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SBC DIGEST: Lifeway Women events resume; Anderson University adopts statement of faith; Baptist state editors meet

Nearly 20,000 women explore “Pursuing Christ Together” at Lifeway Women Live

By Rachel Sinclair/Lifeway

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – “As we pursue Christ together, we will conquer the trials and difficulties that come our way,” said Ruth Chou Simons, one of the speakers at the first in-person Lifeway Women Live event since 2019 on Saturday, April 17.

Pictured (left to right) Juliana Wilson (moderator), Jackie Hill Perry, Angie Wilsom, Kristi McLelland and Ruth Chou Simons. A panel of speakers answered questions submitted via social media that covered topics such as leadership, ministry, making disciples, rest, time with God and relying on the Holy Spirit. Photo by Kate Michaelsen

Nearly 20,000 participants across 49 states and nine countries livestreamed the event. At the spacious Long Hollow Baptist Church, located just outside Nashville, 375 women gathered in person.

After music from Austin Stone Worship and a welcome from author and emcee Angie Smith, Bible teacher Kristi McLelland took the stage.

McLelland, who has been guiding biblical study trips to Israel for 14 years, spoke about Jesus’ healing at the pool of Bethesda, painting a realistic picture of the story’s setting and cultural context. She emphasized Jesus’ question, “Do you want to get well?” and asked the audience to consider the same, inviting women to approach the day from a place of humility, expectation and desire to change.

Next, artist, entrepreneur and author Ruth Chou Simons spoke from Colossians about how being filled with the Word is foundational for encouraging other believers and pursuing unity.

“The number one thing the world needs to see is believers who are in love with Jesus,” Simons said. “Believers who have done the work in their private lives, behind closed doors, off of social media […] where they turn to the Word of God and say, ‘Lord, I’m desperate for you.’”

Simons said that harmony in the church, in the world, and in individual hearts begins with an all-consuming desire for God’s presence and His Word.

Following Simons, author and teacher Kelly Minter shared a countercultural call to submit to Jesus, His plans and His ways, even when it is difficult to understand.

“We want to create what we want to create, then we’ll add Jesus into it. But that’s not how this works,” she said. “He is the King of Kings and Lords of Lords. When we find Him in His narrative and follow Him in His story, according to His will and on His terms, that is when we find the abundant life.”

Rounding out the morning’s speakers was the GRAMMY-nominated and Dove Award-winning vocal group, Point of Grace. The trio performed several of their classic hits, including “Circle of Friends,” “How You Live (Turn Up the Music),” and “Keep the Candle Burning.”

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Anderson University adopts statement of faith

By Todd Deaton/Baptist Courier

ANDERSON, S.C. (BP) – The trustee board of Anderson University has adopted a religious doctrinal statement of faith expressing the institution’s South Carolina Baptist identity, convictions and its Christian belief system.

“Throughout the process, the [Faith Statement Development] team sought the Lord’s guidance and wisdom and has worked diligently to make certain that nothing in the statement is in conflict with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” said Ed Carney, team chairman, in recommending the statement for approval by the Board of Trust.

“The team believes the statement contains all the elements that are needed for a statement of this type, that it makes clear that Anderson is a conservative Christian university fostered by the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and that our religion is consistent with evangelical Christian values, with historic Christian creeds and with South Carolina Baptist distinctives,” the recommendation said.

The adoption of a faith statement by Anderson’s trustees is significant in two ways, according to the university’s president, Evans Whitaker.

“First, it is in agreement with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, yet it is Anderson University’s very own articulation of the essential doctrines as well as denominational perspectives of our Christian faith,” he said, adding: “It is the standard by which we seek to live out our faith and values as a Christian academic community. It is the faith we recommend to our students and all those we love.

“Second, it is our rightful expression under the Constitution and amendments of the United States of America of what the founders, trustees and officers of the university have freely chosen by religious conviction to embody and practice as the university’s corporate/community faith.

“It joyfully tells the story of who and whose we are and intend to be.”

A preamble to the faith statement reads, in part: “The university’s faculty and staff are confessing Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and agree annually to respect and undergird the university’s faith statement as they carry out their university responsibilities.”

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Southern Baptist editors hold virtual annual meeting

By Margaret Colson

Emerging from more than a year of communications challenges and innovations as a result of the global pandemic, leaders of Southern Baptist media outlets gathered April 19 for the 2021 annual meeting of the Association of State Baptist Publications.

During the meeting, held virtually for the first time in ASBP’s 125-year history, members discussed the past, present and future of the historic organization. Led by 2020–2021 ASBP President Jennifer Davis Rash, editor-in-chief of The Alabama Baptist, participants voted to appoint a study committee to review the organization’s purpose and develop a proposal for how that purpose can best be realized in today’s changing communications landscape.

In her role as immediate past president, Rash will serve as a resource for the study committee, which will be named in the coming days by incoming ASBP President Brian Hobbs, editor of Oklahoma’s The Baptist Messenger.

“What an important role this family of peers from across the nation plays in my life and in the lives of a majority of the membership,” Rash said. “Leading the group during the pandemic wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was not being able to visit with them in person.

“Our roles vary from state to state and entity to entity, but we all serve in some form of Baptist media, and the work we do intersects from time to time,” she said. “We share ideas and help keep each other sharp, and we know we have a group of peers available to process information, decisions, obstacles and sometimes other life issues.

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