News Articles

FROM THE STATES: Ala., Fla., Ky. evangelism/missions news; ‘… We expect every member to find a way to serve’

Today’s From the States features items from:
The Alabama Baptist
Florida Baptist Witness
Western Recorder (Kentucky)

AL church launches Major
Missions Projects initiative
By Carrie Brown McWhorter

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) — From Alabama to Maine, Asia and Africa, Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham is expanding its missions reach further than ever in an effort to raise up a new generation of missions volunteers.

At a business meeting Oct. 5 the church voted unanimously to accept the Major Missions Projects plan, a five-year missions strategy consisting of five projects that will require roughly $5 million.

Plans for the Major Missions Projects initiative have been in the works for several months, according to Ben Hale, evangelism and missions pastor at Dawson. In fact the idea for a missions campaign in addition to the church’s regular Cooperative Program (CP) giving has been around since 2007, though plans for the newly adopted program began in earnest about two years ago.

“The missions (committee) began to discuss specific ideas about how the church might be challenged to go over, above and beyond for missions, which led to the Major Missions Projects,” Hale said.

Acts 1:8 strategy

The five projects fit within the church’s Acts 1:8 missions strategy. To reach the local community, Dawson will create a ministry center to meet physical and spiritual needs in Birmingham.

Dawson also will partner with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Maine Baptist Association to plant at least five new churches and provide training for existing churches and ministries in Maine, which is considered one of the least Christian states in the United States, according to a Gallup poll taken earlier this year.

The remaining three projects will involve partnerships with International Mission Board (IMB) representatives. In North Africa, Dawson will assist Baptist missionaries in their efforts to plant churches and disciple believers. In Tanzania, Dawson will construct and equip a pediatric wing for the Kigoma Baptist Hospital and send medical teams to help at the hospital. A second building project will provide funds for construction at a Baptist hospital and a middle school in Southeast Asia.

In selecting the projects the Dawson missions team considered the church’s vision statement, the church’s people and financial resources and existing relationships with IMB and NAMB representatives, Hale said.

The projects will supplement CP efforts and will be fully funded by offerings and pledges given in addition to regular tithes and offerings. Supporters will fund the missions campaign between January 2015 and May 2018 but the projects will begin according to finances and needs, Hale said. He added that no debt will be incurred to support the projects.

Michael Lytle, a deacon at Dawson and chairman of the church’s finance committee, said the process has truly been a team effort. He added that the unanimous approval of the projects reflects church members’ excitement about the plan.

“The plan was really born out of (the vision) to take missions into every level of our congregation, as well as around the world,” Lytle said. “Whether someone can give an hour, a week or a month, drive across the street or fly around the world, we want everyone to be able to get involved.”

One of the goals for the projects is to be good stewards of the financial resources God has provided and to involve the Dawson church family in missions, according to Pastor Gary Fenton.

“Dawson is not a good spectator church, in that we expect every member to find a way to serve,” Fenton said. “We seek to provide strategies that give people an opportunity to do the will of God through local and international missions.”

In the past Dawson members have participated in short- and long-term missions projects in Birmingham and other places around the nation and world, Fenton said. The Major Missions Projects is a way to further engage church members in the Great Commission, he said.

“We are seeking to teach that doing missions is a Christian moral imperative and intentionally teaching that missions is not doing good for God, but the inevitable response of a person who has received God’s grace,” Fenton said.

The Major Missions Projects initiative will stretch the Dawson church family in both giving and volunteering, Fenton said, especially since the church does not plan to reduce any of its ongoing missions and ministry projects. Fenton calls the plan a “risk-taking adventure with God.”

“The church is not naïve about this. We are fully aware that we cannot do this but that God can,” he said. “I think this is the most exciting chapter in the church’s history.”
This article appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Carrie Brown McWhorter is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist.
More than 600 walk the aisles at
Calvary Baptist in Clearwater, FL
By Keila Diaz

CLEARWATER, Fla. (Florida Baptist Witness) — Unfortunately, it’s not every week that a church invitation makes news. But that happened recently at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.

About a month ago, more than 600 people came forward at the end of services preached by senior pastor Willy Rice. A week later, more than 100 of those people were baptized.

“It was a very intentional effort that went back to the spring,” said Rice, who came to Calvary Baptist about 10 years ago after serving at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola.

Rice says he read an article in the Florida Baptist Witness about the late Forrest Pollock from Bell Shoals Baptist in Brandon baptizing hundreds of people at one time.

“I had never heard of something like that being done before, so I got in touch with the pastor there,” he said.

What Rice learned was that Pollock would devote some Sundays to preach exclusively on baptism. After the sermon on what it meant to be baptized, there would be an invitation and the response was often overwhelming.

Rice implemented a similar approach at Calvary with similar results, and then wondered if the approach would work with membership.

After conducting surveys of the Calvary congregation, Rice noticed that there was a significant gap in the number of people who attended Sunday worship and served in ministries, and the official membership count. While membership at Calvary is required to lead a ministry and teach a class, it is not required to belong to a ministry.

The church reported average attendance of 2,696 in its 2012 church year and 3,478 for its 2013 church year, according to data in the Annual Church Profile collected by the Florida Baptist Convention.

“What I did was take the membership classes and interwove them [into] a Sunday morning series,” said Rice.

That series lasted four weeks and covered what it meant to be a member and how to become one.

“The last week of that we had invitation cards inside the worship cards,” said Rice. At the end of the morning services everyone who wanted to become a member was invited to place those cards in bins at the front of the church.

“The aisles were flooded with people,” he said.

Rice says they were not expecting so many people to answer that call, and it is a testimony to what God can do.

“For our area, I have never heard about anything like that happening,” said Ervin L. McWilson Sr., director of the Suncoast Baptist Association. “I’m very excited to hear that he would take the time to prepare a sermon [about membership] for people to understand what belonging to a group means and extending that opportunity.”
This article appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness (gofbw.com), newsjournal of the Florida Baptist Convention. Keila Diaz is a reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness.
KY Baptists minister
to Filipino brethren
By Debbie Davenport

BOSTON, Ky. (Western Recorder) — A team of Kentucky Baptists brought healing and hope to hundreds of Filipinos still recovering from Typhoon Pablo, a devastating storm that struck the island nation two years ago.

The six-member team, including members of Rolling Fork Baptist Church in Boston, provided medical exams and treatment to nearly 900 people in the Philippines between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2. They also held several worship services and led two pastors’ conferences.

Rolling Fork pastor Bruce Nichols said much work remains for the people trying to rebuild.

“Some of the areas still are wiped out,” he said. “It will take time. They’ll just have to work at it a little at a time.”

Typhoon Pablo was a Category 5 super typhoon with sustained winds reaching 175 mph.

Some 1,900 people died as the December 2012 storm wiped out bridges, caused mudslides, flattened entire villages, and left thousands homeless.

Despite the slow recovery, Nichols said Filipinos seemed resilient.

At the hard-hit Cateel Southern Baptist Church where only the tile floor remains where the pulpit once stood, local church members worship under a makeshift pavilion.

They hope to raise enough money for a new building soon. Nichols, having completed his fourth trip to the region, said he again was struck by the faithfulness of the Baptist islanders.

“In Cateel, the congregation has next to nothing in terms of resources,” he said, “but they have such energetic worship. Even in the areas where the persecution is, they’re still standing firm in the faith.”

Nichols said the ones serving on the mission trip, especially the first-timers, always return home forever changed by the experience.

“They realize all the things we take for granted (in the United States),” he said, and many come home with a different perspective after seeing how people live in other parts of the world.

Eric Allen, missions mobilization team leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said short-term missions always proves to be eye-opening for Americans.

“I can’t encourage these kinds of short-term mission trips strongly enough,” Allen said. “In every instance, they benefit our churches as much as they benefit the people they’re reaching out to. I appreciate that Rolling Fork and Redeemer Fellowship are so willing to reach out with the gospel in their local communities as well as to the uttermost part of the world.”

Nichols said the mission trip has made him grateful as well. He expressed thanks for Kentucky Baptists’ prayers and financial support.

“Most of all, I am very thankful that God would use people like us to carry out a mission as big as this one was,” Nichols said.
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Debbie Davenport writes for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
EDITOR’S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board’s call to embrace the world’s 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board’s call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.

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