must know what God says about our choices. We must look to the Bible for God’s advice in our choices such as it says in Proverbs 3:5 to “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding…”

“Every choice you make leads to a consequence. A consequence can be a blessing or a burden,” Luter said.

“Would Judas make the same decision if he knew the consequence of his decision? Would David and Peter make the decisions if they knew the consequences? Would Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, the Kardashian sisters and Whitney Houston make the same decisions in their lives if they knew the consequences? Every choice you make leads to a consequence and the choices you make today will lead to a consequence.”

A renewed mind should also help you think about the cross.

Luter said, “Every preacher talked about Jesus’ suffering on Good Friday.”

He said the nails, the crown of thorns and the sword in his side should help us think about the cross. His cries from the cross should help us think about the cross.

“He died for us, but that’s not how the story ends! Three days later he rose from the grave!”

Luter said his life was changed by the hymn “At the Cross.”

He said, “Let your minds be renewed to think about Christ, to think about your choices and to think about the cross.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
Campbellsville dedicates papers of former U.S. Congressman Ron Lewis
By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University) — A process that has been five years in the making was completed Monday, April 8 with the dedication of the congressional papers of Ron Lewis (R-Ky.), former United States representative, in the archives at Campbellsville University’s Montgomery Library.

Lewis, who was called the “people’s representative,” presented Campbellsville University President Michael V. Carter with the door plate that was on Lewis’ door in Congress.

“I cannot tell you how much of an honor this is,” Lewis said, “when CU asked for my papers. It’s an honor, and I feel very privileged to have served the second congressional district.”

Lewis, who serves on the CU Board of Trustees, said he was honored his papers, which features some doodles from Lewis the artist, were at CU. “It was your voice, your office and your seat,” he told the audience. “It was hard work but a blessing.”

Lewis served as U.S. congressman from 1994 to 2009. Carter praised Lewis and said the holding of the papers was a first for Campbellsville University – the first time to house the papers of a former congressman or other ranking official.

“This is a significant and historical period of American history,” he said.

Dr. Glen Taul, CU’s archivist, said it had been a pleasure to work on the papers for the last five years. He said there were 87 boxes with over 1,000 folders in the collection.

Taul said the papers are a great asset to the university and to teachers who will make assignments to students and history will be learned. “The papers are very insightful and trace Lewis’ decision making process while in Congress,” he said. “They are a window into the thinking of the author,” Taul said.

He said Lewis’ efforts at saving Fort Knox from being closed and the tobacco buyout were two significant events during his tenure. The collection has copies of the House bills pertaining to the buyout and also many personal and political papers, legislative records, press and media collection, administrative files and other documents of the history of that period in Kentucky.

Taul presented Lewis with a finding aid for the papers.

Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young and Taylor County Judge-Executive Eddie Rogers presented Lewis with a proclamation that declared him an honorary Campbellsville citizen.

Good friend John Duncan, United States Congressman from the second district of Tennessee, praised Lewis for his leadership and called him “one of the finest men to ever serve in Congress.”

Duncan said Lewis almost immediately emerged as of the “most popular and kindest” congressional members.

He said Lewis was a “very active congressman” who came on almost every weekend and represented the district so well.

“Noah was a good man and walked with God. You can say that about Lewis,” Duncan said.

Carter, and other CU officials, accepted an acrylic painting done by Lewis of Mary and an infant Jesus.

Carter said Lewis has “always been there for CU” especially when the School of Nursing was begun. “He reflects the heart of CU,” he said.

Lewis secured $300,000 in federal funds for the nursing program; this was the allocation of funds that was used to leverage additional funding for the nursing program from other sources.

Later when Lewis was getting ready to retire, he provide $50,000 for the endowed nursing scholarship in memory of Mrs. Frances Clinkscales for whom a courtyard at the School of Nursing is named.

John “Bam” Carney, (R-Ky.), state representive, said Lewis has “been right there when we needed him.” He said he has served as the voice of Christian and private education.

United States Congressman Brett Guthrie, (R-Ky.), who serves as the second district’s representative, said he learned from his father that the true measure of a person is how they treat people who are not in a positive of authority.

He said two women who work in the cloak room always ask about Lewis, and Guthrie said that is a testament to his character.

Lewis praised CU for the honor of housing his papers, and also thanked several people in the audience including John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, who worked on Lewis’ staff for three years, and also Virginia Flanagan, who worked with him and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

Lewis said he misses the friends he made in Congress and the traveling he did in his district. “Thank you for your support. It takes a team; one person can’t do all the accomplishments.”

Lewis represented the second congressional district of Kentucky from 1994 to 2009. He was elected in a special election to fill the unexpired term of the late William H. Natcher.

While serving in Congress, Lewis was a member of many influential committees including agriculture, National Security, ways and means and government reform. He served a little more than seven terms.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
NAE, others endorse UN arms treaty; others wary of unintended consequences
By Emily Belz

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (World News Service) — After seven years of back and forth, the United Nations Tuesday, with the backing of the United States, passed the first-ever treaty regulating the international arms trade. The treaty also gained the unusual backing of a number of Christian organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the National Council of Churches (NCC).

Only three countries — Syria, North Korea, and Iran — voted against the treaty, which garnered 154 “yes” votes. Twenty-three countries, including Russia and China, abstained from the vote, indicating a not insubstantial level of unease.

The treaty is likely to be mostly symbolic. Its enforcement depends on the 50 countries ratifying it: the United States, the world’s largest arms exporter, almost certainly will not. To win ratification the treaty needs the support of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate, which looks unlikely with Republican opposition. The National Rifle Association, a heavyweight in U.S. politics, opposes the treaty on the grounds that it could infringe on Americans’ gun rights and add burdensome regulations on American gun dealers.

Secretary of State John Kerry praised the passage of the UN treaty on Tuesday and made sure to note it only regulated international trade: “Nothing in this treaty could ever infringe on the rights of American citizens under our domestic law or the Constitution, including the Second Amendment.”

Support for a UN arms treaty is a turnaround for the U.S. government. The Bush administration declined to pursue a treaty, but the Obama administration has since taken up the cause.

Several Christian organizations have been pushing for the treaty over the last year. In mid-March a number of Christian leaders wrote a letter to President Obama urging the United States to offer its support. Top officials from World Relief, the Christian Community Development Association, Christianity Today, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and the Christian Reformed Church of North America, among others, signed the letter.

“One treaty alone cannot end war and violence,” they wrote. “But the ATT [arms trade treaty] can help keep weapons out of the hands of those threatening U.S. troops, missionaries, humanitarian workers, and innocent civilians around the globe.”

On Wednesday, Galen Carey, vice president for government relations at the NAE, explained why the group decided to get involved on the issue.

“It will make the situation safer for our aid workers and missionaries,” said Carey. “We’re keenly interested that the legitimate international trade in weapons, which we recognize and support, is not diverted in sending weapons to the wrong people.”

Last week the NAE promoted a nationwide day of prayer for the treaty and hosted a public prayer meeting in New York as the treaty’s negotiators were finalizing details. I asked Carey whether the treaty might indirectly harm missionaries or aid workers who might have to arm themselves in unstable countries.

“I don’t believe I ever came across any missionaries or aid workers who directly arm themselves,” said Carey, who grew up on the mission field and later worked for World Relief, the humanitarian aid arm of the NAE. “They may hire security guards…. [The treaty] wouldn’t affect legitimate trade of that kind. We’re talking about whether it’s OK for Russia to sell weapons to Syria.”

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, has criticized the NAE, the NCC, and others for endorsing the arms treaty. Tooley wrote that moderate religious groups are “too often … willing to trust international treaties to achieve global harmony.” He said there was a history going back to the 1920s of church groups like the Federal Council of Churches with “very lofty intentions” getting behind arms treaties through the League of Nations. “Those treaties have not always had happy endings, and have unintended consequences,” Tooley said Tuesday.

Ted Bromund of The Heritage Foundation, who has followed the treaty process closely, said that bad actors would likely flaunt the treaty while using it to constrain law abiders like the United States. So Iran might continue to supply arms to terrorists, but bring charges against the United States if the United States theoretically attempted to arm rebels in Iran.

“It’s a very important issue, and certainly people of faith should be involved in it, but whether the name of the church should be used for a very specific stance is questionable,” Tooley said.

Carey said even if the treaty is symbolic, he thinks it will affect “the political and moral standards … it will be important to civil society.” But he acknowledged, “We have to be modest about our expectations of what this treaty will accomplish.”
Team Catches Vision of New Ministry Partnership in Africa
By Ken Walker

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Kentucky Baptist Convention) — Five Kentucky Baptists who took a recent “vision tour” of Sub-Saharan Africa see a limitless number of mission opportunities in the 41-nation region.

“We can help people in these areas not only respond to a disaster but better themselves,” said Bob Perkins, a member of Simpsonville Baptist Church and a key leader for Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief.

The trip was the next step in a disaster relief and community development partnership between the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Baptist Global Response.

Coordinated through Southern Baptist humanitarian workers Mark and Susan Hatfield, the partnership will help Sub-Saharan Africans better respond to disasters and also enhance their quality of life through improvements in agricultural development, job training and housing construction. In the process, those life changes will help them understand how much God loves them.

Perkins said the tour of seven sites in Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar clearly revealed several specific service opportunities.

“In Madagascar, the number one thing we found people need after a cyclone or other disaster is clean water,” he said. “If we go now and drill some wells that can withstand hurricane force winds, then we’ve eliminated the problem.”

Community development is an area perfectly suited to those who possess such skills as carpentry, mechanics, child care and construction, Perkins added.

“We have to convince our farmers, women and mechanics how badly they’re needed to go on these trips and help people learn these trades,” said the former law enforcement officer.

“We went to one baby center that has a need for cots and cribs so they can handle additional (infants). They don’t have anybody that can build them.”

Mark Hatfield, a native of eastern Kentucky, said he and his wife, Susan, are confident that Kentucky Baptists can help bring lasting change to the region through the partnership.

“We know there are many lay people in KBC churches who have the skills, gifts and desire to make a significant impact,” Hatfield said. “We hope that BGR can be that link between real needs on the field and who can meet those needs.

“Susan and I hope to see several long-term partnerships develop between churches or associations and ministries where deep relationships can be built,” he added.

KBC Missions Mobilization Team Leader Eric Allen said the community development aspect of the partnership could draw on previously untapped mission skills of some Kentucky Baptists.

“I think it will help us see the benefits of long-term involvement by believers and the development of transformed lives, rather than just a temporary fix or short-term relief for those in need,” he said.

Registration remains open at www.kybaptist.org/hope through April 12 for KBC’s Sub-Sahara Disaster Relief and Community Development Training in Louisville. The April 26-27 event will be held at Highview Baptist Church’s east campus.

Baptist Global Response leaders Pat Melacon and Jeff Palmer will lead the training. The vision trip team and the Hatfields will be on hand to share their insights of the needs of the people in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Coy Webb, director of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, said in a region with such economic struggles as Sub-Saharan Africa, disaster preparedness sometimes is non-existent. Through the partnership, Kentucky Baptists may find themselves responding to crises in addition to helping locals develop response plans for disasters yet to occur.

“We will have to adapt and be very flexible,” Webb said. “We will have to sleep in tents and maybe fix our own food. We will have to use hand tools, where in the U.S. we’re used to using power tools.”

Despite the challenges, Perkins said he hopes Kentucky Baptists will step out in faith and become involved in the partnership.

“Once you go a time or two, you find Africa is a great place,” he said. “When people are less fortunate and live in grass huts, they rarely have people come and help them. They are in awe. We need to take the good news about God’s love over there and let them know we are there to help.”

Kentuckians are already responding. In March, a four-member medical team led by Dr. Tom Ashburn of First Baptist Church of Barbourville traveled to Mali, where they treated more than 900 patients over 10 days.

Among other projects planned—a group from Simpsonville Baptist intends to take a motorcycle repair team to Mozambique this summer. Porter Memorial Baptist Church of Lexington is considering working at Kigoma Hospital in Tanzania.

Each effort by Kentucky Baptists will meet a significant need and is a step forward in expanding ministry in Africa, Hatfield said.

“By partnering with Kentucky Baptists we will be able to support existing ministries,” Hatfield said. “We also see the partnership as a way to open up ministries in new work areas where there has been little witness to God’s goodness.”

For more information, visit the KBC website at www.kybaptist.org or find “Kentucky Baptist Convention” on Facebook or follow “kentuckybaptist” on Twitter.
Foundation awards $450,000 grant to Palm Beach Atlantic for new M.Div. program

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Palm Beach Atlantic University) — The Kern Family Foundation has awarded Palm Beach Atlantic University a $450,000 grant over five years to support the start-up and implementation of Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Master of Divinity program, which begins this fall.

Specifically, the grant will support offering some students the ability to obtain both a bachelor’s and a Master of Divinity degree by following a five-year course of study. Traditionally, this requires four years of undergraduate study plus three years of graduate level coursework.

“In a day and age where student debt is an issue, this new program provides students significant cost and time savings without sacrificing the academic quality and rigor of their ministerial training,” said Dr. Jonathan Grenz, director of the M.Div. program.

“Palm Beach Atlantic’s program will provide young, aspiring pastors with high-quality and practical education at a much more affordable cost. The Kern Family Foundation is excited to be a partner in this endeavor,” said Kyle Bode, program director for the Kern Family Foundation.

Palm Beach Atlantic University President William M.B. Fleming, Jr. said he considers it an honor for PBA to be included among the handful of schools chosen for the grant. “It is an affirmation of what we are trying to accomplish through the five-year model,” President Fleming said. “We are grateful for the Kern Family Foundation’s entrepreneurial philanthropy.”

In addition, the Master of Divinity program will be offered in the traditional three-year format, an accelerated two-year format and a part-time four-plus year format to meet the needs of students. The degree includes a required apprenticeship in ministry.

The program will be Palm Beach Atlantic’s fourth master’s degree program offering. The University presently confers master’s degrees in counseling psychology, business administration (M.B.A.) and leadership. In addition, PBA offers a professional degree in pharmacy (Pharm.D.).

For more information on the Master of Divinity degree program, call Graduate Admissions at 561-803-2122 or visit learn-well.pba.edu

Palm Beach Atlantic University is a private, independent university offering undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in West Palm Beach, Orlando, Wellington and online. The University is dedicated to the integration of Christian principles to prepare students for lifelong learning, leadership and service.
Christafari’s ‘Reggae Worship’ hits #1 on Billboard Reggae Chart

LOS ANGELES (Nashville Publicity Group) — Nearly nine months after it was first released, Gospel reggae pioneers Christafari have jumped to #1 on Billboard’s Reggae Albums Chart with their latest album, Reggae Worship: A Roots Revival. While Christafari is no stranger to the Top 10 on the Reggae chart, this marks the first time in Billboard’s history that a Christian band has secured the top spot.

On Reggae Worship: A Roots Revival (Lion of Zion Entertainment), Christafari reworks classic hymns, reinterprets many of today’s top worship anthems and gives fans a handful of original worship songs that truly capture the band’s signature sound.

“We’ve been blown away by the positive response from our fans and the press for our latest album,” says Christafari’s founder and frontman, Mark Mohr. “To think that just a year ago we were asking our fans to help fund this album and now we are #1 on the Billboard chart! It’s an honor to be the very first Christian artist to ever top this mainstream chart—and to do so with a worship album is even more incredible!”

Christafari has spent much of the last year on the road, touring internationally including stops in Fiji, New Caledonia, a month-long tour of Brazil and the United States, including a just completed 24-city Hawaiian island tour that resulted in 531 souls saved. In the coming months, the band will return to Hawaii and Brazil, and perform throughout the continental USA.

The band was recently featured on ABC Family’s The 700 Club, and TBN filmed a live concert appearance in Hawaii for an upcoming special broadcast.

With over a half million albums sold worldwide, Christafari is the all-time top selling Gospel Reggae artist. The band continues to tour worldwide, performing more than 100 shows each year reaching more than 50 countries. For more information, visit www.christafari.com.

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