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BP Ledger Monday, Oct. 27

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.

Trinity celebrates the
inauguration of David S. Dockery

DEERFIELD, Ill. (Trinity International University) — Trinity International University celebrated the inauguration of David S. Dockery as its 15th president with a series of events Oct. 20-24 that focused on “Heritage and Hope.”

Drawing on that theme, Dockery’s inauguration address Oct. 23 examined the origins of Trinity, its faithful history and future opportunities.

After tracing the history of the institution since the founding in 1897 as the Swedish Bible Institute, he noted that Trinity now has students, alumni, faculty and staff with ties to 70 nations.

“A small school with Scandinavian roots now evidences global outreach,” Dockery said.

Building on that heritage, Dockery said Trinity has a strategic opportunity to help lead the way in multifaceted outreach for the larger evangelical world. He encouraged his new colleagues to model virtues in the tradition of Kenneth Kantzer and Carl F. H. Henry, two stellar Trinity leaders in the latter half of the 20th century.

“We do not seek to relive that period of time, but to learn from it, and build upon it,” Dockery said.

As Dockery presented a vision for Trinity’s future, he observed that a commitment to Trinity’s confessional framework would be needed to guide the journey.

“A renewed appreciation for unity on the Trinity campus, within the evangelical community, and across the Christian movement would not only strengthen our commitment to Trinity’s distinctive mission, but would help provide the context that would encourage a fresh commitment to biblical orthodoxy, a historical Christianity shaped by the pattern of Christian truth, a faithful intercultural, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and transcontinental evangelicalism that stands or falls on first-order issues,” Dockery said.

Dockery invited Trinity faculty, staff, students, administrators, and Board members to give of themselves with a new and willing enthusiasm to the conviction that all knowledge, all truth, and all wisdom find their truth in God, as well as to the distinctive confessional commitments, mission, core values, and sense of community that represents the best of the Trinity heritage.

His inaugural address concluded with an appeal to the broader Trinity community.

“Join us on this hopeful and hope-filled journey to Trinity’s future,” Dockery said. “We celebrate this new chapter in the life of the Trinity community by giving thanks together for the wonderful heritage that is ours. Please join with us, learn with us, pray with us, and walk with us in confident hope as we serve together in this place for the good of the Trinity community and ultimately for the glory of God.”

Former presidents H. Wilbert Norton, Ken Meyer and Greg Waybright participated in key aspects of the installation of the new president. Norton, who is 99-years-old, was president from 1957-64. The new Norton Welcome Center will be named in his honor.

“The spirit of the Lord is here,” Norton said. “May it convict us!”

Also delivering remarks were several evangelical presidents, including Phillip G. Ryken of Wheaton (Ill.) College, Frank Page of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and Gregory A. Thornbury of The King’s College in New York City.

Thornbury served in the leadership of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., where Dockery was president from 1996-2014. He watched as Dockery led the school to recovery after one of the worst natural disasters in the history of U.S. higher education — a tornado touchdown that did more than $40 million in damage to the campus.

“You are now on Dr. Dockery’s team,” Thornbury said. “And you will see amazing things happen.”

In all, 73 institutions were represented with delegates at the inauguration, and many more colleges and universities sent words of greeting and congratulations. There were 21 inauguration-related events, bringing guest artists and speakers to campus from across the country.

A few highlights of the week:

John M. Perkins, sometimes called the father of racial reconciliation among evangelicals, delivered one of three inaugural chapel messages. Perkins spoke from Psalms 23 and asked his listeners to answer a call to be agents of reconciliation in a lost and hurting world. “Justice is a stewardship issue,” Perkins said. “It’s how we steward God’s creation and our call is to deliberately not overlook the poor.”

During a “Prayer, Praise and Renewal” worship service, Fellowship Memphis Lead Pastor Bryan Loritts preached from Psalms 63 and described the mood of David following the king’s removal from the throne. “David said to God ‘nothing in this life satisfies but you, and my identity is to earnestly seek after you,'” Loritts said. “Will all who serve and study at Trinity reach that same conclusion David reaches?” Travis Cottrell, worship pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., led congregational hymn singing and also performed several solo selections.

Timothy George, founding dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, presented an inaugural chapel message from I Corinthians 13, asking his audience to think clearly about faith, hope and love from a biblical perspective. “Faith, hope and love come like a bridge over troubled waters, predicated on divine grace,” George said. “Pass it on unvarnished.”

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, moderated a panel discussion on a variety of topics, ranging from the future of evangelicalism to cultural engagement. His panel included Trinity faculty members such as Don Carson, Peter Cha and Paige Cunningham, as well as Pastor Tom Nelson, Loritts and George.

Cherie Harder, president of The Trinity Forum in Washington, D.C., delivered an inaugural chapel address focused on recapturing a sense of calling within the workplace. Her historical example was William Wilberforce, a British statesman who used his talents and relationships to slowly erode the foundations of slavery. She challenged Christians to move forward with the same resolve in modern times. “The more we invest in a Christ-centered community, the more we become the people God calls us to be,” Harder said.

Hymn composers and musical performers Keith and Kristyn Getty concluded their fall tour with a free concert to mark the start of inauguration week at Trinity. The couple and their band performed for two hours and hosted a separate Christian Music Symposium earlier in the day.

Trinity also dedicated two new renovations during the week.

The John and Susan Woodbridge Reading Room in the Rolfing Library features more than 200 books written by Trinity faculty members. It is named in honor of John Woodbridge, who has been a faculty member in the divinity school for 44 years.

There was also a dedication of the Henry Van Dixhorn Arena and Court, which provides upgrades to facilities for athletics and large convocations in the Meyer Athletics Center.
God has ‘last word’
in Middle East crisis
By Mark Kelly

KURDISTAN (Baptist Global Response) — Like young people everywhere, they were falling in love. Even in northern Iraq. Even though an extremist army was rampaging across the countryside.

In their conservative community, it was an old-fashioned love story. She was the daughter of neighbors. His furtive glance was met by a shy smile. Love notes were secretly exchanged. One family came calling on the other. Community holiday celebrations gave the pair a chance to spend time together.

Then the mortar shells start raining down on their neighborhood. Each family grabs what it can, and they run for their lives. The young couple are separated.

With no idea where she is — or even if she is alive — the young man is despondent. His joy has been replaced by deep sorrow. He has lost his hope of engagement and marriage. Now his family doesn’t even have the basic necessities for survival.

Abraham Shepherd, who directs Baptist Global Response work in the Middle East, met the young man as BGR partners conducted relief efforts among forcibly displaced families in northern Iraq.

“God allowed us to intersect this young man’s life, to nurture and coach him, to share with him many stories from God’s Word,” Shepherd said. “We had the privilege of telling him, ‘You are not alone. God loves you!'”

“He began helping us with our relief efforts. He works faithfully with one of the teams, not wanting any stipend. He just wants to please God,” Shepherd said. “I could see the changes in his facial expression. He had a joy in serving others. He began laughing without feeling guilty.

“And our faithful God rewarded him with his lost love!”

As the young man’s relief team made its way through one refugee camp, they approached a tent — and there was the neighbor family, including the young woman!

The families are taking no chances. Between them, they managed to collect enough money to buy a ring for the young couple’s engagement. 

“He showed the ring to me proudly. He wants me to meet her,” Shepherd said. “He now has hope that they will marry and we, who came from America to show God’s love, are invited to their wedding!

“Evil thought he had quenched that flame of love, but God has the last word on this story,” Shepherd said. “The evil of hate has shattered so many lives here, taking joy and replacing it with sorrow. We are privileged to be a tool in God’s hand as he once again brings joy, laughter, happiness, love and hope to people’s lives.”

The crisis in Iraq is compounding the humanitarian situation in neighboring countries, said Jeff Palmer, BGR’s executive director. Northern Iraq is now flooded with an additional 1.8 million displaced people, with the Kurdish region hosting 850,000 of them. While some local communities are meeting basic needs such as food and water, relief organizations worry they will reach a tipping point as winter sets in and resources are overstretched.

BGR has responded to needs mainly through national partners, typically providing basic “life line” needs such as food packets, infant formula, hygiene kits, medicines and blankets. In nine projects throughout the region, more than $2.2 million has been expended in the relief effort, while donations have totaled about $500,000.

“We’ve not seen anything like this in terms of man-made disaster, war, civil war in a long time, if ever,” Palmer said. “More refugees are coming, and resources won’t hold out.”

“Please pray for peace in this area. Pray that the Prince of Peace will come and rule in the hearts and minds of everyone in that region of the world,” Palmer added. “Pray that God’s love and God’s message would go out from all of those working through BGR to help in this terrible situation.”
Mark Kelly writes for Baptist Global Response. Learn how you can help people suffering in this crisis by visiting www.gobgr.org. You can donate $10 to BGR’s Disaster Response Fund by texting BGR to 80888.*
* $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Message and data rates may apply. Must have account holder permission to donate and premium texting unblocked. Terms: igfn.org/t Privacy Policy: igfn.org/p Text STOP to 80888 to stop; Text HELP to 80888 for help.
What’s with America’s
fascination with zombies?
By Bob Smietana

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (LifeWay Christian Resources) — Americans love zombies almost as much as they love watching football.

The season premiere of The Walking Dead drew 17.3 million viewers last week, finishing just behind Sunday Night Football as the most popular show on television, according to Variety magazine.

Another 6 million viewed the show on DVR. All told more than 23 million Americans tuned in for the latest episode of the zombie apocalypse on AMC.

And zombie popularity isn’t limited to television.

They star in video games from Left 4 Dead to Plants Versus Zombies, books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and movies like World War Z.

There are also zombie-themed 5k runs, zombie bike rides for charity, and even a national group called the “Zombie Outbreak Response Team,” which uses zombies to teach about preparedness.

In short, the supposed living dead are everywhere, says religious historian Kelly Baker, author of The Zombies are Coming. And they might have a lesson or two to teach us. Zombies, like most pop culture monsters, can help us understand our culture’s unspoken worries.

“Zombies are a way we can work out some of the things that makes us nervous,” says Baker.

Among those worries is a fear that modern life could easily unravel. Most of us take our political and social institutions—as well as necessities like clean water, power, and grocery stores full of food—for granted. But a natural disaster, a terrorist act, or civil unrest can disrupt all those things.

“They really are pretty fragile,” she says.

The current outbreak of Ebola in Africa—and a few cases in the U.S.—have added to the unrest about modern life. Along with the rational fears of the deadly disease, she says, there have been rumors of the undead.

“There was a hoax going around where people were claiming that Ebola victims in Africa were coming back from the dead,” says Baker.

Baker suspects the American fascination with the zombie apocalypse – and other end of the world scenarios—reveals an underlying distrust of our neighbors. In a zombie apocalypse, it’s everyone for themselves, she explains. And a friend can turn into a monster at a moment’s notice.

“Zombies show the nervousness we have about other people—that you can never be sure if your neighbor is with you or against you,” she says. “The idea that any moment someone could turn on you, says something about the cynicism of the early 21st century.”

Baker, a freelance writer who has a doctorate in religion from Florida State University, is writing a cultural history of zombies. She says zombies—unlike vampires, ghosts, and werewolves—are relatively new to American culture.

They first popped up in 1930s movies. In those early depictions, zombies were living people whose minds and bodies had been taken over by someone else. More modern zombies—the kind of lumbering undead found on The Walking Dead—trace their roots back to George Romero’s films of the 1960s. His 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, introduced zombies into mainstream pop culture.

Zombies are the latest example of American pop culture being fascinated by stories about doomsday.

There’s a whole “post apocalyptic” genre of movies, T.V. shows, and films like The Hunger Games trilogy, The Giver, and The Walking Dead—all of which feature the end of life as we know it.

Baker, who has taught classes on religious views of the apocalypse, says some of her former students seemed to look forward to the end the world—as if the modern world is so broken the only way to fix it is to wipe the slate clean and start over.

“The zombie apocalypse, my students assure me, would be awesome,” she says. “No rules, no government, and no infrastructure appeals to them. They ready themselves for the monsters by strategizing how to survive.”

She says many people look back with nostalgia at simpler times in American culture–before mass production—when everything was made by hand, and people grew their own food rather than buying it a local grocery store.

“I have all of these friends who are into canning—and I think, really?” she says. “There’s this idea that I need to know how to do this, just in case—and I think, ‘In case of what?’ How would jam save us?'”

There are some disturbing aspects to the pop culture obsession with zombies, says Baker.

“Zombie apocalypses have much to say about who counts as human and who doesn’t, which is something we should all pay attention to,” she says. Those who aren’t human—the zombies—can be dealt with violently, which raises ethical concerns.

She also says pastors can help church members work through their worries about modern life. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, she says.

“Maybe the focus should be on how to engage with an ever-changing, fearful world and to sort reality from fiction.”

Still, Baker, who might be the cheeriest zombie expert in America, believes there is an upside to the current American obsession with zombies—it gives people a safe way to examine their worries about modern life. And while they are preparing for a zombie apocalypse, people can also prepare for more mundane, yet likely, disasters.

“Zombies are scary but a lot less terrifying than other real-world possibilities,” she says. “So you can prep for a zombie apocalypse—and you might end up having the gear you need for a hurricane. But you don’t have to think about the hurricane.”

For now, Baker plans to focus on her writing and her family, and not worry too much about the zombie apocalypse. She’s watched enough zombie movies to know she wouldn’t last long.
Bob Smietana is senior writer and content editor for Facts & Trends.

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