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LifeWay uses Internet to help churches on Sept. 11 anniversary

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks last year, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention scrambled to provide information that church leaders needed to minister in a whole new world.

Within hours, the Southern Baptist publishing entity used the Internet to post information, a call to prayer, crisis-related lessons and books addressing the subject.

Now, a year later, LifeWay is returning to the Internet to further help people as they cope and plan to commemorate the 9/11 tragedy with a new website, www.lifeway.com/unitedsunday, joining a previously announced North American Mission Board website, “Hope Remembering 9-11,” at www.namb.net/911.

The LifeWay website, which went live Aug. 1, is designed to offer churches online helps as they plan worship services marking the anniversary of the attacks on America.

Resources include downloadable sermon and worship helps and community outreach options. The website also features information and resources to complement “United Through it All,” a patriotic anthem of hope written by Randall Bayne, Michael Allen and Steve Mauldin and published by LifeWay.

Additionally, Broadman & Holman, LifeWay’s trade publishing division, is producing a special bulletin cover designed by artist Ron DiCianni. The artwork, “No Greater Love,” is of firefighters, police officers and medical personnel, and it honors their service to America. The covers are available at LifeWay Christian Stores.

“We just see it bubbling up,” Jim Johnston, managing director of LifeWay’s publishing services and multimedia area, said of the interest churches are showing in planning special Sept. 11 services. “It’s a huge need of churches.

“Churches want to do something special for not only their own members, but for people who are outside and may be coming into the church seeking answers. We want to be a resource to help them realize the big dream of having really special, moving services on both Sept. 8 and 11.”

Content on the website will be continually updated, Johnston said, as more resources and ideas become available. Additions, such as drama ideas and helps for Bible study or Sunday School lessons, already have been included among the links.

“A lot of churches won’t take everything we have on the website and implement it, but we hope it will be an idea starter for them — a place where they can start to develop ideas for what they want to do on those days,” Johnston said.

“We think there are probably going to be some people who are seekers who will go to church on Sept. 8, and we want to provide something for churches to do community outreach,” he added. “What we know is that Sept. 8, the Sunday, and Sept. 11, the Wednesday, are going to be red-letter days in our country and in the lives of the people.”

In the days and weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks, LifeWay sought to find a way to minister to a world defined by terror, fear and anger, far from the biblical ideal of peace, said LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr.

“When I was elected president of LifeWay 11 years ago, we were convinced it took four to five years to plan and prepare curriculum materials for the churches,” he said in his June 11 report to the Southern Baptist Convention. “On Sept. 11, we realized just how much technology had changed that.”

Within hours of the attacks, LifeWay had posted photos, text and a call to prayer on its website. Crisis-related Bible study lesson plans followed and were downloaded more than 218,000 times and viewed 6,300 more times online.

Facts & Trends, LifeWay’s newsmagazine for Southern Baptist pastors, staff and denominational leaders, responded by publishing articles to help pastors and church staff minister to those dealing with insecurity and fear.

Print and musical resources followed, with “United Through It All” coming to the forefront as a commemorative anthem. Articles appearing on LifeWay.com, and various LifeWay publications, such as “ParentLife,” “SSLeader” and “Caregiving” provided information on helping children and adults deal with trauma and experience forgiveness.

Broadman & Holman responded to the tragedy immediately by distributing 10,000 “Here’s Hope New Testaments” to New York City residents through local Baptists and releasing two books, “Why Was America Attacked” by D. James Kennedy and “What You Need to Know About Islam and Muslims” by George W. Braswell. The first two chapters of Kennedy’s book were available through Lifeway.com as a download.

By November 2001, B&H had produced a custom version of “A Passage Through Grief: A Recovery Guide” by Barbara Baumgardner, an interactive guide to grief counseling. Baumgardner produced a leader’s guide to accompany the book, both of which were distributed electronically to the Salvation Army, the North American Mission Board and SBC associational counselors in New York. Approximately 10,000 copies of the custom edition of the book were given to New York residents.

The United Sunday website and other LifeWay resources have provided an important service and resource to Christians following the Sept. 11 tragedies, Draper said.

“It is important for LifeWay to provide resources that every church can access,” he said. “We must appropriately remember the events of Sept. 11 and move past a simply patriotic fervor to a real drawing near to God.”

Draper said many churches don’t have the financial resources to produce their own presentations and materials, making the Lifeway.com website even more valuable to them.

“What we have posted will open up wonderfully creative and effective resources to every church,” Draper said. “These resources will blend our need for patriotism, but also the necessity of prayer, repentance and calling on our nation to return to God.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at https://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SEPT. 11 BULLETIN.

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  • Mandy Crow