Month: February 2007

Geoffrey A. Hammond recommended as president-elect of North American Mission Board, SBC

ALPHARETTA, GA.?The President Search Committee of the North American Mission Board trustees today recommended that Dr. Geoffrey A. Hammond become the agency’s next president. Hammond is senior associate director of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

NAMB’s full board of trustees will vote on the recommendation at a March 20-21 special called meeting in Alpharetta. If approved, Hammond would become NAMB’s president-elect, officially beginning his duties at the May 8-9 board meeting and starting full-time on May 22, according to committee chairman Greg Faulls.

“Dr. Hammond has proven himself to be a successful leader, strategist and practitioner in church planting missions and evangelism throughout his ministry career,” Faulls said. “NAMB is a missions agency in need of a strong leader with the mind of a missiologist and with a vision to strategically mobilize an army of missionaries who will spread the Gospel and plant churches throughout an ethnically diverse North America.”

Hammond, 49, was born in Nigeria to missionary parents serving with the Foreign Mission Board, SBC. He earned the equivalent of a business degree in administration in Zimbabwe, passing the final examination of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators (UK). He is a graduate of Spurgeon’s Seminary in London, England, as well as earning the doctor of ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, majoring in evangelism and missions.

He has served throughout his career as pastor, church planter, staff member of mega-churches, International Mission Board missionary to Brazil, seminary professor, director of missions, NAMB-appointed missionary, church planting strategist and for the past five years, as a senior associate state executive.

Hammond understands missions at every level. He has proven skills and experience planting churches and strategically directing church planting in associations and a state convention. He is gifted in leadership and adept in the areas of business administration. He is bilingual and has a grasp of the complexity and diversity of the harvest field and clearly understands the importance and dynamics of NAMB’s relationships with its state partners,” said Faulls. “In addition, he is fully supportive of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”

Hammond and his wife, Deborah, have two sons, Timothy and Nicholas.

“Our president search committee has been thorough and prayerful in seeking God’s man for NAMB,” said Bill Curtis, chairman of the board. “I can say with confidence that the search committee has worked diligently on behalf of Southern Baptists and the board throughout this process, and they look forward to bringing a report on the journey and to presenting Dr. Geoff Hammond at the March board meeting.”

Curtis also said, “I wish to express my gratitude to every member of the NAMB staff. During the past year, I have observed our wonderful staff rise to every challenge with faith and cooperation. As we prepare to move into a new phase of NAMB’s history, I am confident that the staff and our committed missionaries will continue to rise as they work together in advancing evangelism, church planting and the strengthening of churches throughout North America.”

“As a third-generation missionary, my heartbeat has always been reaching people with the Gospel no matter where they live,” said Hammond. “I believe the North American Mission Board is the greatest missionary agency for reaching North America for Christ and it is the greatest honor of my life to be nominated for this position.”

The recommendation of Hammond follows an intense 10-month search that began with the committee’s commitment to continually pray, follow a thorough, patient process and resist outside political maneuvers.

“We determined what we were going to do was seek God’s man. There was never a predetermined person. We were faithful to follow our process and allow God to reveal His choice,” Faulls said. “We considered a wide variety of candidates from all corners of Southern Baptist life: pastors, seminary professors, state executives, missionaries, evangelists, as well as staff members of denominational agencies.”

NAMB, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, is led by a 56-member board of trustees. In April 2006, after the resignation of former president Dr. Bob Reccord, then-board chairman Barry Holcomb appointed a nine-member search committee: chairman Greg Faulls (Ky.), vice-chairman David Crump (Okla.), Dennis Culbreth (Va.), Ellie Ficken (Ala.),

An optimist’s boast

My wife, Tammi, and I recently toured Independence Hall and other sites in Philadelphia related to the birth of our nation. Some were moving and all were interesting for one reason or another. In a small building beside Independence Hall was a quote from Thomas Paine, mounted on the wall, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” It stuck in my mind for days after.

Paine was a noted Enlightenment thinker, pamphleteer and radical in the 18th century. His best-known work, “Common Sense,” made a compelling case for American independence from England and had a profound effect on the colonies. His faith was Deist and he became known as an enemy of revealed religion after writing “The Age of Reason.” His stirring rhetoric made him very popular during our War for Independence. When he turned his words against the Bible and Christianity, his stock rapidly fell. Thomas Paine’s death was little noted and his funeral was not well attended.

The quote I saw in Philadelphia struck me with its optimistic hubris. The notion of beginning again is so foreign to this era. Understandably, it was easier to imagine in the earliest days of our nation. Our forefathers stood on the shore of a great, rich, undeveloped continent. The potential for building a new nation on ideas of law and liberty must have looked like a new beginning of human civilization to the more poetic people of that generation. In our day there is no great unknown land open to us. There is no nation where we may start from the foundation with new ideas that will deeply impact the world.

Back to Paine’s quote: did they have the power to “begin the world over again?” Do we?

Practically, I’d have to say “no” and “no.” The American experiment has impacted the whole world and usually for the good. But our 60-year involvement in the Middle East would indicate that we haven’t started the world over. Ancient rivalries and human traits are more persistent than our relatively brief history.

Additionally we’d have to admit that the succession of imperial wannabes of the 20th century thoroughly rocked the notion that progress and knowledge would correspond with peace and understanding. Starting over again would have to be effected on the micro rather than macro level. Transforming individuals is the only sense that the world can start again.

Our cultural optimism leads us to think that an insight or achievement will open the “age of Aquarius” for us all (dated cultural reference, ask your parents). That’s why we assume that every disease or bad behavior has a cure. It’s why these vague “the more you know” spots on NBC television bring comfort to some. We believe that we have the power and smarts to do whatever we set our minds to do.

As I said, there is a world that can be made new again. Institutions closest to the changes in individual lives can also be drastically changed by the impact of these souls. This, really, is the work set before most of us.

Christian homes are not the sad and broken thing Adam and Eve carried from the garden. The intimacy of the setting makes the influence of godly parents overwhelming. The Holy Spirit guards and guides those within so that this little world of the home is made over again.

Our homes are not immune to the influences of negative things but they can be fortified to an amazing degree. Yes, our calling is largely carried out in that place of turmoil beyond our homes but the fortress is where we rest, recover, and refit for the next day’s work.

Beyond the power of redemption to renew lives one by one, our families are the place where this change has the most impact. A family led by renewed people is itself renewed, begun again.

Our churches also can be places where the world is remade. Sadly, the proportion of Christians to non-Christians within the membership of our churches is much lower than within my home. This means the impact is dissipated some. The influenc

Plan to share Jesus at SBC in San Antonio

Make your reservations now! We have a real treat coming our way this summer, June 12 and 13. The Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting will be held in San Antonio. It will be an opportunity for Texas Baptists to show our love for Jesus and each other to a wide array of observers. Our Baptist friends from around the nation will be making their way to the Alamo City. A watching world will be listening for a message with the power to impact our culture. The most important contribution we can make is to tell people about the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

Let me give you a quick overview of some of the events. Bobby Welch, immediate past president of the SBC, will be leading an SBTC-sponsored pre-Crossover evangelism effort. Beginning on Good Friday and ending the second week of May, Bobby will be traveling across South Texas stirring believers and sharing the gospel. Bobby will visit the Army base where he was assigned during his Vietnam military service. A number of area-wide events are planned for San Antonio, West Houston, the Valley, Austin and Corpus Christi. This is an incredible opportunity for churches in the South Texas region to show the love of Jesus through some powerful outreach efforts. The SBC Crossover will take place in San Antonio with plenty of places for you to plug into ministry. You can find more information by contacting NAMB, or checking our website.

Texas should definitely have the largest number of messengers. Texas Baptists will want to be at the convention center with our typical hospitality and sweet spirit. Let’s all be a part of giving a big Texas “howdy” to the out-of-state guests. The SBTC staff will assist in a special “Welcome to Texas” fellowship on Monday night following the Pastors’ Conference. SBTC missions and ministry will be highlighted along with an emphasis of our partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention. SBC leaders are invited to participate. It will be a great time to let others know we are happy they are in Texas. On Tuesday morning the SBTC staff will greet messengers as they enter the convention center. We will be giving them copies of the TEXAN and sharing a smile.

Some issues will be discussed at the annual meeting that interest Texas Southern Baptists. You will want to be present for all of the sessions and voice your opinion. It is important for you to prayerfully share your convictions. Stand for your beliefs but stand graciously. Fight for principles. Do not fight personalities. Philippians 2 tells us to have the mind of Christ.

The Executive Committee voted in their February meeting to go to Orlando and Phoenix in 2010 and 2011, respectively. It may be a long time before we are the host state again. Let’s make the most of it. You can register on-line with the SBC at If you need more information, visit our website at or call toll free 1-877-953-7282. Pray for revival among God’s people?especially those called Southern Baptists. See you in San Antonio.

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Pastor resigns from ministerial alliance; charges it blurred Islamic-Christian lines

KATY, Texas ? A Southern Baptist pastor in the Houston area has resigned from his city’s ministerial alliance, charging that it is “soft selling” the differences between Christianity and Islam.

Randy White, pastor of First Baptist Church of Katy, said the Katy Ministerial Alliance “has always posed itself as a Christian group” and that he has withdrawn his membership because “it was communicated that Allah and God were the same, just a different name.”

“Everything so far has been an advertisement for the soft side of Islam along the lines of ‘the more we get together the happier we’ll all be. If we as Christians and Americans understood the true heart of Islam, we wouldn’t have any concerns at all,'” said White, paraphrasing what he deems the misguided sentiment of the Katy ministers’ group.

A planned mosque near Katy has drawn opposition from some area residents, including one man who protested by holding pig races on his property adjoining the proposed mosque site on Fridays, the Muslim holy day. Muslims view swine as unclean.

White wrote in his resignation letter that “there is no place for prejudice and intolerance in America,” though “I must say I find no compatibility between Christianity and Islam.”

White told the Southern Baptist Texan: “I took a religious stance, not so much on the right of the church to gather to build a place of worship?we have a freedom of religion that Baptists fought for. But the Islamic faith is not compatible with Christianity and in many ways is not compatible with democracy.”

The ministerial alliance’s position “has been that we have more theological agreement than we have differences,” White complained. “And I don’t see any theological agreement [between Islam and Christianity].”

White’s resignation letter drew coverage in the Houston Chronicle and from the local Katy Times, which published several letters from readers on the subject.

Yousef Allam of the Katy Islamic Association told the Chronicle his group must obey the laws of the land “as long as it does not prohibit us from worship.”


NEW ORLEANS?Center Point Church of North Richland Hills, a Fort Worth suburb, has adopted a “home” away from home.

After replacing the roof on the home of a senior adult New Orleans resident?Mr. Richardson?in June 2006, the church decided to adopt the home and see it through to completion. The fourth team of volunteers from the church recently returned from hanging drywall in the home.

Center Point has been working with Operation NOAH (New Orleans Area Homes) Rebuild, a two-year initiative of the North American Mission Board in cooperation with Louisiana Baptists and other assisting state conventions. NOAH houses, feeds and coordinates the work of hundreds of volunteers every month, working toward a projected goal of rebuilding 1,000 homes.

Pastor Jay Bruner and the first team of volunteers presented a check from the church to Operation NOAH for $10,000. The money has been used, in part, for building materials for Richardson’s home.

Marc Byers, owner of an automotive repair shop and a coordinator for the trips, said returning team members were so excited about the first trip, the church made the commitment to come every few weeks.

Participant Lauri Daniels said that after hearing the report of the first team, she decided, “I’ve got to be a part of that.”

Byers, who came to faith in Christ a year and a half ago, said getting people involved in the trips was as much fun “as bringing people to church.” Some “recruits” for the trips have been unchurched skilled workers, including some of Byers’ customers.

“Nothing builds a church quite like a mission trip,” Byers said. “Some of our team members got connected to the church for the first time after one of these trips.”

Brad Sullard, Center Point’s associate pastor, said that the nine-year-old church, now averaging 650 in worship, has shifted their focus as a result of the mission trips.

“These trips have been very significant in developing our mission focus and a vision for those outside the church,” Sullard said. “We are moving from being self-focused to giving our lives away.”

Sullard said that the presence of volunteers is being noticed in New Orleans. As they shared lunch and visited with the neighbors, team members have shared how they are motivated by a commitment to Christ.

Center Point teams took the gutted home and replaced wiring and plumbing systems, insulation and walls.

“NOAH 5,” the next scheduled trip, is planned as a youth mission trip to paint inside the home. Three additional trips are anticipated to finish out cabinets, flooring and other accommodations.

“As an individual there’s not much I can do,” four-time team member Paul Bellwood said. “But we have learned that as a team, together we can do a lot.”

SBC president speaks to editors on appointments, SBC’s future

PHILADELPHIA?When SBC President Frank Page addressed Southern Baptist editors meeting in Philadelphia Feb. 16, he offered many of the same answers he gave eight months earlier to some of the same reporters following his election in Greensboro, N.C.

A sweet spirit, evangelistic heart, and a commitment to biblical inerrancy and the funding mechanism known as the Cooperative Program remain the litmus tests for those Southern Baptists he soon will appoint to some denominational committees, he said.

And while the questions changed some to suit recent buzz among a few Internet bloggers and other Baptists, Page still encouraged critics to do a “reality check” before giving up on Southern Baptist ministry and mission.

“I sense a huge number of people?primarily laypeople, certainly pastors of small and medium-sized churches who are authentically, loving, Christian men and women?they want to win the world to Christ, care about people, help people in Jesus’ name.”

Building upon the evangelistic foundation of his predecessor, Bobby Welch of Florida, Page said he had asked the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board to team with state and associational staffs to develop a national evangelistic strategy.

“That’s why I’m cautiously optimistic,” Page said while adding that Southern Baptists are “tired of fussing and fighting” and willing to stay on focus with missions and evangelism.

Part of the blame for the negative perceptions of the SBC lay at the feet of those “people who want to constantly cast us in a negative light because in so doing they can cast themselves as being positive in the life of Southern Baptists,” Page said.

Countering the critics is somewhat of a public relations problem, he noted. When talking with people who have left the SBC or are considering that option, Page said he acknowledges “constant antagonisms have driven away massive numbers of people.”

Instead of focusing on the negative, Page challenges those who are disenchanted with the SBC to take a closer look at the breadth of denominational ministry extending from New Orleans to the other side of the world.

“Go with me to the Katrina area where I’ve been three times in the last six months,” Page said. “Let’s go see who is nailing boards on walls, who’s gutting out the homes. You’ll find Southern Baptists doing 10 times more.”

On college campuses nationwide are Southern Baptist ministers who are making a difference, he added.

While visiting Nepal last year Page said he learned that the sound of Christian songs can be heard on any street in the capital city because there are now 5,000 house churches that didn’t exist five years ago, a result of Southern Baptist mission efforts.

It’s more than “patting ourselves on the back,” Page explained. “It’s just a reality check. If you’re looking for fault, you don’t have to look far, but let’s just be open and honest.

“Are there not things you can buy into?” he said.

“If after you’ve checked it out you don’t want to be a Southern Baptist, God’s work is not tied up in who we are. But praise God he can use some of us,” he added.

SBC seminaries show similarities, diversity regarding female profs

GRAPEVINE–In January, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary made the news with an earlier decision to deny tenure to a Hebrew language instructor, Sheri Klouda. Discussion in the Klouda case centered on Southwestern’s practice of appointing only “pastor-qualified” professors to teach biblical studies and theology students.

A Feb. 5 story in the TEXAN quoted David Allen, Southwestern’s academic dean, and Van McClain, chairman of the seminary trustee board. Chairman McClain spoke of Southwestern’s desire “to have only men teaching who are qualified to be pastors or who have been pastors in the disciplines of theology, biblical studies, homiletics, and pastoral ministries.”

McClain described the desire to be in keeping with the SBC’s confession of faith, which limits the role of pastor to men.

In early February the TEXAN asked the leadership of the five other SBC seminaries about their procedures and policies regarding the appointment of biblical studies professors.

Midwestern Seminary, Southern Seminary, New Orleans Seminary, and Southeastern Seminary granted interviews with the seminary presidents. Golden Gate Seminary responded to questions by e-mail.

The seminaries, each with its own trustee governing board, differ slightly in policy and practice. None, however, has women teaching theology or pastoral ministries courses.

The following are the questions the TEXAN asked and the responses by the seminaries’ presidents or spokesmen.

*TEXAN: Describe your seminary’s practice regarding female professors and biblical studies classes.

DANNY AKIN (Southeastern president): This is a point that is raised in a lot of venues, not just seminaries, but in the mission field. For example, I recently had the question proposed before me?Is it appropriate for a woman to share the gospel and evangelize a man? My response was, it would be inappropriate if she didn’t. Then the question comes, “we don’t believe women should ever under any circumstances teach a man theology.” My response was how do you share the gospel and not convey and teach theology? The answer is you do.

The gospel is by its very nature a theological proposition and issue; therefore, the very sharing of the gospel, you are teaching theology. You are teaching the Bible. That’s just unavoidable. Moving to us–though we do not have an “official” policy, and we don’t. But as the president and with my dean, David Nelson and I think with the consensus for the most part if not unanimously with our faculty, we have identified certain positions that closely parallel the office of the pastor, the elder, the overseer, that we would only look to call and hire men for those particular areas.

Those areas include preaching, pastoral ministries, theology, and biblical studies. I could not imagine that we would hire a woman to sit in one of those professorial positions as an instructor over men.

CHUCK KELLEY (New Orleans president): We do not have guidelines, but we would follow the Baptist Faith and Message statement and I think in my conversations with other seminary presidents and I think I read my board properly in saying there are definitely areas in which we would not have a woman teach. Biblical studies and theology are two of those areas. Preaching would be a third area. However, I do want to have a women’s study position that would have a female theologian and biblical scholar teaching as part of our women’s studies program. That’s one of my dreams one day.

ALBERT MOHLER (Southern president): During the transition of Southern Seminary, when we were seeking to bring our hiring policies completely in line with what we believed were the rightful expectations of Southern Baptists, we did this before there was a 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

It was clear where Southern Baptists stood on this. Furthermore, we believed it was right in accordance with biblical teaching that the faculty members who would model the pastorate in the teaching of disciplines specifically for pastors would be qualified by Scripture to be pastors.

This was not just an abstract theory. This also was what was advised to us in terms of the necessity of specifying which teaching positions must in all cases be qualified in this manner. So we defined all teaching positions in the school of theology as of necessity to be pastor-qualified.

PHIL ROBERTS (Midwestern president): We don’t have a written policy but we do have the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which specifies that pastors should be men. We’d be very hesitant about women teaching theological subjects for that reason.

JEFF JONES (Golden Gate communications director): The seminary does not have a restriction of gender in its faculty hiring policy. The seminary currently has four female faculty members teaching in the areas of education and intercultural communication.  
*TEXAN: Would this practice include disciplines like church history and biblical languages?

AKIN: I wouldn’t [draw the line there]. I don’t see a problem with a woman teaching French, German, Latin, Cantonese, Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic.

MOHLER: I don’t believe there is any such thing as a mere language study when it comes to the biblical languages and the biblical text. I would argue that the teaching of biblical languages, when it comes to interpreting and translating the biblical text, inevitably comes down to matters of exegesis and theology as well as mere language.

ROBERTS: We’d have to take that on a case-by-case basis in some areas.

*TEXAN: Are there cases where otherwise qualified men might be rejected because they are not qualified to pastor for some reason?

AKIN: Yes. We, for example, as of this moment have no divorcees on our faculty. I realize there are differences of opinion on this and I respect those differences of opinion. Would I think it exceptional that I would have a divorced person on our faculty? Yes. It is conceivable someone who was divorced prior to their conversion and who has demonstrated over many, many years the expectations of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, that they are indeed a mature, godly man who would meet all those expectations. Could I see myself considering such a person for a teaching position? Yes, I could.

KELLEY: Probably so. We are looking for churchmen. Many of our faculty members are interim pastors in addition to their ministry here. This is one of the things I’ve had to learn. I really learned one of the significant roles a seminary plays in a region of its location is the provision of leadership for local churches such as interim pastorates. And so I like to have people who are able to help churches because I know the needs are so great.

ROBERTS: We do expect our faculty members to have a kind of pastoral role in the lives of our students. I couldn’t see us hiring someone to teach biblical studies classes who is not qualified for the pastorate.

*TEXAN: What do you say to those who object that passages like 1 Timothy 2:9-14 apply to churches rather than to parachurch ministries such as seminaries?

AKIN: I understand their argument and though I appreciate it, I would simply think for us, we’ve determined that the parallel between the office of the pastor and those particular positions of instruction is close enough that it is a guideline worth following.

KELLEY: Well, I think its primary application is obviously local church. I do think it’s harder to be ironclad over its application outside of the local church. I think you have to allow a little more freedom of interpretation. But I think Southern Baptists have historically looked at that very strongly and very consistently in relationship to the church. I think they have been very consistent in the matter of preparation of ministers in theological education. There is no tradition of women teaching theology or biblical studies to men in our seminaries. Any exceptions would stand out in being exceptions and not a rule to the succession of people coming in.

MOHLER: Well, I would say specifically that interpretation [of applying to local churches] is more or less correct. But we are an institution that serves the local church, and in particular through the training of pastors. And it would be illogical for us to believe that the order in an institution that would serve the church in training of pastors should reverse that biblical logic.

ROBERTS: I can understand their concern. We’d rather err on the side of caution.

*TEXAN: Does your seminary grant tenure?

AKIN: We do not have tenure, but we do have election to faculty. It’s almost like tenure but it’s not. That was changed during Dr. Patterson’s administration when he was here.



ROBERTS: We do not. Midwestern uses teaching contracts. Our last tenured professor retired this past year.

JONES (Golden Gate): Yes.

*TEXAN: Briefly describe the process for electing a tenured professor (election to faculty in the case of Southeastern).

AKIN: It is a shared governance function where the administration, faculty, and trustees together make that determination and ultimately the election is a trustee determination. In essence it follows a process identical to a process that would be followed where a school was granting tenure to someone. If the dean and the president do not wish to carry a person to the trustees for the purpose of being considered, it never gets to the trustees.

KELLEY: It is very simple. It’s spelled in our faculty manual. Basically, after a person has taught a certain length of time they become eligible for tenure consideration. We are obligated to consider them for tenure at the time they become eligible. If we choose not to grant tenure to the professor—and it has happened—we explain to them why we are not going to be recommending them for tenure, and they have an opportunity in a year’s time to correct whatever the problems might be.

You do this whole general evaluation at several different levels. If there is a consensus that a person is granted tenure, he is presented to the trustees and the trustees make the ultimate decision. If the staff does not feel like the person is ready for tenure, that recommendation is not made.

In our process, a person would have a year to correct whatever deficiencies were pointed out to them. And at the end of that year, they would be evaluated again and if they had not had a suitable change or improvement or whatever, then they would be granted up to a year of employment but expected to leave sometime within that next year and seek other employment. All of this is automatic. Every professor knows this coming in that if they get to the point of their life they are eligible for tenure, they are not granted tenure, then they are going to have to leave the institution.

MOHLER: It begins with the president declaring a tenurial position. Then it moves to the faculty through its search committee process making a recommendation; receiving approval from the dean and then the president has the opportunity to interview the candidate and make the decision whether or not to present the candidate for election of tenure to the board of trustees.

ROBERTS: The president and VP for academic affairs conduct the search. Our faculty gives input regarding a candidate’s qualifications to teach in an area. Based on the recommendation of seminary administration, the trustees have final approval.

JONES: All faculty candidates are approved by our SBC-appointed trustees after being recommended by the president and vice president for academic affairs.

Forney pastor, Denton evangelist honored during Empower ’07

EULESS?Over a 33-year pastorate at First Baptist Church of Forney, Jerry Griffin saw more than 1,700 people come to saving faith. Now in his golden years, he’s returned to the church as senior adult pastor, serving alongside current pastor Jimmy Pritchard.

“One of the most faithful servants I have ever known in my life,” said SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass of Griffin as he introduced him as the recipient of the 2007 W.A. Criswell Lifetime Achievement Award for Pastoral Evangelism.

The Criswell Award, along with the Roy Fish Lifetime Achievement Award for Vocational Evangelism, which went to evangelist Rick Ingle, was presented Feb. 6 during the Empower Evangelism Conference at the First Baptist Church of Euless.

Cass told how Griffin, a Corsicana native, began as a pastor in college and has preached for 53 years. A Southwestern Seminary graduate, Griffin served as director of missions in Kauf-Van Association before returning to FBC Forney.

Ingle, the Fish Award recipient and a Denton resident, has preached more than 1,400 revival meetings in his ministry, including many engagements behind the Iron Curtain and in closed countries in Asia, Cass noted.

A Philadelphia native who was a youth gang leader before a five-year hitch in the Navy that included five court martial cases, Ingle was saved at the First Baptist Church of Victoria.

He is a Southwestern Seminary graduate and has two honorary doctorates.

Ingle devotes much of his time preaching at his own expense in small churches in the upper Midwest and Northeast. He refuses to accept honoraria from these churches, Cass explained.

Also on Feb. 6, the SBTC recognized churches with exceptional baptisms in 2006. By average Sunday attendance, they are:

?Churches over 2,500: Fellowship Church of Grapevine, 2,313 baptisms.

?Churches 1,500-2,000: First Baptist Colleyville, 264 baptisms.

?Churches 1,000-1,500: First Baptist Odessa, 164 baptisms.

?Churches 750-1,000: Seoul Baptist of Houston, 208 baptisms.

?Churches 500-750: First Baptist Little Elm, 69 baptisms.

?Churches 250-500: Exciting Emmanuel, El Paso, 104 baptisms.

?Churches 100-250: Willow Creek Fellowship, Plano, 130 baptisms.

?Churches 100 or fewer: Mount Zion Baptist, Athens, 97 baptisms.

UPDATE: Proposed bill would rescind governor’s order of HPV vaccine

AUSTIN?A bill approved Feb. 21 by the Texas House Committee on Public Health would rescind the controversial mandate by Gov. Rick Perry of a vaccine for pre-teen girls against the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer.

The committee voted 6-3 to forward the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Bonnen and about 90 co-sponsors among the 150 House members, reports in the Austin American-Statesman and the Dallas Morning News said.

Legislators in Austin had been gathering support in an effort to pressure the second-term Republican governor to rescind his executive order of Feb. 2, which caused a firestorm of criticism, especially from conservative groups angered over the mandating of the newly approved vaccine.

House Bill 1098 would prevent Texas public schools from using the vaccine as an enrollment requirement.

“My concern is, we just don’t know enough about this vaccine,” Bonnen, R-Angleton, told the Dallas Morning News. “This is about policy, not politics. But certainly [Gov. Perry] has created a great deal of support for us to not mandate this for 11-year-old girls.”

Also, on Feb. 20 a Texas state court judge refused Perry’s executive order to hasten permits for coal-burning utilities, a move that may call into question the governor’s ability to enforce directives, the Morning News reported.

Texas Baptist churches reaching out to some of 1.3 billion Chinese

GREENVILLE?Kevin Herbert had a stereotypical view of the work church groups do when they travel to China: “You go. You see some sites. You do some prayer walking.”

Beyond that, little could be accomplished in a Communist country, Herbert figured. His opinion changed in 2003, however, after he traveled there on a trip sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Four years later and with a handful of trips under his belt leading Texas church groups to mainland China, Herbert has become an advocate for church-based work among the Chinese, who number 1.3 billion people or four times the United States population.

Between 2-5 percent of Chinese are professing believers, Herbert said, which means nearly 1 billion are not.

Because the state is deemed supreme and man is viewed in evolutionary terms, “when you are speaking to the Chinese, you start with ‘There is a God who created you and loves you ? I’m not a monkey and there is a God,” Herbert said.

Twenty years ago, Southern Baptist church groups rarely traveled to China on short-term mission trips. Today, however, “The IMB is saying, ‘Please, send those five to 10 people and help us make significant progress among the Chinese people,” Herbert said.

To that end, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is planning a “Heart for China” workshop March 5-9 for pastors and church leaders interested in doing short-term, church-based ministry in China. The workshop will be at the church where Herbert is pastor?t1:PlaceName w:st=”on”>Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Greenville.

Through a partnership with the SBTC and the International Mission Board, SBTC church groups may travel there for short-term work in English language instruction, prayer walking, sports outreach, encouragement ministry, and street ministry.

Herbert said since 2003 he has taken around 100 Texans with him to China with fruitful results, mostly from English language instruction and sports outreach.

“Of those, a good percentage have gone back,” Herbert said. “Before we return to the U.S., they are saying, ‘OK, now next year we’ll do this or that.”

The Chinese people are eager to learn English from Americans, “which often leads to more relational dialogue,” Herbert said.

Also, the Chinese are very interested in athletics. “Basketball is huge,” he said. “Outside of soccer, basketball is it. Yao Ming [Houston Rockets] is well known. Michael Jordan is huge.”

With the 2008 Summer Olympic Games planned for Bejing, news coverage of China will escalate.

“That’s good for me because that promotes the work even more,” Herbert said. In a 10-day to two-week period, “you can have an impact.”

This year Herbert is overseeing three trips to China