Month: January 2008

When Time is No More’ to be focus of Empower Evangelism Conference

EULESS?All eyes and ears will be on eternity during the SBTC’s Empower Evangelism Conference to be held Feb. 4-6 at First Baptist Church in Euless.

“When Time is No More,” based on Revelation 1:7, will be the theme for the annual conference featuring some of America’s finest evangelists, pastors, seminary professors, women’s speakers and musicians.

“I chose Revelation 1:7 because it proclaims the second coming of Jesus clearly and definitely,” said Don Cass, SBTC director of evangelism. “And that’s why I named the conference ‘When Time is No More.’ We want to reinforce the urgency of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“I want Texas Baptists to know that this is a conference for everyone, and there is no admission charge to hear these great speakers.”

The women’s conference, which precedes the general session, begins at 1:30 on Monday afternoon (Feb. 4) with June Hunt, Liliana Lewis, Barbara O’Chester and Katie Dyke-Kinsey. Each is on the cutting edge of the social and moral issues that face today’s women and their families.

Preachers and speakers for the Empower Evangelism Conference, beginning Monday evening, include Ergun Caner, Bob Pitman, Norm Miller, John Meador, John Morgan, Claude Cone, Herb Reavis, Michael Gott, David Ring, Paige Patterson, John Moldovan, Bailey Stone, Len Turner, and David Ring.

Among the musicians will be John McKay, music evangelist and SBTC evangelism consultant, and the Annie Moses Band of Nashville.

For more information on the Empower Evangelism Conference, visit the website or call the SBTC’s evangelism ministry at 817-552-2500 or toll-free at 877-953-7282.

Protest period ends Feb. 17 for Six Flags liquor license approval

FORT WORTH?The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission continues to field protests to an application from Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor in Arlington to sell beer in what has long been known as a family-oriented entertainment venue.

According to reporting by Sharon Geiger of KCBI-FM, the radio station of Criswell College in Dallas, staff from TABC explained the protest process during a Jan. 3 meeting in Fort Worth.

“Do we really want to send our youth groups?our church youth groups?to places where alcohol is served?” asked listener and activist Linda Rosebury in an interview with KCBI. She said the sale of beer threatens the park’s image as a safe place for families.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Andrea Ahles wrote that TABC had received 600 calls and a dozen letters as of her Jan. 8 report, all of them protesting the action announced by Six Flags on Dec. 17 to apply for liquor licenses. The mandatory 60-day waiting period ends Feb. 17 and then TABC will review the application, protests received, and determines whether a public hearing will be held.

Six Flags officials claim the effort is in response to customer requests for beer and pledged that such sales would be handled responsibly and ensure guest safety.

Noting the park’s pledge to offer quality guest services, John Bement, Six Flags In-Park Services senior vice president, told the TEXAN, “For quite some time, many of our guests have requested beer as an option while dining or visiting the park. In fact, several of the parks in the Six Flags system already provide such amenities and have done so successfully and responsibly for many years.”

Bement added, “As with our other parks, we will have very strict guidelines in place for Six Flags Over Texas, along with extensive training to ensure the serving of beer is done in a controlled and responsible manner. We only intend to sell beer and have no present plans to offer mixed drinks or hard liquor like some of our other competitors such as Schlitterbaun.”

Letter writers raised a variety of concerns, with one noting that TABC should conduct an Alcohol Impact Study to determine the threat to public safety and another urging the City of Arlington to protest the action as well.

The TABC website at features information about protesting an application for a permit under the license section.

“Some grounds exist for refusal or denial that are subject to interpretation on the basis of the facts involved,” the TABC website states.

Sections of the pertinent code provide for protests based on facts which show that the manner in which the business is operated or the place the business is located is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the public.

“These sections of the code generate the most numerous and complex cases,” according to the website statement which goes on to outline the process for filing a sworn statement of protest.

SBTC lawyer Shelby Sharpe explained that any citizen desiring to protest the sale of alcoholic beverages at Six Flags Over Texas (2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington, TX 76010) and Hurricane Harbor (1800 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, TX 76006) must file a protest with the TABS by Feb. 17, submitting a sworn statement identifying each applicant and requesting that the administrator refuse to approve the application for stated legal grounds.

“A sworn statement is one signed under oath before a notary public,” Sharpe said.

“If a protestor believes that these entertainment places are not appropriate places for the sale of alcoholic beverages,” then Sharpe said the protestor should consider stating as the legal ground for his protestthe statement found inSection 11.46 (8) of the TAB Code?the “place … in which the applicant may conduct business warrants the refusal of a permitbased on the general welfare, health, peace, morals, and safety of the people and of the public sense of decency.'”

Sharpe cited one argument in support of this legal ground is that if alcohol permits are denied because of the close proximity of a residence, church, school or day-care facility to the place where alcoholic beverages are to be sold and no approval would occur to sell these beverages in a school or day-care facility, then these entertainment places should be denied a permit since they are attended more by children accompanied by their parents or someone responsible for their welfare.

For more information, contact a local TABC office or write P.O. Box 13127, Austin, TX 78711 or call 512-206-3333. Local TABC offices are posted online or can be obtained by calling the Austin office.
To express concern to Six Flags management about the decision call Guest Relations at 817-640-8900 or 817-530-6000 or write to: Six Flags Over Texas, 2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington, TX 76010 and Hurricane Harbor, 1800 E. Lamar Blvd., Arlington, TX 76006.

Country Church of Marion a model for reaching Texas, strategist says

MARION?Ten years ago seven people met in the living room of the Ikels home in Marion to start The Country Church. As the church approaches their 10-year anniversary, the group of seven has grown to 2,300 members, with an additional 1,000 people meeting at their nine church starts.

The Country Church of Marion, however, is more than a single congregation. It is also a model for a unique approach to ministry and the flagship church of a church planting movement that is gathering momentum across Texas.

“The Country Church stands as a testimony of his power and his glory,” pastor Butch Ikels said.
The blue-jean-casual atmosphere, barnyard chic décor, twang-laden country Gospel music, and homespun sermon illustrations fit well for people accustomed to the rural lifestyle.

“There are three kinds of people in Texas: those who came from the country, those who live in the country, and those who want to live in the country,” said Jim Gatliff, SBTC shared ministry strategist.

“The Country Church is a model for doing church that is, from the horns to the hoof, truly Texan.”
Gatliff estimates that a minimum of 30 percent of the Texas population would feel at home in a country church.

The common love for the simple country life and “plain folks” community are among the threads weaving together the diverse membership of horse trainers, veterinarians, bank presidents, factory workers, tradesmen, teachers, and ranchers.

Some members will drive as far as 60 miles to attend services. Attendance is so high on Sunday mornings, the church needs a sheriff’s deputy to help dismiss traffic onto FM 78. Ikels said they are the only church in the county needing this assistance. On any given Sunday, the attendance of the church will exceed the total population of the town of Marion.

“Many people might confuse the country church movement with the cowboy church movement, but the two approaches are as different as hogs and dogs,” Gatliff said.

“The Country Church has preserved the public invitation in the worship service, but most cowboy churches do not have altar calls. The Country Church has Sunday morning Bible study classes, but most cowboy churches have only short-term home-based Bible study groups. The Country Church has organized visitation and intensive follow-up classes for new Christians, where most cowboy churches rely on more informal approaches for outreach and discipleship. For the cowboy church, arena ministry is central, but for The Country Church, it is just one ministry among many others,” Gatliff said.

Other differences between country churches and cowboy churches and traditional rural churches are harder to spot. Most Baptist cowboy churches in Texas have an elder-led polity, but The Country Church is more pastor- and staff-led in its approach. A group of trustees serve as an accountability group for the pastor. Although the church has an unusually large number of deacons who serve in the church in numerous ways, they do not function as a decision-making body.

“The highly empowered pastor and staff may be as responsible as anything for the country church’s explosive growth,” Gatliff said. “If the staff feels led of the Lord to do an outreach event or something, they are able to gather up some folks to help, and they get it done without having to go through a bunch of committees and red tape.”

The Country Church of Marion, in fact, has no committees and very rarely has business meetings. Every dollar received by The Country Church in its general offerings is “pre-budgeted” on a percentage basis to missions, building expenses, ministry expenses, and staffing.

“The percentage approach enables us to pay for everything as we go, to never spend more than we have, and to do what we need to do,” Ikels said. “Instead of sitting in endless committee meetings, our approach enables our members to spend more time in visitation and hands-on ministry.”

On rare occasions the explosive growth of the church has required that the church depart from its simple budgeting formula. Three years ago, when weekly crowds overwhelmed the existing buildings, church members responded to a call to pray and give to the $175,000 needed to purchase eight acres of land for expansion. One week after the call to give, the milk cans in the aisles used to collect the building fund each week held a total of $191,000 in offerings for the purchase.

“Some said it [the model] would work when the church was small, but not when it grew ? it works better now with 2,300 than it did with nine,” Ikels said.

The hallmark of The Country Church is evangelism.

“Sixty-one percent of our members have come in by conversion and baptism,” Ikels said. The church sends out teams of members to do outreach visitation several nights each week.

For Abel Garcia, the visitation program is an opportunity to see “the Lord bring another soul to his kingdom ? that’s what I enjoy the most.”

Garcia met Ikels when he visited his home, and invited him to a Thursday evening service. That evening he made a decision for Christ, was baptized Sunday, and joined the visitation ministry Monday.

Throughout the week church members can also be found in the county jail doing prison ministry or helping plan a county-wide country breakfast at the church. Senior citizen church members lead the benevolence ministry, where 300 people have made salvation decisions through the ministry.

A Thursday night meal that is free and open to anyone is another important entry point for people to come into the church. The church also hosts community-wide meals at certain times of the year. An annual car show is another avenue the church uses to discover prospects and evangelize people.

A recent addition to The Country Church is their arena, where the church regularly presents the gospel at various equestrian events. One such ministry that has opened numerous doors in the community is the church’s breaking and training of a mustang each year to compete in a series of wild horse events across the state.

Ikels and the other pastors of the congregations that make up the Community of Country Churches have a Texas-sized vision for starting many more churches of their kind. According to Ikels, just about any county seat, town, or wide place in the road is a potential location for starting a country church.

“Texas is a mix of lots of cultures and people groups. It takes Bible-believing churches of all styles to reach them … because our mission field is so vast,” said Robby Partain, SBTC missions director.

“The Country Church has done an exemplary job of evangelism.They are a missionary expression of the body of Christ reaching a unique part of the Texas mosaic. I’m glad they have a heart for church planting.We need more expressions of the country church model in the Texas mission field,” Partain said.

Time, technology on the side of life

I recall a conversation almost two decades ago with a public school administrator who was sure I’d grow out of my opposition to abortion.

I was a reporter in my first newspaper gig, fresh out of college. A few of us were making small talk outside the school administration building in Shawnee, Okla., waiting on the local school board to finish its closed-door deliberations. Abortion came up in the discussion, and I explained my right-to-life views, to which the transplanted Northerner responded, “Oh, you must be a good Catholic boy.”

Nope, I explained, a Baptist.

“Well, trust me, one of these days your views will change,” he told me in a polite smugness.

He didn’t believe what I believe, apparently?that a loving, sovereign God shapes and molds us by his providential hand from the moment of conception. I’m more convinced than ever that every human embryo, armed with a complete genetic blueprint for a uniquely tailored human being, has sanctity from conception.

If that polite but misguided man were having the same conversation today with a young reporter, I doubt he’d be as eager to assert that the reporter would someday change his mind or assume such a person was a Roman Catholic.

Thankfully, times are changing, as are attitudes.

(Thankfully, also, Southern Baptists are on record as having changed since the 1970s and early 1980s, when the SBC’s Christian Life Commission spoke?profoundly out of step with its constituents?from a pro-choice position, calling absolute opposition to legal abortion “morally unacceptable.”)

More than anything, technology has made it difficult to defend the legal killing of babies in the womb, no matter how difficult the circumstance a young mother finds herself in.

Here’s what we know:
?At around 22 days after conception, the heart begins to beat with the child’s own blood.
?After three weeks the spinal column and nervous system are developing and the liver, kidneys and intestines begin to take shape.
?After five weeks the eyes, legs, and hands begin to develop. Many women don’t even know they are pregnant at this point.
?By the eighth week, the child is kicking and making swimming motions, every organ is in place and bones are beginning to replace cartilage.
?At 20 weeks the baby can recognize its mother’s voice, some researchers believe.

Some of this knowledge of fetal development is not new, but thanks to advancing medical technology, the idea of a fetus as mere tissue is harder to sell than it was when the Roe v. Wade decision nationalized legal abortion 35 years ago this month.

Thanks to faithful crisis pregnancy ministries from Maine to California, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of babies have seen life instead of death. As loving grandmas and stay-at-home moms, armed with sonograms and prayers, lend a caring ear to mothers in distress, lives are being changed daily for time and for eternity.

On another front, the apparent shortage of young feminist activists demanding so-called “reproductive rights” is cause for rejoicing for pro-lifers and cause for concern for the abortion lobby.

For example, Glamour magazine in 2005 lamented a “mysterious disappearance of young pro-choice women” while responding to a 2003 CBS/New York Times poll that found only 35 percent of women 18-29 believed “abortion should be available to anyone who wants it.”?a 15 percentage-point drop over a decade.

And statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute show the number of abortions performed annually has been dropping?albeit slightly. In a Guttmacher study released Jan. 17, there were 1.21 million abortions reported in 2005?the lowest total in three decades and down from 1.6 million abortions in 1990. The CDC reported a similar finding in its 2004 total.

The stigma associated with abortion has heightened since Roe v. Wade as well, with reports of decreasing numbers of medical school students willing to learn abortion procedures.

Even in the more liberal United Kingdom, a report on the website of noted the increasing number of students there unwilling to perform abortions.

One physician desperately griped, “It may not be the most glamorous medical specialty on the face of it, compared to stem cell research or neurosurgery, but it is seen as heroic work by the women that it helps.”

A 20-year veteran of abortion practice added, “Becoming pregnant is either the best, or the worst thing that can happen to a woman.”

Really? The worst thing that can happen?

Pregnancy is a lot of things, and it can be traumatic for a single woman who is ill prepared to raise a child, as well as everyone involved. But there are numerous things more gut wrenching in life than a pregnancy?even in the worst of circumstances. In fact, when loving, caring Christian believers enter the picture, an unplanned pregnancy can become a redemptive event.

What the two doctors in Britain are afraid to admit is that for millions of post-Baby Boomer young people, abortion is a nauseating thought, even for those who consider themselves pro-choice.

Technology that allows today’s youths to peer into the womb?not to mention the numbing absence of more than 40 million of their peers?have made it so.

It might also be that the kids of the divorce generation are turned off by the me-first attitudes of their parents, many of whom sacrificed their children and families on the altar of self-fulfillment.

What could be more rebellious to that way of thinking for the generation that endured no-fault divorce and abortion on demand than to embrace a nurturing, caring mentality for their offspring?
Much work remains, but the wall is crumbling. Keep pushing on it.

Women’s Session to hear from radio ministry host, longtime retreat leader, among others

A radio Bible teacher and counselor, two pastors’ wives and a musician headline the Women’s Session of the Empower Evangelism Conference the afternoon of Feb. 4 (Monday).

The session will begin at 1:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Euless with June Hunt, Lilliana Lewis, Barbara O’Chester and Katie Dyke-Kinsey. The session concludes at 4 p.m.

Hunt is an author, singer, speaker, and founder of Dallas-based “Hope for the Heart,” a worldwide biblical counseling ministry that features an award-winning radio broadcast by the same name heard daily across America. Additionally, “Hope In The Night” is Hunt’s live two-hour call-in counseling program that helps people work through problems with biblical hope and practical help.

Hunt holds an M.A. in counseling from Criswell College. Her books include more than 30 topical HopeBooks and the 31-day devotional “Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes,” often used in counseling offices, churches, and small group Bible studies.

Hunt has also toured overseas as a musician with the USO and been a guest soloist with the Billy Graham Crusades.

Barbara O’Chester is the wife of Harold O’Chester, who served 34 years as pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin. The couple has been married 50 years. She taught at numerous ladies’ retreats through a ministry begun in 1969 at Great Hills.

She has been married to Harold O’Chester for 50 years. They have 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren.
Harold and Barbara received as a couple the outstanding alumni award from New Orleans Seminary. In 2003 Barbara received the J.M. Dawson Award for Distinguished Service at the Southern Baptist Ministers’ Wives luncheon at the SBC Annual Meeting.

The O’Chesters recently moved to Wake Forest, N.C.

A Mexico City native, Liliana Lewis received her bachelor of science degree in Bible with a minor in general ministries and a concentration in elementary education from Columbia International University, Columbia, S.C. in June 1991. Also, she is a graduate of the Academy of Dance, a school for professional ballet, in Mexico City.

The wife of Michael Lewis, pastor of Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Lewis met her husband while the two were college students. They have three daughters, Charity, Faith and Hope.

Lewis has a passion for leading women’s Bible Studies and enjoys speaking to women and to college students. She currently teaches a sixth-grade Bible Life Group and assists in the church’s AWANA program in addition to other areas of the church and the community.

Singer Katie Dyke-Kinsey has a ministry geared toward helping the hurting, lifting up those who have fallen, and reaching the lost. She has been in the music ministry from the age of 7, traveling with her family, The Griffins, and singing across the nation.

She is the mother of six children who believes that her greatest ministry is at home with her family. Katie’s vision is that God would use her and her family to bring hope to a lost and dying world and show them that there is joy even in suffering.

Spanish-language portion of conference features Garland rally, Euless workshops

EULESS?The Spanish-language portion of the Empower Evangelism Conference will begin Feb. 3 with a rally in Garland and continue the next day at First Baptist Church of Euless.
Below is a list of workshops, speakers and schedule for the Spanish-language Rally and Session:

Spanish-language Rally?Sunday, Feb. 3, 6-8:30 p.m., Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, 2000 S. First, Garland.
Six Workshops?Beginning at 9 a.m. Feb 4 in the Campus West Building of First Baptist Church, Euless.

“Evangelizing in View of His Coming”?Mickey Muñoz
“Reaching the Samaritan in Our Midst”?Daniel Sánchez
“How to Reach the World in Our Jerusalem”?Jason Carlisle
“Reaching Our Children While There’s Time”?Minnie Molengraf
“The Urgency to Share the Message of Christ Today”?Jorge Díaz
“How to Develop an Outreach and Evangelism Strategy in the Hispanic Church”?Sergio Arce

Spanish-language Session?Beginning at 1:15 p.m. Feb. 4 in the Campus West Building of First Baptist Church, Euless.

Jorge Díaz, director of the Spanish Baptist Publishing House in El Paso
Jason Carlisle, Hispanic consultant, International Mission Board
WORSHIP LEADER (Spanish Session): Israel Arguello

Arturo Aguado?pastor, Iglesia Bautista Salvación Eterna, Hitchcock
Sergio Arce?LifeWay Christian Resources
Israel Arguello?pianist, Inglewood Baptist Church, Grand Prairie
Jason Carlisle?Hispanic consultant, International Mission Board
Don Cass?evangelism director, SBTC, Grapevine
Kyle Cox?area ministry coordinator, SBTC, Grapevine
Terry Coy?senior church planting strategist, SBTC, Grapevine
Jorge Enrique Díaz?Spanish Baptist Publishing House director, El Paso
Mike Gonzales?Hispanic Initiative and Ethnic Ministries director, SBTC, Grapevine
Aaron Greenway?singer, Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, Garland
Grupo de Alabanza Nueva Vida?Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, Garland
Gordon Molengraf?Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor, Grandbury
Minnie Molengraf?Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor, Grandbury
Mario A. Moreno?pastor, Iglesia Bautista Fuente de Vida, Brenham
Mickey Muñoz?pastor and evangelist, La Luz Ministries Worship Center, Odessa
Jaime Rodríguez?pastor, Iglesia Bautista El Buen Pastor, Grandbury
Daniel Sánchez?director of the Scarborough Institute and professor, SWBTS, Fort Worth
David Silva?pastor, Iglesia Bautista Salvación Eterna, Pasadena

Southwestern news release

Editor’s note: The following is a press statement from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson regarding charges from a victim’s rights organization that he knowingly covered up sexual abuse by a pastor while Patterson was president of Criswell College in early 1990s.

Statement from Dr. Paige Patterson
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas
817-923-1921 ext. 3010

Jan. 9, 2008

In recent days, Christa Brown and the SNAP organization have alleged that years ago, and even in the present, I have protected Darrell Gilyard, most recently the Pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, when he was involved in sexual misconduct. These snap judgments by Brown and others are misinformed and inaccurate.

Early in Mr. Gilyard’s career when he was a student at the Criswell College, I had great hope that this young African-American minister would be greatly used of God, and I believed his testimony?a portion of which proved at a later time to be fabricated. In addition to that, I fondly hoped that he would walk worthy of his calling in purity of life and heart. He chose not to do that.

Nearly two decades ago, I was neither an investigator nor a judge but the president of a small Bible college. I certainly did not have resources available to me to pursue the case, yet I did all that I could within my means to discover the truth when allegations concerning Mr. Gilyard were brought to my attention. Until such time as I could ascertain that Darrell Gilyard was in fact guilty as alleged, I could not make any charge against him. Part of justice includes not making charges against people until one can substantiate those charges. This is a lesson from which SNAP could profit.

Once I had investigated the matter and was able to substantiate that Mr. Gilyard was guilty, I got him to confess that guilt publicly; I expelled him from the Criswell College so that he was never allowed to complete his degree there; and I moderated the business meeting at Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas, the night he, in response to my insistence, resigned his position as pastor.

Since that day, I have had nothing to do with Darrell Gilyard and have only seen him on one occasion when he visited the Southwestern Seminary campus during the time the Seminary was hosting a preaching conference. I do not and have not endorsed his ministry or work and have made crystal clear to Mr. Gilyard that on the basis of his behavior, as well as his divorce, he has no business serving as pastor of a local church.

However, I exercise no control over autonomous churches anywhere and have no influence when they are not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. I have done everything that I know to do to act justly and at the same time protect as many people as possible from the behavioral pattern of Darrell Gilyard. Once Gilyard was proven guilty, I attested to that guilt to every individual who contacted me for a recommendation or character reference.

Throughout my fifty years in the ministry, including the time that I served as president of the Criswell College, I have never turned a blind-eye to clergy sex abuse as the SNAP organization purports. Clergy sex abuse is one of the greatest tragedies of the modern era, and in the classroom and in the pulpit I have steadfastly fought and will continue to warn and fight against it. Throughout my years in theological education, I have routinely addressed the subject with every incoming class and again with every graduating class.

Southwestern president responds to victims’ rights group criticism

FORT WORTH–An activist organization that describes itself as a “group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures” has once again made headlines by attempting to tie allegations of abuse by a non-Southern Baptist pastor to what they describe as a Southern Baptist entity leader’s “blind-eyed response to clergy sex abuse” 16 years ago.

The widely distributed news release, which accuses Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson of negligence in the early 1990s in dealing with the pastor in question, found a quick venue for further distribution by the alternative media outlet, a forum founded by moderate Baptists who routinely offer objections to the conservative leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Meanwhile, Patterson released a statement Jan. 9 disputing the news release from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). It noted that the pastor, Darrell Gilyard, was expelled from Criswell College when Patterson was president once his guilt was substantiated. Patterson said he even moderated the meeting during which Gilyard resigned the church he pastored as a Criswell student.

According to the Florida Times-Union, Gilyard resigned Jan. 8 from Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., following allegations he sent an obscene text message to a minor’s cell phone. A Shiloh church representative confirmed that the congregation Gilyard has pastored for the last 14 years is not affiliated with Southern Baptists.

Gilyard previously was pastor of a Richardson congregation called Victory Baptist Church, but resigned at the age of 29 after accusations of sexual impropriety. The Texas church is not listed in affiliation with the SBC nor either of the state Baptist conventions.

SNAP frequently identifies alleged abuse followed by an effort to draw media attention to religious bodies the group believes have been negligent. Southern Baptists, unlike Roman Catholics and other denominations with a hierarchy, have autonomous churches and the denomination has no authority structure to dictate the hiring or discipline practices of local churches.

In this most recent instance, SNAP released a letter to trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary urging suspension of Patterson, whom they accuse of failing to protect students at Criswell College when he was president and Gilyard was a student. SNAP cited a Dallas Morning News article from 1991 that reported that several students relayed to Patterson suspicions of abuse by Gilyard.

SNAP then blames Patterson for “failing to warn others at risk about a reported serial predator,” adding that the accused pastor “was allowed to move on”–a charge Patterson disputes.

SNAP’s Christa Brown of Austin wrote, “More innocent and vulnerable Baptist teens and young people suffered because of Patterson’s secrecy. Those who make immoral and insensitive responses to clergy sex abuse should not be in positions of leadership for religious institutions.”

Brown has made similar guilt-by-association charges in the past, but apologized to Southern Baptist leaders Feb. 22, 2007, for making false accusations that leaders had not responded to the group’s letters.

When given a forum at a workgroup meeting of the Executive Committee, Brown told of being raped as a minor by a man who continued working at a Southern Baptist church. Another SNAP representative said their organization depends on the press to solve the problem, alleging that churches do not.

Patterson, in his statement, called the “snap judgments” by Brown and others both misinformed and inaccurate.

“Throughout my 50 years in the ministry, including that time that I served as president of the Criswell College, I have never turned a blind-eye to clergy sex abuse as the SNAP organization purports,” he stated. “Clergy sex abuse is one of the greatest tragedies of the modern era, and in the classroom and in the pulpit I have steadfastly fought and will continue to warn and fight against it.”

Patterson said he routinely addresses the subject with every incoming class and again with every graduating class.

Recalling his observation of Gilyard’s career while a student in the early 1990s, Patterson said he had great hope that God would use the testimony of the young minister, and then later learned a portion of the well-publicized account that Gilyard had been homeless was fabricated.

“I fondly hoped he would walk worthy of his calling in purity of life and heart. He chose not to do that,” Patterson stated.

“Nearly two decades ago, I was neither an investigator nor a judge, but the president of a small Bible college. I certainly did not have resources available to me to pursue the case, yet I did all that I could within my means to discover the truth when allegations concerning Mr. Gilyard were brought to my attention,” he continued, noting that part of justice includes not making charges against people until one can substantiate them–a lesson he said SNAP could profit from learning.

“Once I had investigated the matter and was able to substantiate that Mr. Gilyard was guilty, I got him to confess that guilt publicly.”

Furthermore, Patterson said he expelled Gilyard from school, preventing him from completing his degree there. He also moderated the business meeting at the Richardson church on the night when Gilyard resigned the pastorate at Patterson’s insistence.

“Since that day, I have had nothing to do with Darrell Gilyard and have only seen him on one occasion when he visited the Southwestern Seminary campus during the time the seminary was hosting a preaching conference. I do not and have not endorsed his ministry or work and have made crystal clear to Mr. Gilyard that on the basis of his behavior, as well as his divorce, he has no business serving as pastor of a local church.”

Patterson restated Southern Baptist polity affecting such circumstances, noting that he exercises no control over autonomous churches, nor does he control whether they affiliate with the SBC.

“I have done everything that I know to do to act justly and at the same time protect as many people as possible from the behavioral pattern of Darrell Gilyard. Once Gilyard was proven guilty, I attested to that guilt to every individual who contacted me for a recommendation or character reference.”

The Southern Baptist Convention advises Southern Baptist churches to address criminal acts by those in ministerial positions and to utilize resources for screening preschool and children’s workers already in place.

“We have repeatedly encouraged our churches to exercise due diligence in background research when considering a prospective minister or volunteer, but that due diligence cannot be mandated,” wrote Augie Boto, SBC general counsel and vice president for convention policy, in a response last year to SNAP.

He clarified that “the Southern Baptist Convention structure leaves the responsibility for such matters in the hands of those most motivated and capable of addressing it–the members of the local churches–many of whom are parents and grandparents.

In the fall of last year, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention contracted with Child Guard Systems of Richardson to serve as a resource for its 1,975 churches to provide “safety for children and integrity for ministries.”

With the goal of providing “safety for children and integrity for ministries,” SBTC promotes a “Safe Kids” approach to assist affiliated churches in this critical area. The approach of the company includes criminal background checks, but goes further by providing a customized training and testing program for church ministries.

Messengers in annual meetings of both the SBTC and SBC have passed strong statements addressing child abuse. The resources recommended by both entities are linked on their websites at and

The dangerous turf near the manger

Memo to presidential candidates: Merry Christmas wishes are fine. Keep it generic. Do not, repeat, do not mention the name of that babe in the manger. And God forbid, don’t allow bookshelves to intersect behind you. No intersecting. Got it?


Apparently, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee didn’t, because his Christmas TV ad — which is drawing hellfire and brimstone from some media pundits and the Jesus-phobes among us — goes so far as to note that Christmas is a celebration of — are you ready? — “the birth of Christ.”


Can you hear that pin drop yet?


It gets more sinister: A few seconds into the ad, as the camera pans across Huckabee’s talking head toward a Christmas tree, a cross-like shape is discernable by the unfortunate intersecting of bookshelf columns a few feet behind Huckabee.


Commenting on the ads of presidential candidates on MSNBC’s “Hardball” program for host Chris Matthews, Madison Avenue guru Donnie Deutsche said of Huckebee’s ad: “That is one of the most frightening things I’ve seen in a long time, I gotta say.”


The host of MSNBC’s “The Big Idea” program, Deutsche said Huckabee’s ad might play well in some of the more “narrow” parts of the country, but the ad is on “dangerous turf.”


Dangerous turf?


The ad is debatable, but the outcry from the offended parties proves a point: Two-thousand years after the Messiah arrived with no earthly fanfare in a Bethlehem stable, a good number of people still view him as a threat, not as something glorious but as something terrible; not as good news, but the worst possible news.


And those who had the most to lose in the first century by his coming?the greedy, the self indulgent, the powerful, the self righteous?are not unlike those who have the most to lose today by his kingship and his rightful claim on their hearts.


Guys like Donnie Deutsche are not uncommon. They are threatened, as we all were in our trespasses and sins, by the one who would be the king of their hearts.


But Jesus has always been a divisive figure. He knew it. We should know it.


He said he came to turn family member against family member, not in some wishful sense, but as the inevitable result of conversion (Matthew 10:35). And Paul reminds us that to those who are perishing, the witness of Christ is the aroma of death, but to those who are being saved, it is the aroma of life (2 Corinthians 2:16).


The fuss over Christmas signals a threshold has been broken: that of stale sentiment. Perhaps the bookshelf was Providential TV at its best. Whatever the case, it’s a good reminder that the babe in the manger is still the most controversial figure in history.


If you think about it this Christmas, pray for Donnie Deutsche and others like him who see the danger, not the joy, in the Savior’s birth. It need not be that way.