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SBC DIGEST: Unify Project prayer guide; Barber gives CP lesson at SBTC conference

Unify Project releases 40-day prayer guide for racial reconciliation

By BP staff

SARALAND, Ala. (BP) – The Unify Project, launched in 2022 by former Southern Baptist Convention presidents Ed Litton and Fred Luter, has released a 40-day prayer guide for racial reconciliation.

“As Christians, we believe racial reconciliation in our communities begins with prayer,” Luter and Litton said in releasing the guide. “Our hope is that this guide will not only deepen your understanding of racial reconciliation but also inspire action within your community. We believe that by seeking God’s guidance through prayer, we can work towards healing and building bridges that honor Christ.”

Daily scriptures and prayer prompts comprise the free guide. Petitions focused on Genesis 1:27, seeing individuals as image-bearers of God, and Micah 6:8, seeking God’s help in doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly, launch the first days of the guide. Related petitions during the 40 days ask God to heal the wounds of racism (2 Chronicles 7:14), and to bound societal wounds (Psalm 147:3).

The guide is available at theunifyproject.org/lent and offers companion resources to help participants become leaders in racial reconciliation in their individual communities.

The Unify Project, a Gospel-centered, ethnically diverse racial reconciliation ministry designed to mobilize Southern Baptist pastors and leaders in unifying their communities, launched in November, 2022. It has an ethnically diverse steering committee and draws on wisdom from noted pastor and author Tony Evans, who helped announce the initiative at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

The guide is dated Feb. 22 – April 6 to coincide with the Lenten season, regarded by many religious denominations as a season of repentance.

More information is available at theunifyproject.org.

Barber outlines CP history, need for continued giving at ‘Empower’ luncheon

By Jane Rodgers/Southern Baptist TEXAN

IRVING—Southern Baptist Convention President Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, challenged 450 attendees at the Empower Conference’s Cooperative Program luncheon on Tuesday to continue the tradition of cooperation begun among Baptists during the 1800s.

“I’m not going to preach today,” announced Barber, who moments earlier had concluded giving the message to close the conference’s morning session. During that message, Barber called Jesus “amazing” and said He can use the Cooperative Program to advance kingdom causes in a tremendous way.

“I love what we do together,” he said.

Noting the Cooperative Program will mark its 100th year in two years, Barber launched into a brief history that included its earliest iterations through the missionary efforts of William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Luther Rice. Judson and Rice raised support among congregationalists for foreign missionaries, he said, only to see that support collapse when they became Baptists. Judson’s missionary efforts in Burma became legendary.

Cooperative Program roots

Barber said Southern Baptists existed for 80 years before the Cooperative Program was formed. From the ashes of the Civil War, God inspired Southern Baptists to combine funds and send missionaries to Brazil, China, and even Italy.

“We were going to storm hell with a water pistol … and get all those Catholics to become Baptists,” Barber said with a chuckle of the early Italian missionary efforts. “There was no Cooperative Program, but there was cooperation.”

During the early 20th century, messengers at the 1919 annual meeting took the initiative to start an unprecedented effort called the 75 Million Campaign. The 75 Million Campaign ensured that churches established a means for churches to give in support of local and global ministry.

“God started to move among Southern Baptists to dream that they could do something that reached a little further,” Barber said. Before the campaign, messengers brought money to the annual meeting from their churches: an allocation for the Foreign Mission Board, a separate amount for the Home Mission Board, and funds for the seminaries.

“We came to a point where we said, ‘We are serious about this. Every church in the convention is going to make a plan for our people, for our finances … a plan that is bigger than us, that reaches out to people who don’t live near us, that don’t look like us, that don’t speak the same language,’” Barber said.

The 75 Million Campaign raised $93 million in pledges. Barber noted the extensive involvement of Texas Baptists in the foundation of the CP, including Pastor J.B. Gambrell of Fort Worth.

“Money comes when people trust and are inspired by the work of the Great Commission. That’s what fuels cooperation among Southern Baptists,” Barber said.

Read the full story here.

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  • BP Staff