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Sunday School Board gives first report as LifeWay Christian Resources of SBC

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–Reflecting
a broader scope and increased diversity in its ministries, the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention presented its first report June 9 to SBC messengers under its new name, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Earlier Tuesday, messengers approved a recommendation to change the name.
President James T. Draper Jr. thanked messengers for voting for the name change and for their patience during the board’s transition with a new ordering and distribution system. Today is a new day with a new name and a new vision for the agency, he said.
The name change, at the recommendation of SSB trustees and the SBC Executive Committee, came in recognition of the vastly expanded role of an agency founded in 1891 with the sole assignment of producing Sunday school literature for Southern Baptist churches. Today, that assignment comprises only 25 percent of the agency’s work, Draper said.
A video presentation highlighted
the name change, noting the word LifeWay is
based on John 14:6, in which Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the father except by me.”
Draper corrected what he termed a misconception by some that the name change is an indication the agency is moving away from Southern Baptists.
“We have never been more Baptist and will continue to support our vision — supporting the local church.” Officially, the new name is LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, he said.
Draper also thanked Southern Baptists for the many calls, e-mail messages, prayers and expressions of concern after the tornado that damaged about 300 buildings in downtown Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, April 16.
Last year, the agency replaced 30 outdated computer systems to enhance its ordering and distribution systems, Draper said. Orders now can be placed seven days a week, 24 hours a day, using touch-tone telephones, fax or the Internet, Draper said. At present 6,648 churches have requested PIN numbers enabling them to order products and materials using the Internet, he said.
Draper also told messengers LifeWay is now working alongside the International Mission Board in the area of church development. Ultimately, 14 LifeWay Christian Resources employees will be stationed in the 14 regions of the world to work with missionaries and nationals to help them develop Bible study and discipleship ministries.
LifeWay employees Stephanie Huffman, Kathy Franz, Kirk Kirkland and Kenny Holcomb introduced the agency’s new theme song, “I am the Way,” an original composition based on John 14:6 by Mark Blankenship, director of the music ministries department.
A capital fund-raising campaign for Glorieta (N.M.) and Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference centers is under way, Draper said. Also, he said several noticeable improvements have been added at the conference centers, including the installation of telephones and computer jacks in each room.
Draper gave a special recognition to a man he said has earned the reputation of
“Mr. Sunday School.”
Leon Kilbreth was born in March 1914 and in over 58 years in the ministry has led more than 3,000 Sunday school revivals, seen more than l6,500 people saved, 50,000 new Sunday school departments and classes started and 75,000 people have made commitments to soul-winning.
Gene Mims, vice president of the church growth group, reported 1997 as the largest and best
year yet for Vacation Bible School.
“More than 87,000 professions of faith were reported and 700,000 attended VBS” in Southern Baptist churches,
Mims said.
Bobby Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., shared about the new FAITH strategy linking Sunday school and evangelism, jointly sponsored by LifeWay and the North American Mission Board. A video presentation included firsthand accounts from people who have been touched by the program.
Currently 7,000 people, including pastors and members from more than 1,000 churches, have made definite commitments to attend one of 27 nationwide training clinics this fall, Welch said.
Mark Scott, vice president of the retail group, reported continued growth of new bookstores with the addition of stores in Ohio and Michigan bringing the total to 73. Currently, 15,000 ministers have joined the Ministers Discount Plan, giving paid ministerial staff a 20 percent discount on regularly priced books, Bibles and printed music in Baptist Book Stores.
In addition, customers at the retail outlets contributed $18,000 for Southern Baptist world hunger relief by dropping their change into store containers, Scott said.
Draper praised the
Broadman & Holman publishing division, recognized by the Christian Booksellers Association last year with two books winning Gold Medallion awards.
Draper concluded by reminding messengers that LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention is a business.
“No one gives us Cooperative Program funds; we generate funds. But we are a business that exists only for the purpose of ministry. That’s our commitment and our new name will give us a reminder of that mission . We are grateful to be a part of Southern Baptists.”

    About the Author

  • Steve Achord