Month: November 2008

Debate over evolution instruction in public schools centers on Texas

Should students in public schools be taught science by examining arguments showing the strengths and weaknesses in evolution, or should they be taught only the materialistic or naturalistic strengths of evolution?

That is the question creating a firestorm of controversy at the State Board of Education (SBOE) and drawing attention as the nation watches to see what Texas does.

The SBOE’s proposal of retaining the current standards for teaching the pros and cons of theories, including evolution, is up for review.

Ironically, this places those who doubt Darwin wanting more content taught on evolution, while the Darwinist camp wants to censor all talk of weaknesses in evolutionary theory.

SBOE Chairman Don McLeroy said that contrary to allegations, the state board is not seeking to introduce religion into the science classrooms, nor is it requiring supernatural explanations in the textbooks.

“We are responsible for adopting TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), which are the minimum expectations that students need to know,” McLeroy said. “We are not asking for intelligent design or creationism to be taught in public schools. We are saying, ‘Let’s keep the “strengths and weaknesses” clause in the TEKS.'”

The current Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills requirements, adopted in 1998, state that the student is expected to “analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.”

McLeroy said that he and others are proposing to keep the current standard in all science textbooks, especially biology, as it is in other sciences such as chemistry and astronomy. However, others including Darwinists and many members of the mainstream media are fighting to change the standards to deny any criticism of evolution, he said.

Those groups argue that there are no weaknesses in evolution and that students should learn evolutionary theories without question in order for them to be prepared for the 21st century. Although this proposed change is not new, one recently formed group, the 21st Century Science Coalition, held a press conference on Sept. 30 in Austin to state categorically that the weaknesses in evolution simply “do not exist.”

Dan Quinn, communications director of another evolution-only group, the Texas Freedom Network, told the Southern Baptist TEXAN that the “weaknesses of evolution” have been debunked.

“One scientist after another has shown repeatedly that (arguments showing weaknesses in evolution) are bogus,” Quinn said. “These phony weaknesses being promoted are not sound weaknesses.”

Saying that teaching creationism in the public school would actually interfere with the religious education of parents to their children, Quinn stated that instead, “our public schools are preparing kids to succeed in college and jobs in the future, giving a 21st-century science education.”

McLeroy, a dentist and an admitted creationist, has said he is not pushing for the teaching of intelligent design or creationism. ID acknowledges evidence that the universe bears the marks of design. Creationism is a religious viewpoint that teaches that God created the heavens and earth, often meaning a belief in a six-day biblical creation.

The two ideas are different by definition, with some ID proponents not holding to biblical creationism or even monotheism. Nevertheless, some evolution-only groups, such as the Texas Citizens for Science, have attempted to label ID proponents as “Intelligent Design Creationists.” An Associated Press story this fall also used ID and creationism interchangeably.

The Darwinist groups are convinced that teaching about alleged weaknesses in evolution is a “back-door” entrance for supernatural explanations in science, and that teaching of supernaturalism is contrary to science.

“Scientists will be the first to tell you that science does not have the answer to everything. But it is a leap to say that finding new areas of research represents weaknesses to the theory of evolution, because evolution is one of the most strongly supported scientific concepts,” Quinn said. “If they want to show intelligent design is truly science, they should do what thousands of scientists have been doing for hundreds of years, by showing the proof,” Quinn challenged.

McLeroy said such statements only add to his desire to put both the pros and cons of evolution into the textbooks for students, allowing high school students to think critically about generally held theories of science and question if those theories are valid. Such critical thinking would be stymied if only one side of the argument was presented.

He also cited an Oct. 22 column in the Houston Chronicle by Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science. In the column, which argued against “anti-evolution teaching,” Leshner said: “They (intelligent design advocates) say that students need to hear about the strengths and weaknesses of evolution, which of course is true.”

McLeroy said that even in Leshner’s argument in favor of teaching evolution only, he admits that there are weaknesses in evolutionary theory and that they should be taught.

As one group put it, “Teach more evolution, not less strengths and weaknesses–and let the fittest theories survive,” (Texans for Better Science Education, online at

That website also quotes Charles Darwin, who wrote, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” (from “The Origin of Species”).

McLeroy has served on the state board since 1998 and was appointed as chairman in July 2007. Over the years, he has led the charge against the errors in Texas textbooks which have repeatedly appeared in support of evolution, even though those errors have been debunked in at least one case for more than 100 years.

A case in point is the Haeckel’s embryos diagram that purportedly showed that all embryos show the same evolutionary history. The problem is that Ernst Haeckel was exposed in the late 1800s as a fraud.
Fellow SBOE member Terri Leo, quoted in the Houston Chronicle in 2003, said that the “SBOE received volumes of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that documents textbook problems relating to origin of life research, embryology, the Cambrian Explosion, the distinction between microevolution and macroevolution and peppered moth research.”

Leo, who has served on the board since 2003, is a teacher and earned her master’s degree with honors in educational administration from Texas A&M-Commerce, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Dakota. In her letter to the Chronicle, she ridiculed the argument by Darwinists that “students are smart enough to study the strengths of evolutionary theory, but not smart enough to understand the weaknesses.”

McLeroy said another potential battle coming up in the SBOE meetings is the definition of science itself.

“The National Academy of Sciences in its recent booklet ‘Science, Evolution and Creationism, 2008,’ defines science as ‘the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process,'” McLeroy said.

Even though he disagrees with conclusions from the Academy, such as that “creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science,” he agrees with its definition of science.

“This definition should be acceptable to both sides of this (evolution’s weaknesses) argument.”

McLeroy reiterated: “That’s what the battle is over. We are not asking for intelligent design or creationism to be taught. We want the state standards to be kept at the present standard. And currently, the TEKS do not define what science is and I would like to use the definition of the National Academy of Sciences definition.”

So far, the mainstream media has mostly characterized this battle as a struggle to force creationism or intelligent design into the public schools, but in reality it is a matter of selecting textbooks that would educate the students of strengths and weaknesses of all types of theories so that they can come up with an informed answer, McLeroy insisted.

Another battle is expected this month when the selection of science textbooks begins. Evolution proponents like Texas Citizens for Science have lambasted half of the six-member science standard review panel not on their credentials, but because three of the six have supported intelligent design.

The SBOE is scheduled to meet Nov. 20-21 in Austin (for more information visit

Supporting the evolutionary-strength only camp are Gerald Skoog, professor and dean emeritus of the College of Education at Texas Tech and co-director of the Center for Integration of Science Education and Research; Ronald K. Wetherington, professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University and director of the Center for Teaching excellence; and David Hillis, professor of integrative biology and director of the Center of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at Austin.

Supporting the view that evolution has weaknesses are Stephen Meyer, who has a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science, and is vice president and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture; Ralph Seelke, a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, with a Ph.D. in microbiology, and a professor at University of Wisconsin-Superior; and Charles Garner, a graduate of the University of Colorado with a Ph.D. in chemistry who served as a staff scientist for Procter & Gamble Miami Valley Laboratories and who is currently at Baylor University.

SBTC executive director honored at Southwestern

FORT WORTH?Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees expressed gratitude for the generosity of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention by recognizing SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards and his wife, June, as recipients of the L.R. Scarborough Award. Richards was honored Oct. 21 along with J.W. (Jack) and Barbara MacGorman and John and Virginia Seelig, both of whom formerly served at Southwestern Seminary.

President Paige Patterson commended Richards for leading the state convention to place Southern Baptist Convention ministries on an even footing with Texas outreach, lamenting that most state conventions had become increasingly heavy on the portion retained for their own work. He expressed appreciation for the Cooperative Program gifts of SBTC churches as well as a $300,000 contribution to a proposed chapel.

“Dr. Richards is not only deeply committed to the Word of the Lord and the Lord Jesus Christ, but I don’t find a lot of folks willing to stand no matter the cost,” Patterson said in presenting the award created to honor the seminary’s second president and his priority of evangelism and missions.

As a confessional fellowship with Baptist distinctives, Richards said the SBTC is a natural partner with Southwestern Seminary as both institutions keep evangelism and missions in the forefront with the Cooperative Program binding them together. He announced the SBTC’s commitment to Southern Baptist entities would increase to a level of devoting 55 percent of budget receipts if messengers approved the increase at the 2008 annual meeting.

MacGorman’s 53-year career as a professor of New Testament was recognized along with Seelig’s three-decade tenure as vice president for public affairs.

During the Oct. 20-21 board meeting, trustees approved five new faculty members and accepted audited financial statements. Consent was granted to a study exploring the timing and planning of improvements to student housing, recognizing that the level of expectations from prospective students had risen. With a continuing increase in enrollment, the final report for the 2007-2008 academic year set the number of students at 3,581.

Newly elected professors include:
?Dongsun Cho as assistant professor of historical theology in the school of theology;
?Jason Duesing as assistant professor of historical theology in the school of theology while continuing to serve as chief of staff in the office of the president;
?Michael Keas as assistant professor of history and philosophy of science in the College at Southwestern;
?Mark Leeds as assistant professor of systematic theology in the school of theology in addition to his elected administrative responsibility as registrar and associate vice president for institutional research and assessment, and;
?Thomas White as associate professor of systematic theology in the school of theology in addition to his elected administrative responsibility as vice president for student services and communications.

Trustees passed a resolution of appreciation for Patterson following five years of tenure as president, commending him for modeling “the position of servant-evangelist” and restoring a spirit of “joy, fellowship, and friendliness” among students and visitors to the campus, strengthening longstanding relationships with key Texas cities, reviving the chapel hour and affirming Southern Baptist distinctives.

The resolution also noted success in celebrating the seminary’s centennial anniversary, building a “world-class faculty uniquely known for its academic excellence and its missionary, pastoral and evangelistic spirit and devotion to the local church,” overseeing a strengthened curricula and establishment of several new schools and extension programs, gains in the school’s net worth and endowment and consistent growth in student enrollment.

Patterson’s wife, Dorothy, was also honored for her hospitality, expansion of programs for women, encouragement of capital, endowment and scholarship projects and modeling of the sanctity of marriage and the home.

During his report to trustees, Patterson responded to critics who mislabel the school as holding to Landmark or fundamentalist theology.

“A Landmarker believes in the actual succession of the churches?that either Jesus or John the Baptist started it and that was passed on to whomever and on down the line in an unbroken succession,” he explained. While stating that such a view likely was held by the seminary’s founder and brother, Patterson said he had never ascribed to Landmark theology.

“I do not believe to have a New Testament church there must be an organic, connectional succession of churches,” he said, preferring to describe his belief in “Baptist principle succession” as the conviction that “God has never left himself without a witness.”

Responding to media portrayals of the school as fundamentalist, Patterson said Southwestern strives to turn out students who can stay theologically and ecclesiologically alive in hostile environments.

“We require more reading of liberal, neorthodox and postmodern thinkers than most liberal institutions.”

Furthermore, he said, “We’re trying to prepare a generation of men and women without fear,” expecting them to be “aggressive, humble ministers” who will use their training on the battlefront, but at every step of the way realize their calling is to servanthood.

Trustee John Hays of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, asked whether the high academic standards eliminate young men who are passionate about their faith, but struggle with their schooling.

“The greatest joy I have is not with the most gifted students, but the ol’ boy who comes in from a West Texas town where he’s been shoeing horses and doesn’t think of himself as intellectually adept. When a guy gets personal attention and professors pour themselves into him, even lifting the standard doesn’t actually eliminate a kid who has no background [for academics].

“He may eliminate himself, sit through one semester of Greek and say, ‘No further.’ But if he will come in even with the higher standards we’re now placing on them and walk with us, in the end he will graduate and be more effective than the brightest students who come in. When it comes to a point where we eliminate anybody automatically, then we’ve gone too far. I don’t think we’re doing that, but it means we have to be much more personally involved in the lives of students.”

In addition to female students enrolled in the various graduate level studies, trustees were told of an increase in the number of women taking Greek through a certificate program with consideration being given to advanced classes.

Citizens voice opposition to booze at Six Flags venues

FORT WORTH?Beverage alcohol with roller coasters or water slides is a dangerous and inappropriate mix at amusement parks catering to families, a group of North Texans told a public hearing held Oct. 14-15 in Fort Worth.

The 11 residents who spoke against a request by Six Flags to sell alcohol at its Six Flags Over Texas amusement park and Hurricane Harbor water park, both in Arlington, told state Administrative Law Judge Tanya Cooper that public safety and the welfare of children would be jeopardized if the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission approves it.

Roger Hollar, director of Mercy Heart Ministries in Fort Worth, which works with families of inmates and ex-offenders, told the judge that alcohol sales at the parks would be irresponsible. An alcohol-free park “would provide one less place for [alcoholics] to get drunk. We need one less place for these things to happen,” he said.

Hollar, also an associate pastor at Glenview Baptist Church, said it is “quite a paradox” for the alcohol industry to discourage underage drinking and then “to turn around with the gateway drug and put it in their play yard for them.”

Winston Fuller testified that alcohol sales at the parks would risk children’s safety by dulling the senses of adults supervising them, would lead to more heat-related emergencies because of alcohol-induced dehydration, and would create a greater risk of alcohol-related automobile accidents.

Fuller acknowledged the argument that the nearby Ballpark at Arlington sells alcohol, as will the new Dallas Cowboys football stadium. But baseball is a spectator sport, “not a visitor-performance sport” with high-speed rides, Fuller said.

Bill Holt of Arlington said he takes his grandchildren to both parks regularly and opposes alcohol sales at the venues.

“Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor have been genuine assets to our community ? and have brought many visitors to this area,” Holt said. Parents have felt comfortable leaving their older children there for several hours, “and we want that to continue.”

Holt said it is generally accepted that beverage alcohol increases the occurrence of health emergencies, behavior problems and accidents.

Carolyn Mitchell, who described herself as a Six Flags season-pass holder, said she was unaware that alcohol was served at other Six Flags-owned parks until her family visited Fiesta Texas in San Antonio and endured 25 minutes waiting in line for a ride behind two inebriated, foul-mouthed young women.
“We left the place with a different view of Fiesta Texas,” Mitchell said.

Within two miles of both Arlington parks are hundreds of bars and restaurants where adults may drink, Mitchell noted. Also, as a public school teacher she has observed that fake ID’s are abundant among teenagers, she said.

“The safety issue alone would be unspeakable at Hurricane Harbor,” Mitchell said. “I implore Six Flags to remain a truly family environment here in Arlington.”

In December 2007, Six Flags applied to TABC for the license to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks at its Arlington parks, quickly prompting 600 phone calls to TABC, 150 signatures to a petition against the license and a dozen letters of protest.

Six Flags officials claim the effort is in response to customer requests for beer and pledged that such sales would be handled responsibly and guest safety ensured. Despite their intention to introduce alcohol to what is regarded as a family-friendly venue, they counter that the alcohol will be served in specially marked, clear cups in select, well-monitored locations by TABC-certified servers.
Judge Cooper has until mid-December to issue a ruling.

The TABC may be contacted via e-mail at or by mail at TABC Legal Division, P.O. Box 13127, Austin, TX 78711.

Pregnancy Resource Center becomes relief point after Ike

GALVESTON?The Pregnancy and Parenting Support Center serving Galveston County is trying to raise more than $20,000 to purchase 500 cars seats for the smallest victims of the biggest storm to hit this island in over a century.

Center Director Christy Anne Dickson said amidst all of the aid and support flowing into Galveston, the babies and infants of more than 900 mothers have not received much needed, age-specific care.

“The needs have been horrendous,” Dickson said from a small, white clapboard chapel building serving as a temporary registration and distribution point for the ministry, which is part of the North American Mission Board’s network of pregnancy resource centers and is affiliated with Galveston Baptist Association. The center’s Galveston office took in eight feet of water when Hurricane Ike surged onto the island Sept. 13.

This is the fourth time since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that the PPSC has transformed from a counseling and support center for pregnant women to a relief organization. But the personal devastation from this past storm has been, by far, the worst Dickson has seen.

“We never dreamed how overwhelming this need would be,” she said. Of those registering for assistance for their children, Dickson said 90-95 percent have lost everything they owned.

Following the storm, food and shelter for displaced families were provided by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and other charitable organizations. Those support systems, though appreciated, Dickson said, met the basic needs of children and adults but was lacking in the care of babies and toddlers. The Red Cross tent shelter, for example, had cots but no cribs. And the homes filled with extra family members left homeless by the storm had infants sleeping on couches or the floor.

Dickson pointed out that babies need formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, proper bedding and portable play centers. She said some rocking chairs, baby swings and portable cribs and play pens were donated to the Red Cross tent shelter but the need for such items is still great throughout the county.

And transporting babies and infants in cars has been made risky with the loss of car seats. Galveston residents who evacuated on buses provided by the county and state were limited to what they could take. Car seats were not allowed. Families returned to houses and apartments ruined by the flood waters and all baby furnishings destroyed. As state law requires children under the age of five and less than 36 inches in height be restrained in a car seat, Dickson said collecting and distributing the seats is a high priority.

“We have women coming to us in tears because police are ticketing them,” she said.

Dickson addressed the issue with the Galveston Police Department and the two agencies are working together resolve the problem. Now, when police stop a vehicle for a car seat violation, Dickson said instead of a ticket officers will give the driver a card instructing them how they can contact the PPSC and register to receive a new, free car seat.

While registering for the car seats, mothers can also sign-up for relief help from the PPSC. Dickson said the ministry is committed to the long-term effort of providing moms with the essential supplies for caring for their children. When moms first register they go home with a baby bag filled with care supplies and can return two days later to pick up a bag of baby and infant clothing.

The moms can then return once a week for supplies of diapers, wipes, food and formula. Dickson said the center will take registration through mid-November for women with newborns through children 3 years of age. Dickson anticipates care for the families will continue into January when the city’s infrastructure is expected to be operational. As of late October, Dickson said more then 900 women, representing approximately 1,300 infants, have registered for relief.

Dickson reported that the women asking for help run the gamut of the socio-economic spectrum. Although the former Galveston center stands in the midst of eight housing projects and served many of the women from those facilities, Hurricane Ike has been the great equalizer. Many of the women were self-sufficient and helped provide for their families but the storm took not only their personal possessions but their means of earning a living.

One such client is America Maldenado. She lost her job in a Galveston dental office when the facility was flooded. Although she has been assured by her employer that her job is secure when the office is up and running again, Maldenado was without a paycheck until the unemployment checks began coming in. In the meantime, Maldenado and her husband were not only caring for their 1-year-old son but several other family members who had moved into their Texas City home after their homes were damaged or destroyed in the storm.

After registering for unemployment, Maldenado was trying to leave the crowded facility but was stopped in her tracks by a line of women that led to a table where the Parenting and Pregnancy Support Center was taking registrations. It wasn’t long after she signed up for support that Maldenado began volunteering for the organization.

In order to remain eligible for the relief unemployment, Maldenado said she was required to spend 30 hours a week looking for a job. The task was overwhelming due in part to the fact that there was only one vehicle being used by all 12 people staying in her home. She also viewed the task as pointless as she would be returning to her job, hopefully, by January. She did not want to get hired only to have to quit when she returned to the dental office. So she asked her case worker if she could perform community service in lieu of a job search. The request was approved and Maldenado knew where she wanted to give her time.

“I know what it’s like to need the help. What little money I had went to other needs.” She enjoys the work at the PPSC so much she hopes to continue volunteering once she returns to her job. Dickson has been grateful for Maldenado’s help because she is able to communicate with the center’s Spanish-speaking clients.

Dickson said indispensable support for the relief ministry has come from a sister pregnancy center in Lake Jackson. PPSC takes orders each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Galveston church and faxes half of the requests to the Lake Jackson office. Orders are filled Tuesday and Thursday and brought to Galveston Wednesday and Friday by Lake Jackson volunteers. One delivery from Lake Jackson included “MREs for baby”?brown paper sacks filled by a group of kindergartners with an assortment of juice and baby food. Dickson said all the requests could never be filled without the help of their partner agency.

Other assistance has come from churches like one in Eastland, which in late October was preparing to ship 14 pallets of diapers and wipes to the center.

Dickson said she hopes individuals and churches across Texas will support the relief ministry. The center has made a long-term commitment to the mothers and their babies and will need the support of Christians across the state to meet those needs. She recommended Sunday School classes “adopt” a baby and take up a donation to cover the $41 cost for the car seats.

Any donations are welcome but monetary contributions for the car seats and related disaster relief must be designated as such. In the memo portion of the check indicate disaster relief. To contribute, checks may be made payable to CPSC, P.O. Box 164, Texas City, TX 77592. The Pregnancy and Parenting Support Center can be reached at 409-945-2888 or

Empower Evang. Conf. Feb. 16-18 at FBC Euless

EULESS?”The Holy Spirit in You” will be the theme of the Empower Evangelism Conference Feb. 16-18 at First Baptist Church of Euless in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

The conference will feature music from Ricky Skaggs, Charles Billingsley, The Booth Brothers, Curtis Brewer, Dawn Smith Jordan, Philip Griffin, and John McKay.

Scheduled preachers and speakers include John Bisagno, Jonathan Falwell, Lee Strobel, Will Graham, Ed Stetzer, Sammy Gilbreath, Don Harms, Fred Luter, Jimmy Pritchard, Jerry Spencer and Jerry Vines.

“It is my prayer that God will use this conference to awaken a deeper surrender to do the work of evangelism in the lives of all who attend and their contagious commitment will spread across Texas in every Baptist church,” SBTC Evangelism Director Don Cass said.

Look for stories about the conference in upcoming editions of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.

Happy birthday to us!

You’ll hear a lot at this year’s annual SBTC convention about our 10-year anniversary. In a fellowship of state conventions where several are over 100 years old, 10 years seems paltry by comparison. Even my Hoosier Baptist friends celebrated 50 years this past month in their new work context. I think 10 years for our convention is more significant than our later birthdays will be, though.

There have been times in human history where birthdays were very big occasions because they indicated another year of a person’s survival. That’s especially true of early birthdays?life is more fragile in its early days. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has moved in 10 years from being an iffy proposition to being as permanent as any mortal institution can be judged “permanent.” That’s big and notable.

Because we tend to think in round numbers, many of you who attended that first convention in 1998 doubtless wondered what the SBTC might be in 10 years. Happily, most of you got it wrong. The baby convention prospered in ways beyond your asking or imagination. God used any number of large and small events (and people) to build up a large fellowship of churches committed to Great Commission ministries. It’s really an amazing story even though it was not punctuated with war, famine, or scandal.

The numbers tell a story as our convention grew and prospered. A thorough selection of ministries and resources also stand to testify that God has built a new missionary channel for Texas Southern Baptists. The SBTC has become far more than it was on Nov. 10, 1998.

Let’s give honor to whom honor is due, though. The structure of the convention’s ministry is built on a foundation laid by our first leaders. Clearly, they laid that foundation on the rock. Earlier this year, the last of the SBTC’s original board members completed their tenures. It is natural and regrettable that when a leader “retires” from prominence, the next generation begins to forget his service. I hope we might delay that forgetting a little while. Remembering, as we continue along the way, is appropriate and beneficial to us all.

For the most part, the original SBTC Executive Board was drawn from the Southern Baptists of Texas Board of Directors that preceded the convention. These men and women planned the new convention and were elected to govern it in 1998. Before that, they worked hard to reform another state convention?some of them for well over a decade. Throughout the years preceding even the decision to form a new convention, these pioneers were regularly pilloried in the largest Baptist state paper in the Southern Baptist Convention. They also lost every vote.

The conventional wisdom, then and now, among those who have another view of state convention is that the SBT was just made up of cussed, fractious people. Many thought that the Southern Baptists of Texas wanted to start a new convention from the beginning. They were determined people but their goal was not to divide Texas Baptists, even as recently as 10 months before the new convention’s constituting. Instead, SBT leaders worked to reform the convention that already existed. They failed, though. And every failure put them further away from any effective influence over state convention business.

Either Southern Baptists in Texas would start something new or they would accept a worsening status quo in their only state missions partner. As courageous as their tenacity was in trying for years to reform their state convention, the decision to start over added discernment to that courage. Add to those virtues a flurry of hard work leading up to November 1998, and there we were.

There we were, but just barely. Our churches were small and few. The convention’s ministries depended on one full-time and one part-time employee. Many of the churches inclined to affiliate with the new convention were out of the habit of giving through the traditional Cooperative Program?they’d been giving around their state convention. We had no place, no equipment, and no track record. New work conventions begun since the 1950s often had an already-established convention that participated in founding and funding the newer convention. The SBTC had no such assistance. But the growth from that point was rapid, even dramatic. That’s the part of the story you’ve likely heard. Someone, several someones, had to invest themselves in the effort long before it grew and matured. In any worthwhile organization, such founders are worthy of honor.

I do not recommend devoting our convention to looking back. The SBTC has not been that kind of fellowship at any point in its life. In the early days, there was simply too much work to do. Today, we see farther and more broadly than we could have in 1998. Our mission is even larger; the time even shorter. We look forward but we do so with the heartening knowledge that those who preceded us in this work are still among us. They have set a good example and still do that. As future leaders accept the torch from their hands, they need to remember who carried it from the starting line.

Here is a list, drawn from the final Southern Baptists of Texas Board of Directors and the first Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board: Steven Bain, Dorothy Barker, Roy Baxley, John Brady, Alan Burkhalter, Steve Burns, Stan Coffey, Scott Copeland, Randy Davis, Ed Ethridge, David Fannin, Dwayne Finley, Ernest Gregory, Dan Grindstaff, George Harris, Rudy Hernandez, Al Kawamotto, Othell LaFerney, Randy McDonald, John Meador, Brant O’Hair, Casey Perry, Eulas Ready, Billy Ross, Miles Seaborn, Rick Scarborough, Dee Slocum, Gerald Smith, Danny Souder, Lou Ann Stallings, Bill Sutton, Eral Sutton, Ted Tedder, Rocky Weatherford, Don Workman, and Skeet Workman.

You’ll see many of these folks at our meeting this year. Tell them thanks for being with the SBTC from the start. Some of them are retired but many aren’t. These pioneers are part of our convention’s present and future, just as you are. But they’ve seen it all from the beginning. They cast their lot with a new and unproven endeavor during a time when most everyone else saw little hope. As we celebrate what God has done since 1998 and the future he seems to be opening before us, join me in honoring the SBTC leaders he used to start the whole thing.

You are the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

It is finally here! Ten years in the making. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention celebrates a decade of ministry. All praise goes to the Lord Jesus.

Oftentimes people think of the convention as a meeting. Only once a year, usually in the fall, do the messengers of the churches gather and conduct business. Over the life of the SBTC very little business has taken place on the floor. The messengers have been pleased with the direction of the work. One observer commented that the SBTC is the happiest group of Baptists on the planet. It is all about the Lordship of Jesus and the grace of God. With all of this noted, the convention is not the meeting that takes place in the fall.

When some speak of the convention they are referring to the staff. The SBTC has a wonderful staff. They love the Lord Jesus. They affirm the Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement (2000). The staff works hard to assist the churches and associations in Texas. Partnering with the Southern Baptist Convention, the staff helps Texans touch the world. While the staff is an unusually gifted group of the Lord’s servants, they are not the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

You send messengers to that annual business meeting. You facilitate the work of the staff through the convention’s budget. You have ownership. You fund the missionaries. You come together to strengthen struggling sister churches. You provide for the college student. You provide workers for the disaster relief teams. You make the news that is printed. You plant new churches. You evangelize through Crossover. The Cooperative Program exists because of you. The SBTC is a confessional fellowship of churches. You are the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. There’s the right answer.

Celebrate the 10 years. It is a milestone. Give God the glory. He alone is worthy. Together let’s continue over the next 10 years to be the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

880k meals served, 60 salvations recorded during post-Ike SBTC disaster relief work

The Southern Baptist TEXAN recorded a brief interview on Oct. 30 with SBTC Disaster Relief Director Jim Richardson, asking him to summarize the relief work as it stands a month and a half following Hurricane Ike’s devastation along the Gulf Coast. What follows is a transcript of that interview.

TEXAN: First off, after Hurricane Ike, how many meals did Southern Baptists of Texas Convention-led kitchens serve?
RICHARDSON: Our DR volunteers served a total of 881,258 meals. That includes all over Southeast Texas?Galveston, Huntsville, Port Arthur, Lufkin and Tyler. Galveston was the last feeding operation, and we served our last meal on Oct. 26.

TEXAN: Is it possible to quantify the spiritual fruit from Ike relief?
RICHARDSON: We know of at least 60 people who made first-time professions of faith. Of course, we pass the names of those people on to local churches for follow up.

TEXAN: What’s the next step for SBTC disaster relief?
RICHARDSON: Hurricane Ike is passed. What we need right now are more trained volunteers. We have about 2,000 trained SBTC volunteers. What we need in the state of Texas are 5,000 trained volunteers. In order to provide this type of ministry, it takes people who are willing to be trained. Five thousand sounds like a lot of people, but realize that on any given day only about 10 percent of those people are available, because of family obligations, sickness, work. And it takes a lot of people to respond to disasters such as Ike.

TEXAN: If someone is interested in training for disaster relief, how do they begin?
RICHARDSON: We will come to their church or association to get their people trained. They simply need to contact our office, 877-953-7282 or, and we can work on scheduling a training in their area.

TEXAN: Who fits the disaster relief profile?
RICHARDSON: The DR profile is anybody in Southern Baptist life. We have people who come from small churches. We have people who come from large churches. We have people who are in their 80s. We have people who are 18. It runs the gamut of Southern Baptist life. The only thing is, people have to be at least 18 years old.

TEXAN: What’s the SBTC doing as far as recovery at this point?
RICHARDSON: We are still working in Port Arthur, Bridge City, Orange, Cove, Vidor, Galveston and Southeast Texas in general. We’re still working on mud-out, trying to get those cleanup needs met. And then over the next year or so we’re going to have a very extended commitment to help people rebuild, help churches rebuild, and help families rebuild their homes after Ike. That’s working through Nehemiah’s Vision, based in Vidor, which is partnering with us in this as they have after Rita since 2005. Again, if someone is interested in that, they can contact our office for more information on how they can help. So our biggest challenges right now are to continue the rebuild process and train new volunteers.

List of Ike-damaged churches

The following is a list (not exhaustive) of churches the TEXAN could determine were damaged in Hurricane Ike. To volunteer to help or to adopt a church, contact the SBTC office. For rebuild questions, call Jim Richardson toll-free at 877-953-7282 or To adopt a church or to provide financial aid, contact Mike Smith toll-free at 877-953-7282 or

Tryon Evergreen Baptist Association
Northridge, Conroe: Broken water heater/flooding.
Oak Shade, Cleveland: Damage.
Rainbow, Rye: Clean up, needs 15 passenger van; electrical-general; construction-partial reconstruction of church needed.

Trinity River Baptist Association
FBC Dayton: Limited damage.
FBC High Island: Damage to church and parsonage.
Calvary, Liberty: Some damage to their church building; new roof being added.
First, Daisetta: Minor damage.

Gulf Coast Baptist Association
Jones Creek Baptist, Jones Creek: Work has begun on repairs through insurance.

Galveston Baptist Association
San Leon Community Church, San Leon: Church, education building and parsonage all received major damage. Need rebuilt education building and three to four months help in supporting pastor.
FBC Port Bolivar: Church destroyed. Needs to be guttedto try to save some walls; parsonage is gone. Needs a mud-out crew and a partner church.
Crystal Beach Community Church: Merged with FBC Crystal Beach.FBC Crystal Beach had some damage. Needs a partner church.
Central Baptist, Galveston: Water, roof damage. Needs a church to partner with.
University, Galveston: Minor damage. Needs a partner church.
West End, Galveston: Severe damage.
Anchor Baptist, Kemah: Churchwindows blown out; pastor’s books and computer lost.

Golden Triangle Baptist Association
Cove Baptist Church, Orange: Church had major damage.
Fellowship Baptist Church, Bridge City: Major cleanup and repair needs to church. Pastor has financial needs.
FBC Bevil Oaks: Major damage.
FBC Bridge City: Cleanup, maybe financial help.
FBC Hamshire: Brick wall on worship center damaged
FBC Stowell: Water damage to gym.
FBC Vidor: Major water damage.
FBC West Orange: Damage sustained.
Ridgewood Baptist, Port Arthur: general damage.
Liberty Baptist Church, Bridge City: Water damage.
Second Baptist Church, Bridge City: Major damage.

Southern Baptists of SE Texas
FBC, Gilchrist: Total loss. FBC Gilchrist might not rebuild because the damage was so extensive.

San Jacinto Association
Baker Road, Baytown: Roof damage, sanctuary flooded; must gut sanctuary/education building.
Baptist Temple, Baytown: Water damage in entrance to building.
Bayshore, La Porte: Outside damage; water damage in sanctuary.
Cedar Bayou, Baytown: Water damage.
Communidad, Crosby: Roof damage.
Memorial, Channelview: Minor damage, need new roof on education building.
Second Baptist, Highlands: Steeple gone, sanctuary flooded, roof damage.

South Texas Baptist Association
Highlands Baptist, Highland: Water damage. Might need some help.
Antioch Baptist, Houston: Roof and water damage. Might need some support.
Farrington Baptist Church, Houston: Water damage.

Union Baptist Association
(The following reported moderate to severe damage.)
Calvary Korean Baptist Church, Houston
Humble area’s First Baptist
Iglesia Cristiana Bautista Eben-Ezer
Korean FBC, Pasadena
New Life Community Church
Second Baptist, Houston

(A list of affiliated churches and their contact information is available online at Click the affiliated churches link.)