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: Tennessee Baptist Convention, World News Service, Baptist World Alliance, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Tennessee Baptist Convention
names new disaster relief director
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (Tennessee Baptist Convention) — The Executive Board ministry staff of the Tennessee Baptist Convention has named a longtime disaster relief and ministry veteran to lead its state disaster relief effort. The appointment culminates a nearly one-year national search process.
Wesley A. Jones, a former state disaster relief leader in Iowa and former International Mission Board missionary in Guatemala, was chosen to fill the role of Disaster Relief Specialist. The announcement of Jones’ hiring comes after disaster relief veteran David Acres retired last September. Jones is scheduled to be in his role with the TBC Sept. 1, 2015. Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief has been led by interim leader and retired TBC employee Mike Overcash since Acre’s retirement.
“We are very excited to have Wes joining our team and serving Tennessee Baptists in this role,” said Randy C. Davis, executive director/treasurer of the Executive Board ministries. “He brings a great deal of experience to the position. Our Tennessee Baptist disaster relief volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who love to both serve and share the gospel. We wanted to find someone who shared that same passion, and we believe Wes does.”
Jones is a native of Virginia and graduated from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark. He also received his Master of Divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. He has served as a pastor and he, and his wife Pam, served overseas as church planters with the IMB in Costa Rica, Belize and Guatemala. Since 2002, Jones has been a director of missions and most recently held the position of Missional Church Planting Catalyst. He became heavily involved in disaster relief while in Iowa, earning certifications in National Incident Command Training (White Hat), S.P.H.E.R.E. (trained through Baptist Global Response), Chaplain Training, National Incident Management System Training (100, 200, 700, 800 A/B), Unit Supervisor Training (Blue Hat), SBDR Disaster Assessment Training, Introduction to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (Yellow Hat), Chainsaw Training and Chainsaw Safety Training.
Since 2013, Jones has been a member of the National Disaster Relief Steering Committee of the North American Mission Board and also a member of NAMB’s National Incident Command Team since 2006.
“It is an honor to be selected to serve as the Disaster Relief Specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention,” Jones said. “Nobody ever wants to see a disaster hit, but it is good to know that when they do, Southern Baptists are there to respond. I am excited to see what God will continue to do through the continued work of Tennessee Disaster Relief volunteers.”
China tightens grip on religious
minorities ahead of Xi Jinping’s U.S. visit
By J.C. Derrick
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WORLD News Service) — Human rights and religious practice are increasingly eroding in China, according to several witnesses who testified July 23 before the Congressional-Executive China Commission.
“In the last 18 months, religious freedom abuses have reached levels not seen since the Cultural Revolution” of the 1960s and ’70s, said Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, a U.S.-based human rights organization.
The hearing came as the United States prepares in September to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time. It also came amid an ongoing crackdown against numerous groups in China.
“China gets a pass on human rights — they have for far too long,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., who chairs the bicameral commission with Sen. Marco Rubio, R.-Fla.
Since last year, the communist government has systematically removed hundreds of crosses from atop churches — totaling more than 1,500, according to Fu — and completely destroyed some churches. Fu said the harassment has for the first time extended beyond unapproved house churches and to the government-approved Three-Self churches. He called on the U.S. State Department and President Barack Obama to officially condemn China’s actions against churches.
Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uyghur Congress, told the panel that Chinese officials increased their pressure on Muslims during Ramadan in 2015. Muslims were not allowed to take off work during Ramadan, and some were reportedly forced to eat or drink in public — including children in schools — to demonstrate they were not fasting.
“I don’t know anywhere in the world where Muslims are persecuted like the Uyghur Muslims in China,” Smith said.
This month China launched a crackdown on human rights lawyers, detaining some 50 in an operation that now includes more than 200 who have been detained, questioned or reported missing. Fu said the number of imprisoned dissidents in the first 21 months of Xi Jinping’s presidency surpasses the 10-year total of his predecessor.
“This action shows the Xi Jinping administration has no intention of following its own law — let alone international law,” Fu said. He urged the Obama administration to cancel or postpone Xi’s September visit, unless China releases the jailed human rights lawyers: “With them in their dark cells of Chinese prison, I don’t see the benefit of a visit from Xi Jinping.”
Other witnesses at the hearing included Voice of America’s Losang Gyatso, who detailed ongoing oppression of Tibetan Buddhists, and Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada 2015. Lin, a Canadian citizen whose family is in China, said her relatives have been threatened because she advocates for Chinese human rights. They in turn pressure her to stop speaking out. She said this is common for persons with family still in China.
“I think it would be shocking to most Americans to know that people living in this country, possibly American citizens, are being extorted through blackmail,” Rubio said.
Blount to join Southern Seminary
faculty as philosophy prof
By Andrew J.W. Smith
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) — Douglas K. Blount will join the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as professor of Christian philosophy and ethics July 1.
The Board of Trustees unanimously elected Blount at their April 20-21 meeting. President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told trustees Blount is a “spectacular” addition to the faculty.
Before Southern, he was professor of theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He also taught at Criswell College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Dr. Douglas Blount is well known and well respected among Southern Baptist and evangelical scholars,” said Gregory A. Wills, dean of the School of Theology. “He is deeply committed to the truth of the Scriptures, and is humble and engaging. He arrives with a wealth of classroom experience. Students will profit greatly from his courses.”
Blount earned degrees from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. He completed his Ph.D. in 1998 at Notre Dame, where he studied under a faculty that included noted philosopher and theologian Alvin Plantinga.
He has contributed to numerous books, including the Exploring Christian Theology series, the Holman Illustrated Study Dictionary, The Apologetics Study Bible, and Why I Am a Baptist.
“I’m honored and pleased to be joining the faculty of Southern Seminary,” Blount said. “It’s a great privilege to serve at an institution so well known for both its confessional integrity and commitment to excellence at every level, a privilege that brings with it the responsibility to continue and contribute to both those institutional distinctives. I take that responsibility quite seriously and am committed to fostering those ends.”
While at Notre Dame, his dissertation, “An Essay on Divine Presence,” explored God’s relation to space and time. Blount’s academic interests include the divine attributes, theoretic and applied apologetics, hermeneutics, faith and science, and faith and culture.
“My passion is to help students develop their ability to think Christianly, especially in a culture increasingly hostile to our faith and its Founder,” Blount said.
Blount will be joined at Southern Seminary by his wife Andrea and their two children, Katie and Andrew.
African installed as president
of global Baptist body
DURBAN, South Africa (Baptist World Alliance) — Ngwedla Paul Msiza of South Africa was installed as the second African to be president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), a global organization of Baptist Christians. The ceremony took place on July 25 during the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South Africa.
Msiza succeeds John Upton of the United States and is the first African to hold the office since William Tolbert of Liberia served as president of the BWA from 1965-70. Tolbert was later elected president of Liberal in 1971 until he was overthrown and assassinated in a military coup in 1980.
A BWA vice president from 2010-15, Msiza has been actively involved in the BWA since 2000, serving on its governing bodies and several key committees and commissions.
Msiza was president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, one of six regional fellowships of the BWA, from 2006-11 and general secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa (BCSA) from 2001-10.
He chaired the Local Arrangements Committee for the 2015 congress meeting in Durban.
In his response, Msiza, in alluding to the congress theme, “Jesus Christ, the Door,” declared that the church ought to swing the door wide open for those who would come to Christ, rather than acting as doorkeepers, deciding who are to be admitted and who to keep out. As doorkeepers, some install locks that “only they can open.” Contrary to such notions, Jesus Christ, the door, which affords an ongoing opportunity for entry.
Msiza emphasized that, for the church, “the door is Christ.” It is the one door, the only door, “single entry,” open to “all human beings, made in the image of God,” a demonstration that “We all belong together.”
Msiza was trained at the Hebron Teacher Training College and worked bivocationally as a pastor and school teacher from 1988 until he became founding principal of the Baptist Convention College in 1995, from where he left to become BCSA general secretary.
He holds diplomas and degrees from the University of Witwatersrand, the University of South Africa, the Baptist Theological Seminary of Southern Africa and the Baptist Bible Institute.
He has been pastor of Peniel-Salem Baptist Church in Pretoria since 2011.
He has been married to Sanna Mapula since 1986 and they have three sons.
Twelve vice presidents were also installed along with Msiza. They are Michael Okwakol, Uganda; Ernest Adu-Gyamfi, Ghana; Tapan Chowdhury, Bangladesh; Miyon Chung, Australia; Anslem Warrick, Trinidad and Tobago; Jules Casseus, Haiti; Dimitrina Oprenova, Bulgaria; Jan Saethre, Norway; Naomi Tyler-Lloyd and Jerry Carlisle of the United States; Jorge Quinteros, Chile; and Luiz Roberto Silvado, Brazil.
Saethre of Norway will serve as first vice president.
The new slate of leaders serves until the next global gathering of Baptists in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2020.
The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 232 conventions and unions in 121 countries and territories comprising 40 million members in 177,000 churches.