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SBC DIGEST: Luter to lead New Orleans walking tour; Send Network Louisiana coming; NOBTS executive committee meets

Pastors Luter, Cross to lead early morning walking tour of New Orleans

By BP staff

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Pastors Fred Luter and Alan Cross will lead a walking tour of New Orleans from 6:30-8:30 a.m. June 14 during the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, and Cross, lead pastor of Petaluma Baptist Church in Petaluma, Calif., bring years of local ministry experience to the tour sponsored by The Unify Project, a nationwide Southern Baptist racial reconciliation initiative.

“The history of New Orleans is one of a diverse array of peoples and nations colliding and collaborating to make the city into one of the great cultural centers of the world,” Luter said. “Through all of this, God has placed a witness of His grace in the city through the church to point to the better way of Jesus.

“We’ll explore how looking at the history of a city from a multiethnic view can help us see the barriers and bridges to the Gospel there and the unique contribution each city can make to the world.”

The Unify Project promotes the tour as an opportunity to “unravel the city’s mesmerizing tapestry of history while stirring your spirit with stories of hope and divine providence, fostering a deep sense of anticipation for God’s plans.”

Luter, the lone African American to have served as SBC president, has ministered in New Orleans more than 40 years. Cross ministered extensively across the southern U.S. before relocating to California in 2019.

Registration for the free event is available here, with a capacity of 30.

Learn more about the Unify Project at theunifyproject.org.

Send Network Louisiana to launch August 1

By Brandon Elrod/NAMB

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – The North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) will launch Send Network Louisiana beginning August 1 of this year. The increased partnership will boost coordination between NAMB’s Send Network church-planting arm and Louisiana Baptists as they seek to reach people for Christ by starting new, evangelistic churches within the state.

“The vision of Send Network resonates with our vision to create a culture of evangelism in Louisiana,” said LBC executive director Steve Horn in written comments.

When discussing the potential for Send Network Louisiana, Horn said, “We believe that this partnership will help us have greater excellence and efficiency in our church-planting strategy. Further, we believe that the Send Network Louisiana identity will create unity of purpose and clarity of presentation when we talk with churches and pastors about planting.”

Send Network’s vision is to see God’s kingdom expand in North America over the next decade through churches planting churches that reach and baptize enough people to reach at least one percent of the lost population.

“As Send Network seeks to be a family of churches planting churches everywhere for everyone, we need as many churches, missionaries, and church planting teams as possible who share our values to engage in this work,” said Vance Pitman, president of Send Network. “Pastors and church leaders, I would encourage you to join in the effort with us as we seek first the kingdom of God in North America.”

As churches plant churches, NAMB comes alongside them and other partners to provide assessments, training, coaching and care for church-planting efforts. All of the state conventions outside of the South and now more than half of southern states utilize this special Send Network partnership.

“We work with every state convention to help churches plant churches across North America,” said NAMB president Kevin Ezell, “but these Send Network partnerships allow us to work even more closely with our partners as we come together to support Southern Baptist church-planting efforts.”

Upward-trending enrollment numbers, two promotions mark NOBTS trustee meeting

By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College executive committee of trustees approved a new bachelor’s degree in teaching and learning, heard positive enrollment and fundraising reports, and announced two new administrative positions during its regularly scheduled meeting, June 6.

Pointing to the “trending upward” enrollment numbers, President Jamie Dew announced the faculty members slated to fill two new academic and administrative positions, a move reflecting the seminary’s academic and enrollment momentum.

Matt James was named vice president for enrollment and Cory Barnes was named dean of doctoral studies and distance learning.

James, assistant professor of historical theology, moved into the position from his current role as associate vice president for enrollment. Barnes, associate professor of Old Testament, was promoted to dean from his role as associate vice president of distance learning.

“Matt James and Cory Barnes are going to be two fantastic additions to my presidential cabinet,” Dew said. “They’ve already demonstrated a high level of insight, intuition and ability in their previous leadership roles. But with these new responsibilities, we believe that they’ll add significant strength to our increasing efforts in academics and enrollment.”

Dew noted academic revisions that have strengthened the seminary’s academic structure.

“In the last four years, we have updated and overhauled every single academic program in our institution,” Dew said. “These changes have made them more academically rigorous and better entuned with ministry needs in the 21st century. Our team is well suited to execute the ministry assignment that Southern Baptists have given to our institution.”

In curriculum changes, trustees approved a 120-hour bachelor of arts degree in teaching and learning
designed to be completed in three and a half years, or less. The program’s design provides students
training in classroom organization and management and educational principles as well as practical exposure to teaching and managing a classroom.

In his presidential report, Dew announced to trustees that fundraising numbers last year hit the mark of “best year ever.” Dew praised his team and those involved in fundraising and noted that this year’s fundraising is on course to be in the top five of all years, or higher.

In other news, Dew reported that plans to open a medical clinic on campus are moving forward. The clinic is planned in partnership with Baptist Community Health Services, a non-profit, federally-qualified provider offering comprehensive medical care to all, regardless of income and insurance status, through its five locations across the Greater New Orleans area.

In other actions, trustees approved some additions to the associate degree program, including a Korean Track and a Spanish Track benefiting those who have English as a second language.

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