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ERLC trustees ask SBC messengers just say no to Disney visit in 2000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptists attending the convention’s annual meeting next year in Orlando are being asked to avoid the area’s Disney theme parks.
Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission urged messengers “to support our Convention’s boycott of the Disney corporation’s theme parks” in a resolution adopted during their Sept. 14-15 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
Trustees acknowledged the proximity of the 2000 convention site might make it tempting for some convention-goers and their families to make the short drive down the interstate to the Magic Kingdom and other Disney attractions. In adopted their resolution on Disney, they noted that the 1997 SBC resolution calling for a boycott of the entertainment giant has not been rescinded. Messengers to the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas called for a boycott of The Disney Company and its subsidiaries in a resolution on moral stewardship.
ERLC President Richard Land, in his address to the trustees, said there has never been a time of greater moral crisis than what America faces today. The church faces a “daunting task” in bringing the hope that Christ embodies to those in the culture who while living in a time of material prosperity are without spiritual hope.
“There has never been a time when our nation needed Southern Baptists to be what God has called them to be any more than today,” Land stated, saying too often the command in Deuteronomy to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” is forgotten.
And he said it is the mission of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to take the precepts of Scripture and place them up against the issues of modern society to aid Southern Baptists in living out their faith. “It is our privilege to help them understand all of the moral and ethical obligations and implications of the gospel, to understand the full-orbed meaning of what it means to be salt and light,” Land said.
“We do have the answer,” he continued. “We have the Light that can light the world.”
Central Florida pastor Charles Roesel was selected by the trustees as the recipient of the commission’s annual Distinguished Service Award. Roesel, pastor of First Baptist Church, Leesburg, shepherds a congregation that offers “a tremendous ministry of gospel salt and light to their community,” Land said.
Roesel’s concept of “meeting needs and sharing Christ” brings together a strong evangelistic thrust packaged within a wide range of services to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of less-fortunate Leesburg citizens. “Charles Roesel is one of the best practitioners of the kind of ministry the ERLC is calling Christians to do,” Land said.
Last year’s recipient was given posthumously to A.J. Barton, head of the forerunner SBC group to the ERLC, the Social Service Commission, from 1914 until his death in 1942.
The ERLC board of trustees gave approval for the agency’s public policy newsletter, Salt, to be transformed into an “electronic-broadcast fax” document named E-Salt. Now bi-monthly and delivered via the postal service, the publication will be published monthly and be distributed via electronic mail and facsimile machine.
“The technology has overtaken us,” Land told the trustees, indicating the new format and mode of delivery will bring cost savings and provide more timely information to subscribers. He said the change will allow the agency “to fulfill the original intent of Salt” — to communicate news on pending legislation and the culture to Southern Baptists quickly.
Trustees voted to move forward with the establishment of a research institute whose members are expected to advise and assist the ERLC in its ministry to equip Southern Baptists in the areas of morality, public policy and religious liberty. Members of the institute are expected to aid ERLC staffers in producing “scholarly, yet practical” materials, according to trustees, expressing an interest as well for a continuation of products that are “popularly written.”
The institute will allow an opportunity for “thoughtful research” on cultural and moral matters, noted Tulsa, Okla., trustee David Willets. “We will have some of the best minds on this blue ribbon panel thoughtfully and prayerfully considering positions on the issues,” he continued.
Founding members of the institute include Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and SBC president; R. Allbert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; David Dockery, president of Union University; Timothy George, dean of the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University; L. Russ Bush, academic vice president at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Daniel Akin, vice president for academic administration at Southern Seminary; Steve Lemke, vice president for academic affairs at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; C. Ben Mitchell, assistant professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; and Don Buckley, a Pensacola, Fla., physician.
In other trustee action:
Trustees selected Barrett Duke to fill the new position of vice president of research and director of the ERLC’s new research institute. Duke formerly served the commission as director of denominational relations, conferences and seminars. Likewise Harold Harper was tapped by the trustees as vice president for broadcast communications, formerly serving as director of broadcasting for the ERLC, and Dwayne Hastings as vice president of marketing and information, formerly director of communications for the ERLC.
Bobby Reed was introduced as director of administration for the ERLC. Reed, currently on staff at Temple Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla., will assume the newly created position Oct. 1.
Michael Hand, staff member at First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., was appointed to fill the remainder of the term of trustee Joel Sherrer, who is moving to New Orleans.
Ben Wilkes of Jackson, Tenn., was elected by the board to serve as chairman; Dale Wallace of Birmingham, Ala., as vice chairman; and South Carolinian Al Phillips as the board’s recording secretary.

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  • Dwayne Hastings