LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The final live broadcast of “The Albert Mohler Program” will be July 2, R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced at the end of his radio show June 21, as he prioritizes other ministry responsibilities and media options.
Mohler, in an official letter explaining his plans, expressed gratitude to his listeners, Salem Communications and others who have had a hand in the radio program. Ed Atsinger and Stu Epperson, the founders of the Salem Radio Network and Salem Communications, were among those Mohler thanked for “believing in this program and for building a great Christian radio network that is not afraid to take on the issues and offer conviction.”
“I have had the privilege of talking to people all over the world each weekday through the medium of radio,” wrote Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “I believe we have indeed developed a model that lived up to our promise of ‘intelligent Christian conversation about the issues that matter.’ I have been energized every single day by the experience of sitting behind that microphone and talking to people across the nation and around the world.”
Mohler cited ministry responsibilities at Southern Seminary and other media opportunities as reasons for ending the live radio show. While the radio program is broadcast on over 100 stations in the United States, Mohler noted that taking the program to the next level would likely involve an expansion to a three-hour daily broadcast. “This is just not a practical possibility,” Mohler explained, “given my other responsibilities.”
Mohler said more announcements will be made about his media plans in coming days. One component will be a recorded interview and discussion based program without callers. Mohler will also continue to do national broadcast commentary for Salem Communications.
“There is a sense of sadness in leaving this stage of ministry and media for another,” Mohler wrote. “I need to be most available — at my best — for those who mean the most to me, to Southern Seminary, and to the advance of Christ’s Kingdom.”
Mohler, who also serves as Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Theology at Southern, noted that removing the constraints of a radio schedule will allow him to be more present in other areas of life and ministry.
“I need to be more present on the mission fields of the world, more present with our students and faculty and more present with friends of the seminary.”
Digital files of The Albert Mohler Program will continue to be available at www.albertmohler.com.
FREE ONLINE S.S. TRAINING OFFERED — A new Sunday School training event from LifeWay Christian Resources will debut July 11.
“Great Expectations: Live Sunday School Training from LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center” will be offered online from LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center. Instead of being trained “at” a conference center, the audience will be trained “from” the conference center.
“This free online training event is designed so that an attendee’s Sunday School class can have even greater impact on the church, in its local community and in the lives of its members when expectations are raised and thinking is enlarged,” said Bruce Raley, director of leadership ministry training and events at LifeWay.
While leaving home for training is still the norm, LifeWay has begun to offer more training opportunities online. Just this year, people have logged on to three online events: The Summit: A Convergence of Small-Group Experts; Worship: Reverence vs. Relevance; and Sunday School vs. Small Groups.
Still, David Francis, LifeWay’s director of Sunday School and author of “Great Expectations: Planting Seeds for Sunday School Growth,” called the July 11 online training event “unprecedented.”
“It will be interactive, inspirational and designed to help our audience build God-empowered, focused and connected Sunday School classes,” Francis said.
Raley said that as of mid-June 7,000 people had registered for the event, keeping pace with the goal of 10,000-plus participants. “This will certainly be the largest Sunday School training in our history.”
The training event is for teachers, directors, class leaders and church staff. Virtual audience members will have the opportunity to submit real-time questions and interact with other attendees around the country through a live chat feature or via Twitter using the event hashtag #GrtExp.
The July 11 event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern time. A link to the webcast will be placed on the Great Expectations training page at LifeWay.com/GreatExpectations one week prior to the event. Early registrants can elect to receive e-mails featuring reminders, links to participant guides and viewing instructions. Free downloadable materials are available on the training page as well.
The panel conducting the training includes Francis and Raley as well as Allan Taylor, minister of education at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; Jeff Young, minister of spiritual development at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; and P.K. Spratt, minister of education at Jersey Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
“Our hope is to make this a great experience for Sunday School leaders,” Francis said. “We want it to be as simple as signing in.”
QUILTING YIELDS MISSIONS OPPORTUNITIES — In the mountains of north Georgia, Camp Pinnacle provides common ground for those who share its mission — to lead people to Christ, promote Christian character and to promote world missions.
For fourth-grader Stephanie Patten and more than 900 other Girls in Action (GA) members at Camp Pinnacle last summer, their missions involvement began in nearby Appalachia.
Through a week of hands-on activities and a personal visit with Bill Barker, director of Appalachian Regional Ministry, the girls discovered the needs of people in central Appalachia — home to 37 of the nation’s 100 poorest counties. With those needs in mind, the girls decided to make lap quilts for senior adults in the region.
Adult volunteers prepared for the project by cutting scrap blocks for 70–80 quilts and creating a simple pattern with a cross in the middle. At camp, the girls gathered around a table and sowed the pieces of cloth together. As they worked, conversation turned to the people who would receive the quilts and how the girls wanted to decorate and personalize the blocks with fabric paint.
“Before we started, one of the leaders prayed for the people who would get the quilts,” Patten recounted. “I knew I was helping someone that needed it. It felt good. We wrote things like ‘Jesus loves you!’ and drew crosses and stars.”
After the blocks were stitched together, the adults showed the girls how to do the hand-quilting and hemming to finish each quilt.
As a companion project, the GAs brought items to Camp Pinnacle for hygiene bags to donate to the Freeda Harris Baptist Center in Pike County, Ky. The center provides benevolence ministries as well as Bible studies and life skills classes for area residents. GAs learned that the new, clean underwear in the hygiene packs, for example, might be the first that some children would ever receive.
Karen Pace, Georgia Baptist WMU consultant, said teaching Camp Pinnacle’s GAs to be on mission begins with teaching them to maintain a close relationship with God. “[We’re] helping kids learn to love God more than anyone else, then being obedient to Him,” she said. “I don’t see how anybody can love Jesus and not be on mission!”
Pace encourages children’s missions leaders to explore ways they can involve kids in missions. Leaders can contact their state conventions to connect with missionaries or learn of other possibilities to help boys and girls see how God is at work near them to and nurture their excitement and involvement in missions.
For more information about a WMU summer missions camp in your area, visit www.gapassport.com. Camp Pinnacle (www.pinnacleretreatcenter.com), owned and operated by Georgia WMU, is open year-round for retreats and conferences.
$115M PLEDGED AT FBC DALLAS — The 143-year-old First Baptist Church in Dallas has raised more than $115 million in a six-month capital campaign to recreate its downtown campus for 21st century ministry. Consultants said the monetary amount is the largest ever pledged for a Protestant church building program in the United States.
An overflow crowd of nearly 2,800 — many arriving more than two hours early to get a seat — packed the 1,600-seat sanctuary and three additional venues during a morning service in May to be part of the historic announcement and celebrate God’s provision.
The campaign was launched last fall with a $130 million goal, but plans for the complex were pared down to limit cost. Highlights of the new campus will include a 3,000-seat worship center, a new education building, a fountain plaza with a water tower topped by a cross, hundreds more parking spaces and a sky bridge that will tie together different parts of the new campus.
The historic sanctuary, which dates to 1890, will be retained as a site for weddings, funerals and other special events, and its steeple will be restored to its original height.
“These past six months have been a time of great spiritual growth and sacrificial giving for our church,” said Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas. “We can tell you story after story of families who felt God calling them to give x amount and did so obediently. Often, this gift was more than they thought they could initially sacrifice, but because of their obedience, God provided a supernatural blessing. This campaign’s success is not due to one man’s gift. It is due to all of God’s people giving sacrificially and obediently.”
The congregation heard two testimonies, including 9-year-old Nathan Denman, who raised $505 in a garage sale of his toys.
“You taught me that God sacrificed His Son Jesus, and a real sacrifice meant giving up something you love,” the boy told Jeffress from the pulpit.
Dallas’ mayor, Tom Leppert, is a member of First Baptist, and he expressed gratitude for what the new campus will add to Dallas’ downtown area. Groundbreaking is scheduled for July, with construction expected to be completed in 2013.
Compiled from reports by Garrett Wishall of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Polly House of LifeWay Christian Resources; G.G. Mathis of WMU; and a news release from A. Larry Ross Communications.