Month: June 2009

Criswell student commissioned to W. Africa

DALLAS?When Angela Baker walked the aisle during a revival service of First Baptist Church of Dallas, she felt a need to confess her disobedience of failing to follow through with a desire to attend Bible college. The 45-year-old mother of two grown children was given a verse to consider by a member of the singles department.

“She said the Lord put on her heart three times for me the verse in Joel 2:25,” Baker recalled. God’s promise to restore “the years the locusts have eaten” seemed like a mysterious hope. She committed to enrolling at Criswell College the following fall semester in 2000. Now that she’s completed her M.A. in theology, she’ll be traveling to West Africa to prepare for her assignment as an apprentice missionary to an unreached people group.

At the age of 18, Baker had no thought of pursuing biblical studies, much less a life in service to God. “I took a hiatus from church that lasted about nine years. I pursued excessive social pleasures and a college education,” she explained. Realizing now that she was not emotionally ready for college, Baker recalls a time of “questioning everything?my worth, God, life, my country.”

She set out for Germany to study abroad during her sophomore year. A local man whom she had begun dating soon proposed marriage. Hesitant to marry, she traveled to London to obtain an abortion after learning she was pregnant. “God intervened and I returned to the states to live with my sister and brother-in-law in Colorado,” she shared. “I saw my son for three days and then gave him up for adoption.”

She worked her way through school at a local college and met a man with whom she became emotionally and physically involved. Their relationship deteriorated after she gave birth to a daughter. Baker returned to the home of her parents, hoping to get her life back on track while raising her daughter.

At her sister’s urging, Baker began attending church again and over the course of the next 10 years became an active leader. She wanted to attend Bible college, but was encouraged to finish her MBA. “That made practical sense, so I finished the degree.”

She and her daughter relocated once more to Nebraska where her daughter graduated from high school. The prospect of living in a warmer climate prompted Baker to take a job in Dallas in 1998 where she visited First Baptist and eventually enrolled in studies at Criswell College.

An assignment for a personal evangelism course troubled Baker as she read from Matthew 7:21-23. “I realized I could not identify a point of salvation and I began to come under conviction of sin,” she explained. After hearing Professor Alan Street preach a sermon titled ‘You Must Be Born Again,” Baker sought his counsel for the doubt she was experiencing. “I took his advice and began a period of prayer.”

In the midst of battling an illness, Baker devoted herself to prayer, crying out to God for mercy and salvation. “At age 48, God invaded my life and gave me the second birth; I was radically saved” she declared. “Since then my life has changed dramatically. Prior to being saved I had not led one person to the Lord. Now I have seen many respond to the gospel. My prayer life has been transformed into communion. I now have a passion for the lost,” she said, pleased at the opportunity to minister as chaplain for women at a local homeless shelter.

“She is one of the most consistent soul-winners I have ever seen,” noted James Bryant, senior professor of pastoral theology.

Baker has developed a desire for reaching Muslim people after years of conversations with a Muslim co-worker. “She and I talked about faith all the time. I met with her and family members for Bible discussions.” That experience prompted her to study Arabic during an extended visit to her hometown. She sought out an Arabic-speaking congregation upon returning to Texas in order to hear and retain the language.

Listening through a translator, she sensed God speaking to her through the preacher as he repeatedly asked the Fort Worth congregation, “‘Will you be a missionary?'”

Baker took that to heart and joined a group traveling to North Africa.

“I wanted a trip that was all evangelism to a place where the gospel had not been,” she explained. “God gave me two Scripture passages, Romans 15:20-21 and Isaiah 61:1-3. I later learned that the Lord had given two trip leaders each of one of those same two passages. We were amazed and glorified God.” Two new churches were planted as the team of eight people saw 256 people respond in faith.

Street recalled Baker’s journey toward missionary appointment.

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Got Pure Religion? A challenge to show love

It’s right there in James 1:27a: “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after widows in their distress?” Need some fresh ideas for demonstrating pure religion by ministering to widows in your church?

Share a tissue: Small acts of Christian kindness can make a difference during grief.

• Take Twelve. For a new widow, make a notation on your personal calendar to remember the one-month anniversary of the death for 12 months. Personally contact her monthly with a simple phone call, a stop to visit, an encouragement note, an invitation to dinner, or an invitation for a cup of coffee.

• Notice her. Seek her out at church. Talk with her. Show love. Sit by her during worship. If she’s not there, call to check on her.

• Listen. Don’t avoid conversation about her late husband. Whether she is a recent widow or has been alone for decades, let her share memories of her husband.

• Church ideas: Provide a grief recovery class or grief support group. Assign a deacon or a family to a new widow in your church to help her through the grief process.

• Pray. Every time God brings her to mind, pray. Take the time to voice a prayer when you visit.

Offer friendship: Demonstrate God’s love through friendship (Proverbs 17:17.

• Be a friend. Laugh together. Cry together. Shop together. Carpool. Telephone. Text. Begin a new tradition with her: Invite her for a holiday, call her each Sunday afternoon, plant flower bulbs each fall or take her to lunch on her birthday.

• Include her. Help her meet Christians with similar interests or life circumstances. Include widows on your guest list when you entertain. Ask her along for a family adventure, such as watching July 4thfireworks, a day trip, or dinner. Invite her to join your Bunco club, book club, Bible study group, computer class or community club.

• Think of the kids. When your ministry involves younger widows, be aware of her need for childcare to be provided. Consider adopting a young family that first Christmas after the death of the father and husband, helping out with the purchase of presents.

• Share ministry. Discover her interests and talents, and carefully watch for ways she might enjoy serving at your church. For example, if you teach a Sunday School or Vacation Bible School, invite her to help with records, greeting or substitute teaching.

• Church ideas: A church might form a group for widows. They could plan fellowships, prayer team or Bible studies. The group could go on outings together, do ministry projects, take short trips for vacation or missions or share holiday gatherings. Find ways to include widowers in many of your gatherings. One younger widow advises avoiding the appearance of a dating service.

Show Honor: 1 Timothy 5:3-10 instructs us to honor widows who are widows indeed.

• Personally deliver a holiday fruit basket, a birthday balloon or a single Gerber daisy.

• Deacons sponsored an annual banquet for widows in our church. They provided transportation, served the meal, prayed for each widow at his table, and made her feel like a queen for the evening. Alternate: allow deacons to escort widows to be first in line at the annual church potluck dinner.

• A Christmas open house for widows could be planned at a church member’s home.

• The church youth group could sponsor a “cupcakes and coffee fellowship” for widows, serving homemade goodies. Assign teens to visit with and serve a widow, and use nametags to help them know one another.

• Some churches honor widows annually during a worship service. Mail widows a printed invitation, make them special nametags, and give them a corsage as they arrive. Create a pre-service slideshow to spotlight them. Ask them to stand and invite church members to surround them and offer a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing.

• Assign a church group or class to Christmas carol at each widow’s door. Take a group photo with her in the middle and mail or deliver it to her with a Christmas card signed by the entire group.

• Assign a children’s or youth class a widow. They can send cards, deliver candies, help with small home projects, and get to know her.

• The young married women’s class could sponsor an annual “Hats Required Tea” just for widows in the church. Draw names to pair young women with a widow to provide transportation, serve her, and maybe even borrow one of her hats to wear! Ask ladies to be prepared to share a favorite Bible verse.

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Eagle’s View Church soars with the down and out

SAGINAW  “The religion which is holy and free from evil in the eyes of our God and Father is this: to take care of children who have no fathers and of widows who are in trouble, and to keep oneself untouched by the world.” That’s how the “Bible in Basic English” translates James 1:27. And accomplishing a home makeover for a widow is one way Eagle’s View Church incarnates that well-known verse.

“We’ll be repainting her house, doing landscaping, installling insulation and building a canopy over her driveway?just like you see on TV,” said Brad Collins, who volunteers as an associate pastor at Eagle’s View in the Fort Worth suburb of Saginaw, and who heads-up the church’s Mercy Outreach ministry.

Collins is leading a church-wide project called 40 Days of Servolution. From Aug. 30-Oct. 11, Eagle’s View members will study a curriculum and other service-oriented material written by Collins in preparations for three days of all-out service.

“On October 9-10, we we’ll complete the home makeover for a widow in our community,” Collins said. “And we’ll also do many other service projects and random acts of kindness all weekend.”

The “random acts of kindness” represent assistance the church already has provided to its neighbors and other church members, including house and yard clean-up, and lawn mowing.

“On Sunday (Oct. 11), we’ll meet for a 30-minute worship time, and then hit the streets for a few hours of serving. After that, we’ll come back to the church for testimonies and a big barbeque,” Coillins explained. “It’s a way for our church to get involved with the community.”

With the help of Terri, his wife, Collins founded Mercy Outreach in 2003 as an inner-city ministry. And widows aren’t the only beneficiaries. Using block parties and barbeques, Mercy Outreach has assisted hundreds of people through every kind of ministry Brad can imagine.

“I love doing it. I lose sleep at night thinking of ways to serve people,” he told the TEXAN. “It drives my wife crazy. She asks me if my brain ever stops.”

“We invite other churches in Texas to join us in this endeavor,” Collins said.

“Whether they complete the 40 days of preparation or just the weekend of service, we just want to see people on the streets sharing the love of Jesus by serving. And I’d be happy to work with these churches for training if needed.”

Meeting others’ needs isn’t a new thing for Eagle’s View or Brad, whose leadership among church members in several ministries continues to aid impoverished people in Tarrant County, including entire families who make their homes under bridges.

“We go down there under the bridge and feed the people cooked meals,” and also share the gospel, he said. “We don’t push them. We just love on them and establish relationships by sharing the love of Christ.”

Other Mercy Outreach ministries include an annual Thanksgiving dinner served at the church on Thanksgiving Day, assistance for victims of addiction and domestic violence, Christmas block parties that offer free meals and gifts for children, and clothing drives for Hurricane Ike victims, the most recent of which resulted in six professions of faith in Christ. Other local ministries have brought several families to Christ and into church membership.

When asked what motivates him, Collins said, “I love Jesus and people. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ and want others to have one. I also love serving and giving, and to do something for someone that puts a gleam in their eye.

“And when people ask me why I do this, I don’t tell them it’s because the Bible commands us to do it. I tell them that Christ died on a cross for my sins, and he serves me everyday.”

“The book of Acts tells us to share what we have, and that’s what we’re doing,” he added. “What we have really isn’t ours. God asks us to help others with it and give it away.”

Churches minister through Mission:Dignity to widows, widowers beyond local church

Thomas “Mutt” Seamans was known for his sense of humor. He got his nickname from the old Mutt and Jeff comic strip that was popular when he was a boy back in the 1920s. He and his dad would act out the comics and, even though young Thomas was the shorter of the two and should have played Jeff, he somehow picked up the name Mutt.

Although he liked to tease his family and friends, Mutt was serious about the gospel. He had felt the call to ministry not long after he and Sybil were married in 1944.

“I told him that if he wanted to preach, I was OK with that,” Sybil recalled. “I was a nurse and I would work to help with the expenses. He needed to go out and visit and do funerals and weddings. If I hadn’t worked, we wouldn’t have made it.”

For the next 51 years, the Seamans served together in small, East Texas congregations. Most did what they could to provide a parsonage and a small amount of salary each week. Few, however, contributed to Mutt’s retirement.

“One of our country churches treated us just like family,” Sybil said. “There weren’t a lot of money people but they were good people. One was a teacher and most were farmers.

“The church planned to do something special for us one week but there was a woman in town who just couldn’t keep it a secret. She saw me and said, “They’re going to give you a pounding but don’t want you to know.’ We did our best to look surprised when they brought all the food.”

It wasn’t a surprise when Mutt passed away in 2003. He’d been ill for quite some time. But Sybil was now left with a monthly widow’s benefit of just $220 plus a Social Security check.

The members at Enon Baptist Church in Chester stepped in to help. Sybil’s pastor contacted the associational director of missions who suggested she apply for assistance from GuideStone’s Mission:Dignity ministry. Through the generosity of churches like First Baptist of Groesbeck the additional $200 each month really makes a difference for her now.

“It helps me with home repair, my glasses and the dentist. And, of course, with groceries,” Sybil said.

Formerly known as Adopt An Annuitant, the name was changed to Mission:Dignity last year to better reflect the mission of bringing dignity to God’s retired servants in need. The program assists nearly 2,500 aged pastors, workers and their widows nationwide living on inadequate retirement incomes?some close to poverty. About two-thirds of the recipients are widows. Hundreds live right here in Texas.

Qualifying individuals can receive $200 each month to assist with food, utilities, prescriptions or medical care. Couples are eligible for $265. The neediest persons with at least 30 years of ministerial service may now receive as much as $530.

Funding for Mission:Dignity comes from the direct gifts of individuals, Sunday school classes, groups and churches and every dollar assists someone in need with nothing ever taken out for administrative expenses.

First Baptist Church of Groesbeck includes Mission:Dignity in its mission budget and sends $200 each month to GuideStone to support a widow or widower.

“Our desire is to honor these people who honored God with their lives,” said Pastor Clayton Griggs. “There was a time when many lived on small salaries and opted out of Social Security. As a church, we have a responsibility to take care of those who have taken care of us.”

Griggs recently shared a brief video and updated information about Mission:Dignity with his congregation so the people could see where their money was being used.

“The response from our members has been very positive as we see the difference we are making in their lives,” Griggs noted. “And we realize we can never outgive God.”

Griggs encourages other pastors to get their churches involved with Mission:Dignity. “I recently read about Sagemont Church in Houston reaching $1 million in gifts for Mission:Dignity. Not everybody can do that but, regardless of the size of the church, all of us can do something. Shared ministry is the heart of who we are as Southern Baptists.”

GuideStone offers free bulletin inserts and a DVD for use in sharing the ministry with local churches. To request materials, visit or call 888-984-8433.

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Joyce Rogers: God ‘isn’t finished with me’

BARTLETT, Tenn.?For 54 years, Joyce Rogers walked alongside her husband as he became one of the best-known pastors in Southern Baptist life.

Adrian Rogers, for 32 years the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., and a three-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention, died in November 2005, just a few months after retiring from the pulpit.

Yet, as Rogers’ ministry and legacy lives on through his Love Worth Finding Ministries and the Adrian Rogers’ Pastor Training Institute, Joyce Rogers continues a ministry of her own.

Besides serving on the board of directors for both ministries, she is happy blending in as a layperson at Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett, Tenn., where she joined almost two years ago. Pastor Danny Sinquefield laughs that he and Rogers made a deal that they would keep her joining Faith “under the radar,” but that didn’t last long. Guest speakers at the church would point out Rogers in the congregation.

Since her cover had been blown, Rogers agreed to be interviewed on stage during an April sermon series Sinquefield was preaching on “Strength for Life’s Struggles.” A gifted writer who has six books to her credit, Rogers recently had authored “Grace for the Widow: A Journey Through the Fog of Loss.”

Sinquefield, the current president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, questioned Rogers on how she was able to cope with the passing of her husband. She told the church her husband had taught her to love the Word of God and that she was continuing to trust God.

In the foreword of her new book, Rogers wrote: “I trusted God before, and I would trust him now. God’s Word was the basis for my life before. It would be my foundation now.”

After her husband’s death, Rogers said she was digging into God’s Word and was struck by Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

Rogers said she felt a burning sensation as she read that verse and felt God was telling her he “isn’t finished with me yet.” She continued, “I knew there was hope for tomorrow.”

When Sinquefield asked Rogers what one lesson she had learned during her journey, she replied, “Even though I already knew it, God taught me a deeper level of this truth?Jesus is enough.” She told the congregation her husband would always say you could never know Jesus is enough until he is all you have.

Over the past few years, Rogers has spoken at various Baptist-related meetings and been interviewed by media outlets. She recently spoke to bivocational ministers and wives in Tennessee and is slated as a speaker at the Southern Baptist evangelists’ banquet slated in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.

“God has called on me to do some interviews since Adrian has been gone,” Rogers said. “Afterwards, I look up and ask, ‘How did I do? You told me I could do this.’ I thank God for helping me.”

She also is ministering to others through her writing?and her latest book is an example.

“The premise of the book is that people can find help for their journey,” Rogers said.

She observed that, in the days following her husband’s death, it was as if she had been drifting “through a fog.” She wanted to provide a simple resource that offered both the “profound and the practical.” In her foreword, she writes that “the profound forms the foundation of our lives. This foundation is not built out of mortar and bricks, but from the Word of God.”

Rogers also noted, however, that it is important to focus on the practical when dealing with a life crisis such as the death of a spouse.

“I never had a course on how to prepare to be a widow,” she told the Faith congregation, but she learned she just had to do the basics?like getting out of bed and spending time with the Lord. Then, she said, it is simply a matter of “do the next thing.” <BR style="mso-special-character: line-bre

Widows cope amid pain, grief from loss

“I’ll be OK,” Joyce Rogers told her husband of 54 years as she anticipated his death. Looking back several years later, she wrote, “I don’t know if he heard me, and I didn’t exactly know what that meant. I just knew from the depths of my soul that God would take care of me. And, indeed he has!”

Her experience of how God brought her through “that incredibly difficult first year” is described in “Grace for the Widow, A Journey Through the Fog of Loss.” Her late husband, Adrian Rogers, pastored Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis.

For many widows, Rogers said there’s a sense that is comparable to a destructive tornado “that sweeps away our home while leaving another next to it unharmed.” Lacking an explanation for why “one is taken and another is left,” she sought to discover God’s purpose for this new stage in life.

“I felt like I’d been hit in the stomach,” added Karen Collett, whose husband died in 1997 after nearly 23 years of marriage. “There is just a numbness there. It stayed over the year. It lessened, but it was still difficult.”


“We probably don’t ever ‘recover’ from grief; instead, we learn to manage and cope,” explained Barbara M. Roberts in her handbook “Helping Those Who Hurt” for those involved in caring for others during a crisis.

Speaking at a Women’s Leadership Consultation session held earlier this year at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Collett outlined the needs of widows at the time of the spouse’s death as compared to the months and years beyond. She serves as women’s auxiliary coordinator at SWBTS where she maintains contact with widows across the United States through the Widow’s Might prayer ministry.

When a terminal illness stretches out for months, the family benefits from the provision of meals, assistance with errands, transportation, babysitting and when appropriate, relieving the caregiver, she said.

Encouragement is greatly appreciated, but consideration of the individual’s time is important, she advised.

“Phone calls can be very overwhelming. You’re trying to be there with your children and you’re saying the same thing for 15 minutes each time.”

Her husband, Dana, pastored Covenant Baptist Church in Columbia, Md., when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Some families take advantage of web-based technology that allows posting of updated information on a person’s condition through one entry. Prayer chains should be succinct, taking care to pass along only accurate information, she added.

It often falls to a minister to guide a grieving widow through the steps she must soon take. Roberts’ handbook outlines the initial decisions to be made at the mortuary and the process of planning a funeral service.

“If the death has been sudden, the shock stage will be severe. The care needed in that situation is much more intense,” she wrote.

At the time of a death, many widows begin operating on autopilot, Collett shared.

“Just be there for them. Your whole security and support system gets ripped out from under you,” she added.

“After the funeral is over and loved ones have gone home, you are faced with the mundane decisions of what to do,” Rogers wrote in her book. She provides direction on tackling the long “to-do” list that ranges from writing thank-you notes to making financial decisions.

Julia Moore, the wife of a Southwestern Seminary student who died in 2006, recalled being so overwhelmed by the day-to-day events that she often forgot who had offered to help.

“Hundreds of cards and notes of sympathy arrived in the mail, phones calls and visitors were constant and food arrived daily like clockwork during the two weeks after Donald’s death,” she said. “Then the widow is left in a fog, wondering what just happened and where did everyone go?”

The simplest efforts sometimes make the greatest difference in a time of need. “Sometimes you have a small voice that you recognized as God telling you something as simple as call this person, write this letter,” shared Anita Onarecker Wood of Spring, whose first husban

Hunt responds to GCR critics, predicts SBC will approve task force

WOODSTOCK, Ga.–Greater funding of the Cooperative Program will occur when Southern Baptists have greater confidence their gifts support the priorities of North American church planting, global pioneer missions around the globe and theological education, declared Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt in an interview with four state Baptist paper editors.

Hunt responded to critics who he believes have misjudged his motive in calling for a task force to examine the denomination “at every level” via his “Great Commission Resurgence” declaration. Far from having “a hidden agenda,” the Georgia pastor said his proposal seeks accountability for the investment of mission dollars.

He predicted his call for a study will be approved overwhelmingly by messengers to the June 23-24 SBC meeting in Louisville, and endorsed an appeal from the four state Baptist paper editors that meetings of the prospective task force would be as open and transparent as possible.

“I would be real open to say that we look forward to every meeting that there will be a state editor there to be able to document the meeting. We have nothing to hide,” Hunt told the editors from the Florida Baptist Witness, Georgia Christian Index, Illinois Baptist and Southern Baptist Texan in the June 3 conference call.

Since its initial release April 27 at, Hunt has adopted what he described as “a James 3:17 mentality” that regards “wisdom from heaven as easily entreated.” The feedback from SBC constituents prompted several revisions to the original draft of the 10-point plan “Toward a Great Commission Resurgence,” with the authors softening remarks that some found offensive. The allegation of “bloated bureaucracy” was removed one day after its initial release and a call to “rethink our Convention structure” has been replaced with an appeal for “valued partnerships of SBC agencies, state conventions/institutions, and Baptist associations to evaluate our Convention structures.”

What remains in the most often cited Article IX is Hunt’s motive in calling for a study “so that we can maximize our energy and resources for the health of our local churches and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.” With those changes made, Hunt said he hopes critics will back off of repeating references to language no longer included in the declaration.

“When we felt that word ‘bloated’ was offensive, we removed it, but it continues to be used by the ones who asked us to remove it. That’s very unchristlike. I feel I responded in a Christlike way [to remove it].”

In spite of the SBC having restructured its entities a dozen years ago, Hunt said it’s not too soon to look at it again. “The question was even asked in an [SBC] Executive Committee report–did we really make a great enough commitment in 1997?” Hunt recalled.

“There’s a lot of fear out there because some have chosen to say that they question my intent, my motive. I would ask them to challenge me on the writing of the document, not the intent, unless they think I’m an evil man and if I am, I pray that same group will go ahead and run a candidate that has greater integrity.”

Instead, he wondered aloud if the openness to asking questions depends upon who is doing the asking. “Others have called for this same type of challenge, but with stronger words. So my question is can you ask this question as long as you’re someone else?”

He expects those who study the convention will find “real celebration points” along the way. “I think they are going to say, ‘Gosh, we’re doing even better than we thought,’ and at the same time say, ‘We could do better.'”

Having made changes that provided a “win-win” result, Hunt said he would reject any appeal for removing Article IX calling for examination of the denominational structure. “That’s like saying let’s use this language we’re all familiar with, but take any teeth out of it that might challenge us. The major change that could happen is in number nine. It gives people greater passion and desire to support the Cooperative Program as long as we continue over the years to hold ourselves to greater accountability.”

The call for self-assessment is already gaining traction among some denominational entities, Hunt said, citing studies underway in his home state convention, at the North American Mission Board, as well as cuts in expenditures at the International Mission Board.

Responding to Executive Committee President Morris Chapman’s contention in a May 29 Baptist Press column that “the slippage in Cooperative Program giving is at the local church level” where the percentage given has declined from 8.24 percent to 6.08 percent in the last decade, Hunt said the point is well taken.

He noted his own church’s increase of another $50,000 for the Cooperative Program for the second year in a row at a time when the budget for First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., was lowered. “It has got to begin with me. Are we using our resources best to be a Great Commission church?” Hunt said he has heard from other local pastors who have made similar commitments to increased CP giving.

Last year the Woodstock church reported nearly $17.5 million in undesignated receipts with $432,977 given to the cooperative Program, amounting to 2.48 percent, according to the Georgia Baptist Convention. In addition to $57,500 sent to the local association, the congregation contributed $175,000 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and reported nearly $3 million for other mission gifts.

For critics to question Hunt’s own commitment to the SBC by focusing on his church’s percentage rather that the total dollars given is out of line, Hunt added. “Is there a point where you can’t say that about someone who is so Southern Baptist involved?” he asked, emphasizing that 128 families from his church are serving in ministry fields and 78 Southern Baptist church plants have been planted during his tenure.

“It’s something that really is not in writing that every church give 10 percent to CP,” Hunt said. Designating funds made it possible for them to underwrite a major outreach effort of the IMB in the Middle East, he said.

Hunt rejected the charge that he desires to redefine Cooperative Program giving to include designated gifts. “I never said that. I don’t’ feel that way and I’m not going to push for that. One day maybe there will be another way to celebrate those who choose to be more personally involved and go where their money goes and be involved in a different way in Southern Baptist life instead of really large CP dollars.” Pastors who lead those churches are committed to the SBC, he said, but “placed out there as non-missional.”

“Now the word has been changed that I’ll decimate the SBC,” Hunt said, making a passing reference to a letter Chapman sent to Executive Committee members. In the May 29 letter, obtained by the TEXAN, Chapman warned, “If this change is enacted by the task force to be appointed by the SBC president, the Cooperative Program will be decimated in only a very few years.”

Chapman also wrote, “If we jettison the Cooperative Program and go back to the societal funding model, we will get the same results we did before 1925—bankruptcy and failure. If we bypass the trustee system by adopting presidential fiat, we replace our cooperative methodology with the vagaries of personality,” Chapman wrote. “And if we wed our autonomous partners together unintentionally by tying structure across the board to the preferences of a single committee recommendation bereft of thoughtful Executive Committee review, we render the entirety of the Convention and its kindred bodies vulnerable to the assault of any single attacker on any missiological, doctrinal, legal, philosophical, or functional front.”

Hunt told editors: “There’s pretty strong language when you say the president is trying to dismantle CP. How under heaven would I, as a pastor, lead my church to give $525,000 undesignated and $2 million to Southern Baptists causes? Why would I try to dismantle what I’ve led my people to give so much money to for so many years? If I do that I am the biggest fool that this convention has ever elected as president. That’s not my intent.”

He added, “I want to give him credit,” referring to Chapman. “I feel he’s leading the way he feels he should from where he sits as an executive officer and I feel like I’m leading from where I sit as pastor of a local church. I really do feel these initiatives are where grassroots Southern Baptists are.”

In a May 29 BP column Chapman also challenged Hunt for thinking “reorganizing the Convention is the road to revival,” characterizing Article IX as “divisive” and “distracting.”

“I pray that God sends revival,” Hunt responded. “If he were to begin to give Southern Baptists once again a great impetus for incredible growth both financially and numerically, we still need to ask questions. Are we doing as much as we possibly can in making the funds available to areas that have brought us together,” he added, referring to missionary enterprises.

“I think there are some things that if we address them now could move us forward with greater unity into the future,” Hunt said.

“If the denomination empowers me to appoint a task force, my thought was not to see it go beyond a year,” Hunt added. “It’s not like I’m on a witch hunt and want to find some stuff. I’m not out to reveal salaries. I’m about greater commitment.”

He clarified his motive for examining the bureaucracy, stating, “If we look back at 1976, it took less that 1 percent of the CP budget to fund the national headquarters and now it’s at 2.86 percent of a much larger budget,” Hunt said, referring to the Executive Committee. “Is there accountability in place? Is it fair to ask the question, ‘Can the bureaucracy quit getting bigger and bigger so that when the money gets bigger we’re able to send greater portions?’”

Hunt expressed a degree of disillusionment with some of the response to his proposal. “It’s a little hurtful when you write a document that, from what I read, has some strong language when you try to question the motive of a man’s heart—and that’s in print.”

Although he has no further plan to respond to Chapman’s critique of GCR in Baptist Press, Hunt said the two men talked shortly before Chapman’s article was published.

“He feels he’s protecting the convention and I feel like I’m leading it to greater days,” Hunt added.

In his letter to Executive Committee members, Chapman also raised the question of whether Hunt’s approach violates SBC Bylaw 18, bypassing the EC assignment to advise the convention on questions of cooperation among entities and those of other conventions, whether state or national. While Hunt told editors he is seeking a system of checks and balances to ensure accountability, Chapman wrote that the EC exists for that purpose between annual meetings.

“The last thing I want to do is be in violation of a convention policy,” Hunt told the editors when asked about the charge. “We’re working on it now and it’s being studied.

If I find I’m in violation of something I will be brought in line rightly and desirously so. I’m a local church pastor and not a parliamentarian.”

Pressing the question further, Hunt asked, “Is there some checks and balances back to the local church on every level where I have to write as a local church pastor who supports this denomination—and we send a lot of dollars. They can use percentages till hell freezes over, but the bottom line is everyone there is paid and every missionary is paid not by percentages, but by dollars.”

Insisting that grassroots Southern Baptists want to know the funds are being used for maximum impact, Hunt said, “We want to send more. I’m just trying to ask the question. It may come to the point where even the passion to try to do what I’m doing will be squelched. If so, I fear the reactions of this denomination if there is not some way the parliamentarian can tell us to ask the questions I’m asking and get good answers.”

Hunt previously stated that he anticipates leading pastors, a state convention executive director, a seminary president and a college president will be among the dozen people named to the task force. Asked if he would be open to allowing various groups to select their own participant in the study, Hunt said he’d give the idea some thought.

“I can’t just say I will let state executive directors pick a state executive director when I’ve got documents in files here where they said some very untruthful and hurtful things [about GCR].”

Hunt said he didn’t want a person with a critical spirit representing the concerns of Southern Baptists. “Not on my charge, if I’m the one who has the opportunity of appointing the committee.” Instead, he pledged to appoint “a very fair committee if it gets that far.”

He confirmed that he has agreed to meet with a group of state convention executive directors June 8 to further clarify his views and answer their questions. “I’m not sure who all is coming, but they asked if I would meet and I said any and all. I have no hidden agenda.”

“What if God chose to really give a phenomenal increase to the body of Christ in the Southern Baptist context. I would like to hear it said that if some of our state conventions need extra help, maybe some have grown to a certain place where they send 50 percent now [beyond the state] and larger sums of that money continue on.” Hunt said that kind of generosity by state conventions “would keep us from being tempted in our churches to give designated gifts.”

“I’m really thinking not so much in terms of reshifting chairs on the deck as much as there being more chairs,” he said. After pastoring for 33 years, Hunt said he has good reason to dream, having seen great victory in local churches. “I want to challenge pastors to have afresh encounter with God—have the capacity to believe God again and believe all that will flow out of that.”