Grant helps NOBTS meet COVID guidelines
By Marilyn Stewart
NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s counseling and child education centers received a $20,000 Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) emergency funding grant to offset the costs of implementing COVID-19 health and sanitation guidelines.
The funds will benefit the Leeke Magee Counseling Center and the Danielson Early Learning Center at NOBTS, which provide affordable counseling services and child education services to the underserved in the Greater New Orleans area.
“Several of our community families had been without childcare of any kind since March which impacted their ability and availability to work outside the home,” said Pattie Shoener, NOBTS vice president of business affairs. “Parents were grateful to have a safe, reliable, trusted Early Learning Center to which they could bring their children.”
Parents responded promptly on the first day of the Danielson Center’s re-opening, filling it to near capacity, Shoener said, adding that the Leeke Magee Counseling Center has continued to provide “very vital support” at a time when many have experienced financial stress, uncertainty, and a sense of isolation.
“BCM has reached out to help us help our community by serving their children and helping their mental health in such a way that they truly feel like partners in reaching out to better our community,” Shoener said.
SWBTS virtual preaching conference advocates sermon-based small groups
By Alex Sibley
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — A virtual preaching conference hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Center for Church Revitalization Aug. 20 advocated and explained the use of sermon-based small groups in church revitalization. In such a model, a church’s small groups and Sunday School classes focus on discussing the pastor’s Sunday morning sermon.
“Sixty-eight percent of our congregations are biblically illiterate, and so giving them 35-40 minutes on Sunday morning of your text is not enough,” said Kenneth Priest, interim director of the Center for Church Revitalization. “Revitalization requires us to dig deeper into the Word of God.”
The conference speakers – including Priest, Professor of Preaching Matthew McKellar, and Alan Stoddard, lead pastor of Calvary Ruidoso in Ruidoso, N.M. – emphasized the need for both text-driven preaching as well as follow-up discussion of the sermon or, more specifically, the text of Scripture on which the sermon is based, in order to help church members more fully understand the Word of God.
Priest, who also serves as director of convention strategies for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said the most effective way to facilitate such discussion is through small groups, noting that such a model is derived from Nehemiah 8. In that passage, Ezra reads the law to the Israelites, and then the Levites divide the people into smaller groups, “translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read” (v. 8).