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Slain pastor honored with 1st HCSB Award

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Fred Winters was a man known for loving the Bible and people. It was reflected in his passion for preaching the Gospel and seeing people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

His congregation knew of his qualities, and on June 23 messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention met posthumously the man recognized as the first recipient of the HCSB Award.

The award, presented to Winters’ wife Cindy by LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom S. Rainer, will periodically recognize a man or woman who has demonstrated the highest level of commitment to the preaching or teaching of the Word of God. (HCSB is the acronym for the Holman Christian Standard Bible produced by Lifeway.) Winters was shot and killed March 8 while preaching to his congregation at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill.

“The first HCSB Award goes to a former student of mine, a friend who led First Baptist to unprecedented growth and biblical faithfulness,” Rainer told messengers during LifeWay’s report. “On March 8, 2009, a gunman entered the worship center of the church and shot and killed this pastor while he was preaching the Word as he had done faithfully at First Baptist Church of Maryville for nearly 22 years.”

Rainer said the award is born from LifeWay’s first core value: “We believe the Bible is the eternal, infallible, inerrant Word of God and is the plumb line for everything we say and do.”

“A few years ago, LifeWay began a major Bible translation that resulted in one of the most accurate English translations ever: The Holman Christian Standard Bible, which is usually called the HCSB,” he said. “This translation has received accolades around the globe for its accuracy and readability, and quickly became one of the top translations in the world.

“The award reflects the first and foremost core value of LifeWay. Second, it celebrates the HCSB as one of the great English translations of our era.”

Rainer presented Cindy Winters with a plaque and an HCSB Bible recognizing her husband’s contribution to ministry.

“This is a huge blessing for me, Alysia, Cassidy and for our church family,” Cindy Winters said. “This award is a fitting recognition of Fred. It encapsulates his life and the legacy he left behind.

“Fred lived his life with passion. His death was orchestrated by evil and an attempt to stop the work God is doing,” she said. “I am ready to unite across this land and fight the good fight because we have a mighty God who has a message we want to share. This award is a beautiful reminder of what God has called each of us to do.”

As Rainer transitioned to LifeWay’s presentation to the convention, he stated how instrumental Scripture was in his coming to Christ. His high school football coach, Joe Hendrickson, called him into his office one day and challenged Rainer with the Gospel.

“What stuck in my mind or, even more, in my heart, was the Scripture he quoted,” Rainer said. “The Word of God is powerful, and its words spoke to me as truly the Word of God.”

Rainer communicated the importance of maintaining biblical fidelity and said that in translating the HCSB, scholars took great caution to stay faithful to the accuracy of original manuscripts while producing a readable translation.

“I became a Southern Baptist at age 23 because we are people of the Word,” Rainer said. “I was a foot soldier in the Conservative Resurgence as a seminary student because I believed in the inerrant Word. By God’s grace, I lead LifeWay Christian Resources with our first core value of the inerrancy of the Word of God. J.M. Frost, the first president of LifeWay, held that value and we do so with the same commitment today.”

Rainer concluded by saying that there is a great deal of responsibility involved in translating the Bible, that LifeWay employees recognize the trust placed in them and that LifeWay Christian Resources takes its “stewardship of the Word of God with utmost seriousness.”
Chris Turner writes for LifeWay Christian Resources.