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SBC DIGEST: J. Robert White to lead Ga. Baptist health care foundation; Baptist Global Response releases 2018 gift catalog

J. Robert White to lead Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation

DULUTH, Ga. (BP) — J. Robert White has been named as president and CEO of the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation, which was created with a $125-million endowment from proceeds after the sale of the former Georgia Baptist Health Care System’s hospitals and other assets in the mid-2000s.

White will retire Dec. 31 after 26 years as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. He assumes his new post Jan. 1, succeeding Will Bacon, who retired earlier this year.

White played a key role in creating the foundation, described as a “hospital without walls,” awarding more than $45 million in 600-plus grants to tax-exempt nonprofit organizations in Georgia that support “the health of people and their communities,” according to the GBHCMF website.

Grants ranging from $10,000 to $125,000 have supported such health care initiatives as a mobile ultrasound for Georgia’s Columbus Baptist Association and medical and dental services of the Appalachee Baptist Association.

By the foundation’s count, its grants have supported more than 65,000 volunteers ministering to nearly 3.5 million people and recording more than 17,000 professions of faith in Christ.

The foundation also provided a $25-million gift in 2015 to eliminate the debt on the Atlanta-area Georgia Baptist Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth.

The foundation’s presidential search team unanimously elected White as president and CEO during an Oct. 12 meeting in Stone Mountain.

Search team chairman Grady Caldwell, pastor of New Mercy Baptist Church in Griffin, told The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, “God’s providence is amazing. We believe God has equipped Dr. White with too many gifts and talents to allow them to go unused for His Kingdom.”

Caldwell said no one is “more qualified, more knowledgeable, more committed to the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation than the one God used in such a strategic way at its inception back in 2006. We are so thankful to God that Dr. White has accepted our offer to lead us. He brings to us the same level of commitment he has used for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, and we are excited about our direction for the future under his leadership.”

The sale of the former Georgia Baptist Health Care System was prompted by increasing costs and liability issues common to hospitals across the country in the mid-1990s, according to The Index. At the most active point in its history, the Baptist health system encompassed six hospitals; four skilled nursing facilities; emergency trauma, coronary, surgical, neonatal intensive care and fitness facilities; and assisted living residences. The system dated back to an infirmary opened in 1901 by Tabernacle Baptist Church in downtown Atlanta.

White, in accepting the foundation’s presidency, stated, “One of the greatest joys I have had in my position has been serving on the Georgia Baptist Health Care System Board. I was amazed at the ministry of our hospitals, but when operating the hospitals became impossible for us financially, I asked for [a retreat by the board] where through prayer the decision was made to begin the Georgia Baptist Heath Care Ministry Foundation.

“Now, 12 years after the foundation was begun we have seen amazing growth in resources and the distribution of over $45 million in grants to healing ministries. Without a doubt, God was in this from the beginning.”

White said he looks forward to “all the wondrous things God will do through this ministry in the years ahead. As far as I know, Georgia Baptists have been singularly blessed to have such a foundation, and we need to give Him the glory and rejoice every day over this unique opportunity to bless people and share Jesus.”


Baptist Global Response suggests 5 ways to use 2018 gift catalog

NASHVILLE (BP) — Baptist Global Response is preparing Southern Baptists for the giving season with a new issue of its Christmas Gift Catalog.

The community development and disaster relief organization releases a catalog every holiday season, encouraging supporters to donate items like pigs, blankets, medical clinic supplies and tarps as Christmas gifts in honor of their loved ones.

This year, BGR is suggesting creative ways donors can pair catalog items with personal gifts to make Christmas special for family and friends.

1. Give an animal from the gift catalog + a stuffed animal.

A donor can “purchase” a pair of rabbits in honor of a young child and combine the gift with a stuffed bunny. Just like toy animals bring comfort to children, real animals bring security and income to families in need. The stuffed animal can be a daily reminder of the family helped by the donated rabbits.

2. Give a blanket for refugees + a blanket for your loved one.

Parents may buy soft blankets for their children and, through the catalog, for refugees. In the cold winter months, displaced people find it especially difficult to stay warm in camps, with children and the elderly most at risk. When children snuggle under the blankets they receive for Christmas, they’ll remember to pray for refugees in need of warmth.

3. Support a safe place for a victim of human trafficking + jewelry.

A husband can give a piece of jewelry to his wife as a reminder of the millions of men, women and children trapped in human trafficking for whom assistance is listed in the BGR catalog. The jewelry will encourage her to pray for their rescue and restoration.

4. Give a personal care kit + lotion or perfume.

Personal care kits are used after disasters or in refugee camps. They can include items such as toothpaste, soap and lotion. Personal gifts of perfume or lotion, meanwhile, will remind family and friends to pray for individuals receiving the care kits after tragedy.

5. Give 10 fish + a fishing rod.

Donors can pair the gift of 10 fish through the catalog with a new fishing rod. As the old saying goes, “Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” Each time a loved one uses the fishing rod, they remember that somewhere in the world families are earning income from fish donated in their honor.

Individuals and churches interested in the 2018 BGR Christmas Gift Catalog can find it online at www.gobgr.org/catalog or request free copies by calling the BGR office at 866-974-5623. People also can download or request holiday cards to give loved ones for whom they’ve donated items.

Baptist Global Response is an international disaster relief and community development organization helping people in need. BGR undergirds the work of Southern Baptists worldwide and partners with others who are likeminded. Baptist Global Response is not an official entity of the Southern Baptist Convention but is committed to helping Southern Baptists connect with people in need around the world.

    About the Author

  • Christian Index, BGR & BP Staff

    Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by Gerald Harris of The Christian Index of the Georgia Baptist Convention and Casey Watson of Baptist Global Response.

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