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:
World News Service
California Baptist University
Gay couple files complaint against
denomination, with pastor’s approval
By Daniel James Devine
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (World News Service) — Two homosexuals who attend a United Methodist Church (UMC) in Winston-Salem, N.C., have lodged a complaint with Methodist officials against their pastor for not marrying them. Although same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina last month, the UMC, like most Christian denominations, does not permit clergy to perform same-sex weddings or ceremonies.
Green Street United Methodist Church announced the complaint against its senior pastor, Kelly Carpenter, during a press conference Nov. 12. The couple, Kenny Barner and Scott Chappell, say that by refusing to marry them, Carpenter is violating the UMC Book of Discipline’s requirement for pastors to “perform the work of the ministry” and refrain from “gender discrimination.”
The couple’s Oct. 30 complaint stated they had been “victimized by Reverend Carpenter’s adherence to United Methodist Church rules,” and that the denial of a church-ordained marriage had caused “great spiritual harm to us both.”
The move appears to be a coordinated effort by the couple and the pastor to challenge UMC rules. Barner and Chappell are active members of Green Street Church, and Chappell is listed on the church’s website as executive director of one of the church’s social service ministries. Barner is chair of the church’s leadership council, according to United Methodist News Service. The church openly advertises its inclusion of “LGBTQ” members and has, since 2009, been part of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a group of activist UMC churches seeking to change church policy toward marriage and ordination of gays.
Carpenter himself supports same-sex marriage. He told United Methodist News Service the complaint was “right on the money” and that he would have co-signed it if he could. UMC rules prevent him from conducting a gay marriage without the risk of discipline. In protest of church policy, Carpenter promised in March 2013 to refrain from performing a heterosexual marriage at the church until the UMC changes its position.
“The national opinion and political culture is rapidly changing on the issue of gay marriage,” Carpenter wrote at the time. “Our United Methodist denomination has failed to lead the way in this struggle for equality, and will once again have to catch up to the culture.”
Green Street Church has a Sunday attendance of around 190 people. It did not immediately return a request for comment.
The complaint, under review by the church’s regional conference, could exacerbate the contentious issue of same-sex marriage within the denomination. The UMC defrocked Pennsylvania Pastor Frank Schaefer last year for performing a same-sex ceremony, but reinstated him last month on a technicality.
Last week, the UMC’s Council of Bishops released a statement recognizing “the divisions that exist” between the church and some bishops regarding “human sexuality.”
Larry Goodpaster, the bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference, said in a statement that he had received the complaint and would review it according to the UMC’s Book of Discipline. “This is now a personnel matter and will be done in confidentiality,” he said. Under church rules, Goodpaster could dismiss the complaint or refer it to a church legal official for further consideration.
“The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching,” states the UMC’s 2012 Book of Discipline. “Therefore, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”
The Book of Discipline adds: “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” The UMC could only change its stance on homosexuality through its General Conference, which next meets in Portland, Oregon, in 2016.
North Carolina officials began handing out same-sex marriage licenses last month after a federal judge overturned the state’s law defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Several magistrates—court-appointed officials authorized to perform marriages and various civil and criminal duties—have stepped down from their posts since then, citing a conflict between same-sex unions and their faith.
Child Evangelism Fellowship
celebrates president’s 25th anniversary
WARRENTON, Mo. (Christian Newswire) — This year marks the 25th anniversary of Mr. Reese Kauffman’s tenure as president of Child Evangelism Fellowship, which under his leadership has become the largest Christian ministry to children in the world. Last year, CEF reached 15.6 million children around the globe with the Gospel.
According to Mr. Bill Elgin, chairman of the International Board of Trustees for CEF, Mr. Kauffman came at a crucial time. “When Reese was installed as president of CEF, the ministry was in crisis. The buildings and equipment at International Headquarters were in a state of disrepair, morale was low and the lack of financial support seriously hindered the ministry to the children. Reese immediately provided vision and godly leadership that began to change the culture of CEF. This has resulted in improvements to the facilities, motivated leadership around the world, a rapid increase in the number of children being reached, and an aggressive vision for the future. It is safe to say there will be millions of souls in Heaven that may not have heard the Gospel if it were not for Reese’s leadership these last 25 years.” A self-effacing man, Mr. Kauffman gives all the credit for these accomplishments to the Lord first of all, to the CEF staff, workers and volunteers. “Our people are what make the difference,” he says.
The ministry has indeed expanded enormously over the past 25 years. Today CEF has ongoing daily ministries in 190 countries, more than double the number of countries it had in 1989. Currently there are over 4300 CEF Bible clubs for children, called Good News Clubs, in public elementary schools all over the United States and over 62,000 Good News Clubs worldwide. Every summer CEF reaches thousands of children through 5-Day clubs and its Good News Across America campaigns which target a different American city every year. Its published materials have reached children in every corner of the globe. For example, the CEF Wonder Book has been translated into 150 languages and millions of copies have been distributed all over the world. The Do You Wonder Why? booklet, designed to help children cope with tragedy, has been distributed by CEF to countless children after major natural or man-made tragedies, such as the September 11th bombings, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan.
Mr. Kauffman who grew up in Indianapolis and now resides on Sanibel Island, Florida, built a successful manufacturing business in Indianapolis where he became involved in a local CEF committee in 1975. Later he served on the CEF International Board of Trustees. Then in 1989, he was asked to take on the leadership of the entire international ministry. He agreed to do it for one year, refused a salary, and left his business in order to take the reins of CEF full-time. He never left and has been a volunteer president ever since. “I am not a children’s worker,” says Mr. Kauffman, “I am a business man and I understand high volume, high output organizations. CEF is just that. When you realize that 85% of Christians in the world trust the Lord Jesus as Savior by the age of 15, and see the extraordinary work God does through our children’s workers, you can see why CEF runs like a high output business.”
Asked about his future goals for CEF, Mr. Kauffman does not hesitate. “By 2017 we want to be in every nation in the world; we have seventeen to go. Ten of them are going to be tough but it won’t be accomplished by a strategy, method or program. If it happens it will be done by God and His grace. Our motto is ‘Every Child, Every Nation, Every Day.'”
Parker stepping down as CBU provost
to join full-time teaching faculty
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (California Baptist University) — Dr. Jonathan K. Parker, California Baptist University provost and vice president for academic affairs, has announced he will leave the administrative post he has held since 2000 to teach fulltime on the CBU faculty. The move will be effective next summer.
“The whole reason why I got into higher education to begin with was my passion for teaching, my passion for pedagogy, my passion for bringing new people into the profession of teaching,” Parker said. “I purposely chose a more practically-oriented doctorate in education because at heart I have always been a practitioner.”
Parker holds the CBU faculty rank of professor of education and history. He said he became an administrator, first as a dean and later as a chief academic officer, because he realized he could have greater impact in higher education. And Parker said he was “fully on board” in 2003 when Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, CBU president, announced a goal to increase enrollment to 8,080 students by the year 2020.
“I thought, yes, absolutely this is what the institution needs to do,” Parker recalled. “That number will really put CBU in a place that we can do the kinds of things that smaller schools can’t do, particularly in the breadth and depth of academic programs that we can offer. I was excited to be part of the team to help make that happen.
“Now that goal is within sight,” Parker observed. “Also, we now have in place a really good system for identifying and bringing on board Christian faculty members who really get what it means to integrate faith and learning,” he added. “I feel confident that this process will continue to work well without me in the position of provost.”
President Ellis said he was not expecting Parker’s decision to step down as provost and vice president for academic affairs, but he supports Parker’s move to full-time teaching at CBU.
“For more than a decade Jonathan has made a significant contribution to CBU’s growth, not only in its size but also in its reputation for academic excellence,” Ellis said. “I am grateful for the strong support he has given to the vision of building ‘a university committed to the Great Commission’ at a critical time during the expansion of CBU’s academic programs.
“I am pleased that he wishes to pursue his passion for teaching fulltime as a member of the CBU faculty and I wish him every success in this new direction,” he added.
Ellis said Parker will continue in his administrative role through the end of the current fiscal year as a national search for his successor begins. Details of the search process are expected to be announced before the end of the current semester.