Iowa Town Shows Gratitude to Baptists

Flood debris sitting in the sun produced a foul odor in Lamont, Iowa, a small town of 490 people about thirty-five miles east of Waterloo. Some residents piled debris on the curb for sanitation workers to haul away, but they were at a loss for what to do next.

Many of the town's senior adults and some with physical disabilities had been waiting for assistance to clean out their homes, which were damaged by floodwaters when eight inches of rain fell the evening of May 25.

The mayor of Lamont, Alfred Hotchkiss, heard about Southern Baptist disaster relief at a meeting of the emergency management council in the county seat about twenty miles away. He asked if SBC workers could come to the town and help the residents who were having trouble getting assistance.

Ty Berry, disaster relief coordinator for the Baptist Convention of Iowa, responded in the affirmative, and a one-day blitz of the town was arranged for July 9. Twenty-eight workers from Oklahoma, South Carolina, Colorado, and Texas converged on the town and cleaned out eleven homes.

Residents said they couldn't believe Southern Baptists would travel from all parts of the country to work in their little town.

"After you go through something like [the flooding], you really appreciate it," Hotchkiss said of the Baptists' help. "We had water nearly as wide as a football field across our main street in town from the Lamont Creek."

Hotchkiss said the town's Methodist minister "has been going around trying to calm the people down after the flood. But he can only do so much, and people were starting to get upset with the lack of progress.

"I heard about this service, and we arranged for it. You really appreciate the help, and then when these guys are done they stand around and pray with you and give you hugs," the mayor said. "That's the really great part."

Baptist Press



Southern Baptists Included at Bush Faith-based Conference

Government bureaucracy can't "fix" America, but the nation's people can, President Bush told one thousand-plus leaders of faith-based and community groups gathered in Washington to network with each other and hear from various government leaders.

"Groups like yours have harnessed a power that no government bureaucracy can match," Bush said. "So when I came to Washington, my goal was to ensure that government made you a full partner in our efforts to serve those in need. The results have been uplifting, and that's what we're here to talk about today."

Bush was joined by cabinet members and other government leaders at the June 26-27 meeting of public- and private-sector leaders at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives hosted the national conference which included about two hundred small group workshops as well as several bipartisan plenary sessions.

The event served as a "pep talk," said Karl Ragan, a specialist in disaster relief for the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. "The entire administration is looking ahead toward the next administration," Ragan said. "They wanted the faith-based groups to show strength and solidarity behind the faith-based initiatives going into the next administration."

Ragan said even though the event included more than just faith-based groups, "I was impressed with the number of high-level government officials who were openly displaying their faith. I really wasn't expecting that; it was kind of neat.

"Our president quoted Scripture correctly, not out of context," Ragan continued. "This was totally unscripted. It seemed like he was speaking from the heart…. There were others sitting around who commented on the president's passion for this [faith-based and community initiatives] and his faith."
Bush received several standing ovations during his fifteen-minute talk, especially after quoting Scripture, Ragan added.

Ragan also represented Southern Baptists at a networking session limited to the nation's fifteen largest faith-based and community entities.

Baptist Press



American Family Association Declares McDonald's Boycott

The American Family Association launched a boycott of McDonald's on July 3, saying the restaurant chain's corporate leaders refuse "to remain neutral in the culture wars" by promoting the homosexual agenda.

Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, told The Washington Post that the association proceeded with a boycott when McDonald's declined to remove itself from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

"We're saying that there are people who support AFA who don't appreciate their dollars from the hamburgers they bought being put into an organization that's going to fight against the values they believe in," Wildmon said.

AFA says on its new Web site www.boycottmcdonalds.com that the boycott "is not about hiring homosexuals. It is not about homosexuals eating at McDonald's. It is not about how homosexual employees are treated. It is about McDonald's, as a corporation, refusing to remain neutral in the culture wars. McDonald's has chosen not to remain neutral but to give the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage."

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, according to its Web site, "represents the interests of the estimated 1.4 million LGBT owned businesses in the United States. Through its affiliated network of forty-five state and local chambers and business organizations, the NGLCC is the largest LGBT business development and economic advocacy organization in the country."

The Web site also makes clear that the chamber lobbies Congress on a wide range of issues related to the homosexual agenda.

An official with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, while not commenting specifically on the AFA boycott, issued a statement to Baptist Press recapping general principles regarding Christian stewardship in their consumer spending.

"Discerning Southern Baptists note which corporations support causes or movements which are antithetical to a biblical perspective and then weigh carefully which businesses in good conscience and, perhaps of necessity, they can patronize," ERLC Vice President Dwayne Hastings said July 7.

"In this day of conglomerates and multinational corporations, it is difficult to find a large corporation that does not in some way support something which stands in opposition to what we know to be good and moral," Hastings added.

"Yet as Christians, we should be consistent in living out our values, rooted in God's Word, even if it means we have to sacrifice. Each of us has an obligation to carefully and prayerfully consider where we spend our money. Yet at the end of the day, that is a personal decision each of us must make."

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