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SBC DIGEST: Business conf. at GuideStone; photo conf. at SWBTS

Church, ministry business conference slated March 14-16

By Roy Hayhurst

DALLAS (BP) — Church and ministry business leaders from across the Southern Baptist Convention will gather at GuideStone Financial Resources from March 14–16 to learn the latest information on employment law and issues relating to tax and compliance and health care reform.

The annual Southern Baptist Business Officers Conference is attended by business officers as well as a range of support and administrative personnel from Southern Baptist churches, institutions, conventions, foundations and educational institutions.

Following the conference, GuideStone is offering a free two-day training for employer retirement plan administrators and human resources personnel to assist in their day-to-day administration of GuideStone retirement plans.

“We’ve worked diligently to make this the go-to event for business administrators for churches and ministries across the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Joel Rister, GuideStone’s director of denominational business services. “We are aware of no other conference that covers the variety of topics that affect business administrators’ daily work.”

This year’s conference speakers include:

— Richard Hammar, a noted CPA and attorney with expertise in church and ministers’ tax issues.

— Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability who will relay important Washington updates.

— John Dickerson, author of “The Great Evangelical Recession” who will speak on key factors that American churches should prepare for in a transitioning culture.

— Scott Couchenour, an executive coach who will offer practical steps for attendees to grow in their ministry.

— J. Michael Godfrey, founder and president of True Course, a mentoring, coaching and consulting service aimed at leaders of nonprofit organizations.

— Ty Yokum, a management consultant with Chick-fil-A who will speak on leadership.

Additionally, several GuideStone staff will address such topics as human resources, retirement plans and health care reform.

Many attendees come back annually for the sessions, which offer practical insights.

“As ministry leaders, we each have a responsibility to provide wise counsel and guidance to the ministry organizations that God has called us to serve,” said William Townes, vice president for convention finance at the SBC Executive Committee.

“In addition to relevant updates from GuideStone’s knowledgeable professionals, the Southern Baptist Business Officers Conference provides opportunities to personally interact with a wide array of other nonprofit industry leaders,” Townes said. “Besides learning from these recognized experts, occasions to fellowship and network with my peers has helped me learn novel and creative ways to respond to the challenges that we all face.”

Registration is still open for the meeting at GuideStone’s offices in Dallas. Cost is $150, which includes all conference sessions, course materials, dinner on Monday night, breakfast and lunch on Tuesday and breakfast on Wednesday. Registration information is available at www.sbboc.com.

Continuing education credit for select conference sessions is available for CFP, CPA, CCA, CCBA or PHR/SPHR certifications or designations.

Photo conference to display ‘amazing’ work of God’

By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — For decades, a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle walked out of his office and prayed that God would guide him to what he should show people in the next day’s newspaper.

“Lead me to that place, that moment, that person, that subject,” he would pray, keeping his eyes open for the photos God wanted him to take and the stories He wanted him to share.

Jim Veneman, a friend of this photographer who lectures on photojournalism in schools across the country, often shares this anecdote, noting that Christians must always be prepared for the moment to which God leads them. Unfortunately, he said, feelings of trepidation regarding where God might lead them often prevent people from praying such an open-ended prayer.

Veneman, citing the John 6 account of Jesus and His disciples feeding a crowd of 5,000, noted that when the disciples felt unprepared for the moment to which God had brought them, Jesus simply told them to sit down. After they did, Jesus miraculously multiplied the five loaves and two fish that were available and fed the entire crowd.

Veneman said the message is clear: “Just sit down, and Jesus will show you something amazing.”

Veneman described this month’s Southwestern Photojournalism Conference as such an opportunity to “sit down.”

“If we just listen and watch and ask to see and be shown, I think God will show us amazing things that we never would have seen otherwise,” Veneman said. “During this event, we have an opportunity to sit down, and that is when, I believe, God says, ‘Okay. I have something to show you.'”

The Feb. 26-28 conference, hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has been held annually since 1993. Its heartbeat has remained the same: a passion for spreading the message of Christ through visual storytelling. All who share this passion are welcome to attend.

“The conference is designed to challenge those attending on several levels — spiritually, personally and professionally,” said Veneman, one of the conference’s organizers and a 1984 Southwestern master of arts in communications graduate. “Those attending gain insights on using images to visually communicate both the presence of God and the need for God in today’s world.”

In addition to the main sessions, which feature such prolific photographers as Brad Smith and Stacy Pearsall, the conference includes multiple workshops, including a new track for mission trip photography to help equip photographers to tell the stories of their mission experiences, whether overseas or down the street from their local church.

“We’ll give them a good number of ideas about how to cover trips like that,” Veneman said, “not just photographically, but also from a video perspective and a written perspective.” These stories can then be shared not only with one’s local church, but perhaps through community and state publications as well.

Prior to the conference, a student workshop will provide a hands-on immersive experience for collegians to shoot an assignment in the DFW area under the supervision of a professional photographer, such as one of the conference speakers. The assignments will be critiqued, with coaches offering suggestions for improvement.

Whether one is an aspiring photographer seeking advice for how to effectively tell God’s story or a seasoned professional simply looking for a recharge, Veneman said the conference will equip everyone to take “that next step.”

“One of the huge benefits of this conference,” he said, “is that it gives you the courage to pray that prayer, ‘God, just show me what You want me to see. What is that story You want me to tell? Take me anywhere You want me to go.'”

To learn more about the conference, including how to register, visit swpjc.org.

    About the Author

  • GuideStone & Southwestern Seminary Staff

    Roy Hayhurst is department head of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Alex Sibley is the senior writer/copy editor for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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