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SBC DIGEST: Georgia baptisms increase by 30%; SEBTS Exploring Personhood Conference

Baptism count in Georgia churches surpasses 20,000 for first time since 2017

By Roger Alford/Christian Index

SUWANEE, Ga. (BP) – An annual count of baptisms in Georgia Baptist churches has surpassed 20,000 for the first time since 2017.

Pastor Josh Price baptizes a new believer at Fortified Hills Baptist Church in Dallas, Ga., on Sept. 3, 2023. Photo by Henry Durand/Index

Steve Foster, a Georgia Baptist Mission Board evangelism consultant, said the total as of Friday morning reached 20,280, just 13 short of the 20,293 reported six years ago.

The numbers are expected to continue to grow as more congregations complete what’s known as the “Annual Church Profile,” an annual census of Southern Baptist churches.

“The major factor in our state having such a dramatic increase in baptisms is that more of our churches have an intentionality and focus in sharing the Gospel through personal evangelism, event evangelism, and by creating a culture of inviting people to church where the preaching of the Gospel changes lives,” Foster said Friday. “God is blessing the sowing of Gospel seeds across Georgia.”

The numbers released Friday represent a more than 30% increase over the past year and a more than 90% increase since 2020.

Georgia Baptist leaders are hopeful that a pair of evangelism conferences will further ramp up excitement about spreading the gospel. The first of those conferences is set for Sunday and Monday at First Baptist Church in Conyers. A second one is scheduled for March 10-11 at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton.

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Exploring Personhood Conference at SEBTS addresses challenges to humanity

By Chad Burchett/SEBTS

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – Created in God’s image, humanity was made for flourishing and relationship with Him. However, in our cultures and in our own lives, we see confusion about what it means to be human, and we encounter challenges to living faithfully before God in this world.

Addressing these challenges, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture (CFC) hosted its annual Exploring Personhood Conference on February 21-22, concluding its three-year series, Being Human: Theology and Praxis. This three-year series was made possible by a $1.53 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, enabling the CFC to host annual conferences, forums, workshops, and residencies designed to equip students, leaders, and lay people to approach anthropology from a biblical perspective.

This week’s conference featured presentations from a variety of Christian speakers on challenging topics related to anthropology, helping attendees develop a biblical framework on these issues and offering implications for faithful ministry. Topics and speakers included:

  • “Who Will We Become? The Promise and Peril of Transhumanism” by Fuz Rana, president, CEO and senior scholar at Reasons to Believe
  • “A Christian Approach to Healing the Racial Divide” by George Yancey, professor of sociology at Baylor University
  • “The Dead, the Living, and the Yet to be Born: Tradition and American Nationality” by John Wilsey, associate professor of church history and philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • “Meaning-Making, Suffering, and Human Flourishing” by Liz Hall, professor of psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
  • An evaluative response by Jacob Shatzer, associate professor of theological studies at Union University

Attendees also engaged with speakers during Thursday’s panel discussion and got to sit in on Praveen Sethupathy’s and Molly Worthen’s live podcast recording entitled, “Science and the Journey to Faith” (a dialogue about Worthen’s conversion story). The conference concluded with a final charge from Ken Keathley, senior professor of theology and director of the CFC — a charge to continue these conversations and engage neighbors with what the Bible teaches about humanity.

“I hope that all of us will take out of this conference the commitment to demonstrate the kingdom of God in whatever venue or vocation the Lord has given us,” Keathley said. “These conversations remind us that we need to be more conscious and proactive about opportunities to share our faith.”

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