Month: May 2010

TX social studies curricula passes, but critics abound

AUSTIN?The Texas State Board of Education’s vote to adopt changes to social studies curricula has supporters affirming what they say is academic balance brought to left-leaning subject matter, while critics are crying foul over alleged downplaying of church-state separation, among other things.

In a 9-5 vote along party lines, the GOP-dominated board adopted the standards that will guide instruction in Texas public schools for nearly 5 million students and determine content for future textbooks and standardized tests. Texas is influential in the textbook market because it buys or distributes about 48 million books annually, influencing textbook content nationally.

The board, in maintaining most of the changes initially approved in March and ratified with the May 21 vote, refused some suggested revisions to social studies standards, opting to retain requirements that students learn about historical notables such as Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison and adding language about significant political ideas, including the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” cited in the Declaration of Independence.

Among the board’s more controversial changes is a requirement that students “compare and contrast” the doctrine of church-state separation?rooted in U.S. Supreme Court rulings?with First Amendment language that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”

Some conservative groups such as the Liberty Institute (formerly the Free Market Foundation) defended the requirement while Americans United for Separation of Church and State labeled it the product of a “right-wing fundamentalist bloc” on the board.

Board member Mavis Knight (D-Dallas) argued the requirement implies that Supreme Court rulings tying church-state separation to the First Amendment are illegitimate, while former board chairman Don McLeroy (R-College Station) said students should weigh “the current view of separation of church and state with the actual language in the First Amendment,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

Thomas Jefferson, who was removed from a list of leading Enlightenment philosophers in world history standards, was restored to that list, joining Voltaire, John Locke and others. McLeroy had argued Jefferson was not a leading Enlightenment thinker but a product of those philosophers.

Jefferson also remained in the American history curriculum, though there was outcry after false reports he had been removed from the standards altogether.

At board meetings late last year, references to Christmas and Rosh Hashanah were reinserted into the standards after attempts by a revision committee of educators and historians to scuttle them in favor of Diwali, a five-day Hindu festival. Those changes remained in the final standards approved this month.

Earlier, the board rejected attempts to change date references of A.D. and B.C. to C.E. and B.C.E. (common era and before common era, respectively), despite contention from board member Mavis Knight (D-Dallas) that C.E. and B.C.E. are now standard in academic circles.

The new standards also added references to:

?free market economist Milton Friedman, who heavily influenced Ronald Reagan’s supply-side approach to economics, as a notable contributor to economics.

?the idea of “American exceptionalism”?that American ideals are different and unique from other nations.

?America as a “constitutional republic” rather than a “democracy.”

?major political ideas in history including inalienable rights, the divine right of kings, social contract theory, and the rights of resistance to illegitimate government.

Texas reviews standards in given subjects every 10 years.

The state’s major papers, including the Dallas Morning News and the Austin American-Statesman, criticized the new standards, with the Dallas paper hinting that the fight might not be over. It editorialized May 26 that several new board members who take office Jan. 1 should “work fast” to overturn the changes, even though, it admitted, textbook publishers would be hesitant to wait on even more changes.

The board drew wide media attention last year when it ratified new science standards requiring biology students to “analyze, evaluate and critique” scientific theories, “examining all sides of scientific evidence” with “critical thinking.”

Criswell grads told: Reflect on God’s faithfulness

DALLAS?Forty-one students were awarded bachelor of arts degrees, 19 students earned the master of arts and one received master of divinity during the 35th annual commencement exercises of Criswell College on May 8.

Michael A. Deahl was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the school’s board of trustees, recognizing distinguished service in the cause of Jesus Christ. Deahl was commended for 30 years of service at First Baptist Church of Dallas, including 21 years of which he served as a deacon and 12 years on the school’s trustee board, the last five as chairman.

Deahl also was recognized for serving as a trustee of LifeWay Christian Resources, on numerous committees of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and as a member of the board of directors for the Kelly Green Evangelistic Association.

A graduate of the University of Wyoming with a degree in business and the University of Wyoming College of Law with a juris doctorate degree, Deahl began his legal career in Dallas in 1980 and became a founding partner of Powell Coleman & Arnold LLP in 1995.

He and his wife, Susan, have one daughter.

In presenting the honorary degree, Criswell College Interim President Lamar E. Cooper Sr. commended Deahl’s service.

David L. Henderson, a board-certified psychiatrist recently was named to the Hope for the Heart counseling chair and serving as professor of psychology and counseling, offered the commencement address. He encouraged graduates to use the day “as a check point, to stop and take a breath, reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness.”

Quoting Isaiah 66:9, Henderson said. “These are days that confirm to us the promise God gave, ‘I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.'” He compared the scrolls certifying their degrees to the stones the Israelites set as monuments to God’s faithfulness. “The purpose is the same, to never forget that the God who brought you in is the God who will bring you out. The God who led you to this present place is the God who will sustain you in the future that awaits.”

Lordship of Christ, generosity required for GCR

In my August 2009 TEXAN column I addressed my intentions as a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF). I stated that the most pressing need for the Southern Baptist Convention was spiritual awakening. This has not changed. The majority of the GCRTF progress report unveiled at the SBC’s Executive Committee in February was devoted to spiritual needs. Unfortunately, the practical proposals affecting structural change seemed to overshadow for some the call for revival.

My prayer is that individual Southern Baptists will submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of life. This would generate fervor for souls, holiness in lifestyle and sacrificial giving. Also, I pray for Southern Baptist churches to be faithful to the whole counsel of God. This would be evident in theological fidelity, in practical expressions of Christ-likeness, and in an unselfish giving toward penetrating lostness. If individual Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches experience a spiritual awakening, the SBC will have a spiritual renaissance.

PRACTICAL MATTERS

Even with a new spiritual vibrancy, there are practical matters in the SBC to address. These practical matters have spiritual implications. The local church is headquarters. Associations, state conventions and national agencies cannot tell a local church what to do. Local church messengers work through a difficult process to influence national agencies. The mechanics of cooperative ministry in the SBC is messy. Working together we must find a way to accomplish the Great Commission. The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has attempted to help churches find a way.

There are hot buttons in the GCRTF report. After many listening sessions the progress report was modified to help NAMB get better focus without unintended negatives. The term “Great Commission Giving” simply replaces the title of “total mission expenditures” on a reporting form. The GCRTF proposal strengthens the position of the Cooperative Program by highlighting CP as the preferred way to give to Southern Baptist causes.

The task force is presenting a vision that begins a process of moving more personnel and funds to penetrate the greatest lostness. There is lostness everywhere. With limited resources and seemingly unlimited lostness, we must prioritize our assets.

Texas has 24 million people with the vast majority lost. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention cannot reach all the lost people in Texas, much less in North America or around the world. However, we have strong churches, a praying people, and a focused state convention that plans to present the gospel to every person in Texas.

We want to share as much as possible with the greater underserved and unreached areas of North America and the world. The SBTC sends on 55 percent of the Cooperative Program budget to national and international causes through the SBC. We are preparing to relinquish $600,000 NAMB is investing in Texas through our partnership so others who have less opportunity to hear about Jesus may do so.

The executive committee of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Executive Board voted unanimously to endorse the GCRTF report (Read the committee’s resolutions on pages 2-3). The Executive Board was polled. They expressed their opinion by all respondents approving the committee’s action. By the grace of God and the cooperative giving of God’s people through the churches of the SBTC, we will more than recover the funds we give away. Let’s take care of Texas and join others to reach the world.

Faithful God led one family from overseas

MABANK?For the Schieffer family, a desire to serve outside their church walls has led them down a path of blessings and hardship, yet in every circumstance they testify of “simply following God’s will.”

An unexpected departure from the mission field, a battle with cancer, and closed doors to an immediate return to overseas work would for some people be reason enough to doubt their call or deter them from pursuing open doors for ministry. However, for Eddie and Kelly Schieffer of Mabank, they view their experiences as “an opportunity to learn to trust God and trust in his nature that he is faithful,” Kelly Schieffer said.

God started to place a call in Eddie Schieffer’s life in March 2007 as he visited the International Mission Board website in search of a family summer camp. His curiosity led him to explore the website and learn about opportunities for serving overseas.

“I’m a teacher. I didn’t feel qualified as an evangelist, but I started praying about it and felt like God wanted us to do this,” Eddie Schieffer said. “I told my wife, and she told me ‘I’m crazy’ but she prayed, and said, ‘You’re right.'”

They filled out the application and went through the interview process, and by August had an assignment to serve in the North Africa Middle East Region (NAME). Eddie would serve as a teacher in a missionary school. They completed two months of training and by January the Schieffer family boarded a plane heading to their new home.

“We were planning on continuing full-time language until Eddie started teaching in August,” Kelly said.

With language learning as their first priority, they quickly settled into a routine that would combine homeschooling and language learning together. A tutor would come to their homes four days a week for three hours and teach the family the local language.

“Our children learned so quick. We [Eddie and Kelly] went over the lesson two or three hours more,” Kelly said.

The afternoons were spent exploring the new city, practicing the new language and beginning to build relationships with people in their community. Their musical talents led to an open door of joining the symphony and teaching three students percussion. Gospel seeds were planted as they answered the questions their Muslim students asked.

Doors to share the gospel were beginning to crack open; they had progressed in their language to a point where they were beginning to learn how to share the gospel in the local language.

“? And then, we came back,” Kelly said.

ILLNESS CUT MISSION SHORT

Four and a half months into their three-year overseas commitment, the Schieffers were packing their belongings and heading back home for medical reasons. Kelly had discovered lumps in her lymph nodes; a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?far enough along to need immediate treatments.

“We wanted to stay there (NAME) and do the treatments, but ultimately we came back,” Kelly Schieffer said. “It was really a disappointment ? we didn’t even feel like we had done anything mission-ish.”

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First Person: A moral and just response to the immigration crisis

NASHVILLE, Tenn.?The time has come for our nation to resolve its immigration crisis. It is imperative that we find an acceptable solution to the plight of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in our nation. Currently, the two extremes of deportation or amnesty are being played against each other, resulting in a stalemate in Congress and growing frustration and division in society.

The recent passage of the new law in Arizona is a cry for help from the citizens of a state made desperate by the federal government’s shameful and flagrant dereliction to its duty to control the nation’s borders and to enforce its laws. This is manifestly a federal responsibility and the U.S. government has failed in its responsibilities to its citizens under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

The Arizona law is a symptom, not a solution. While I sympathize with the plight of the beleaguered citizens of Arizona, the law they have passed faces severe challenges. Attorneys I trust and respect tell me that if the law survives the manifold court challenges it faces and goes into effect, it will be abused by genuinely bad people (like drug dealers and human traffickers) whose unscrupulous lawyers will claim falsely that they were victims of racial profiling and prejudice when they were arrested legitimately.

Neither of the extreme solutions of deportation or amnesty are appropriate, workable solutions. To force those who are here illegally to leave is neither politically viable nor humanitarian. To offer “amnesty” to those who broke the immigration laws of our country is disrespectful of the rule of law. What is needed is a solution that respects the rule of law while at the same time treats undocumented immigrants compassionately.

As Christians, we must think through the question of illegal immigration not only as concerned citizens, but also as compassionate Christians. As citizens of the United States we have a right to expect the government to fulfill its divinely ordained mandate to punish those who break the law and to reward those who do not (Romans 13:1-7).

As citizens of the heavenly kingdom (the church), we also have a divine mandate to act redemptively and compassionately toward those in need. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12). Our Lord instructed his followers to meet the needs of those who are suffering (Matthew 25:31-36). The writer of the Book of Hebrews instructed his readers to “show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2).

As U.S. citizens we have a right to expect the federal government to enforce the laws regarding who may cross our borders. Border security is a question of national security, domestic safety and tranquility, and the federal government fulfilling its divinely mandated responsibilities to enforce the law.

As people of faith we must lead our churches to engage in multi-faceted human needs ministries on a massive scale to meet the physical and spiritual needs of millions of men, women and children living in the shadows of society where they are exploited by the unscrupulous and victimized by predators.

As citizens, we also have a responsibility to help our nation respond to the plight of these millions of people in a manner that respects their innate dignity and humanity. The millions of undocumented workers living among us suffer as outcasts without the full protections of the law or full access to the opportunities this nation offers to all to fulfill their God-given potential.

It is imperative that the U.S. Congress?consistent with national sovereignty and national security?expeditiously find a way to resolve this moral problem in ways that are consistent with our national ideals.

I favor a measure that includes controlling the borders and enforcing immigration laws inside the country first, while offering no amnesty for lawbreakers. This is my position and the position that emerges from any fair and objective reading of a resolution on immigration that Southern Baptists adopted at their annual convention in June 2006.

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SBTC grant helping Russian church reach immigrants in New York

ALBANY, New York?There are more Russian-speaking people in New York than any other state. And the Russian Church of Albany (SBC) is reaching those who settled in that capital city, where the Hudson Baptist Association and the church have both benefited from a $100,000 grant from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Russian Church of Albany is the daughter congregation of Cross Road Church, which was one of the first Southern Baptist church plants in the area. After meeting for three years in a Unitarian facility, Russian Church of Albany bought, for about $90,000, a building just three blocks from Albany’s capitol building. The fledgling flock managed to scrape together some money. However, a no-interest loan from a Jewish man helped seal the deal. Formerly a church, the facility was serving as a nightclub when the Russian flock bought it.

Stepping out on faith, their own labor and money, and borrowed money, too, the Russian believers gutted the place, removing four tons of debris. After renovating the interior?which included adding a previously non-existent balcony?and constructing a fresh, exterior faæade over tired looking bricks, the young church had spent almost $250,000.

Under the leadership of Sergej Katko, the church’s pastor, the congregation intentionally bought a building close to where most Russians in Albany live. That’s why they also fashioned the building to reflect a cultural center with a coffee shop atmosphere, the likes of which are found in many cities and neighborhoods across Eastern Europe. “This means it’s not a ‘Sunday morning only’ church,” said Sean Pierce, the Hudson Association’s director of associational development, who added that the strategy helps reach unchurched Russians.

“One Russian immigrant was walking down the street and saw the church’s sign in his own language, knocked on the door, and upon entering, said, ‘I want to be a part of what’s going on here,'” Pierce related. U.S. Census data show that the church is the only Russian-speaking Southern Baptist church in New York state.

Immigrants in the U.S. are very effective networkers, Pierce explained. And since New York City is the major port of entry for Russian immigrants, “the Russian Church of Albany and Pastor Katko have unique and significant opportunities to be missionaries to their own people throughout the state,” Pierce said.

In addition to reaching Muslims and Jews from Russia, and other Russians, too, the church was also instrumental in an avowed atheist’s conversion to Christ. At the church’s dedication service, she shared how the church’s influence pointed her toward God.

EMPOWERMENT, NOT ENABLEMENT

Upon completing the renovation, members had to repay their loans. But because the church was financially overextended, local banks wouldn’t approve a debt repayment loan. However, the church dug deep, and through sacrificial giving and other donations they whittled the debt down to $50,000.

And thanks to a no-interest loan from the Hudson Baptist Association, Russian Church of Albany paid all its remaining debt. However, without the $100,000 grant from the SBTC for Hudson Association to start a foundation, the church still would be strapped.

“This is a great story of money empowering a church and not simply enabling them,” Pierce said. “These hard working people did it themselves on faith,” he added, saying that the SBTC and the association “were able to resource them at a critical point of their need. What the SBTC has helped us do is to aid church plants to procure their own viable facility so they can develop community identity and establish ongoing ministry.”

Still a pioneer area for Southern Baptist work, the Hudson Baptist Association has about 30 congregations. Only 10 have their own buildings, Pierce said. The others are paying an average rental fee of $3,000 a month, which makes it almost impossible for small congregations to do much else. “Most are able to service a mortgage payment, but they lack the down payment banks require,” Pierce said.

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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Radically different’ story about Baptists in Haiti emerges

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story is based on interviews with Paul Thompson, one of the 10 Baptists held in prison in Haiti.

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (BP)–Paul Thompson reads the media accounts describing the journey of he and nine other jailed Baptist volunteers in Haiti who are all now free, and scratches his head. He was there. What he reads is not what he experienced.

Thompson, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, was one of those 10 Baptist volunteers who went to Haiti in late January with the goal of taking orphans out of the earthquake-ravaged country and into an orphanage being started in the Dominican Republic. That trip took a disastrous turn Jan. 30 when the 10 were shocked to learn they were being charged with child kidnapping, with allegations swirling that the group had plans to sell the kids into slavery, or worse, harvest and sell their organs.

Such rumors were false, but it took more than 100 days to finally resolve the matter. Eight of them were freed in February, a ninth one released in March, and the final one — Laura Silsby — was let go May 17, more than 100 days after the ordeal began.

The story Thompson tells is far different from what has been described repeatedly in most media accounts.

“It’s radically different,” Thompson said.

For instance:

— The 10 Americans did not, as has been alleged in some accounts, go through the streets of Port-au-Prince passing out flyers and going door-to-door looking for children, Thompson said. Instead, the 33 children they were trying to take across the border in a medium-sized bus came from two orphanages, and orphanage workers told them that none of the children had parents.

— The group was told multiple times before they got to the border that their documentation and paperwork — the source of the controversy — was sufficient, Thompson said. A Haitian child services official said as much, as did a Haitian policeman and an orphanage director who has extensive experience transferring orphans from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

— The 10 Baptists were arrested in Port-au-Prince, and not at the border. They thought they would go free until UNICEF — a United Nations agency — got involved and pressed charges, Thompson says.

— They were arrested on Jan. 30, and not Jan. 29 as has been reported repeatedly.

Thompson said that ever since he was released from jail Feb. 17 — after spending 19 days there — he’s wanted the group’s side of the story told but feared going public would endanger members of the group that were still in prison. Everyone, though, is now free.

Their sole goals, Thompson says, were to spread the Gospel and to help children. That latter goal seemed to be on track until that disastrous afternoon of Jan. 30, when they were arrested and their lives were forever changed. Up until that afternoon, Thompson says, they saw no “red flags,” nothing to make them think, “Wait a minute, something’s not feeling good.”

THEIR FIRST TRIP INTO HAITI

The group’s Haiti story actually began five days prior to their arrest, when they boarded a Greyhound-sized bus at 6 a.m., Jan. 25, for the six-hour drive from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Port-au-Prince. The closer they got to the earthquake zone, the more destruction they saw, until finally, arriving in Haiti’s capital, it quickly became clear they were “in a leveled city.” Only a few buildings were left standing, and many of the city’s orphanages had moved their children to tent cities.

Before entering Haiti the group had made contact with a handful of orphanages, being told by the orphan directors that they were overcrowded and had quake orphans who could be moved to the Dominican Republic. But the first orphanage the group went to that day — despite being crowded and having children who were needing food — “completely changed” its story when Thompson and the others showed up. The orphanage was receiving food and water from outside agencies based on head count and didn’t want to lose any residents, Thompson said.

The Baptists did receive cooperation late that day at another tent city orphanage, which gave the group approximately six children to take to the Dominican Republic orphanage. The children were placed on the bus but taken off when a Haitian policeman named Leonard — who Thompson said became a “very helpful ally” — told the group the orphanage was not a “recognized” orphanage. He also told the group that they needed written permission from an orphanage director in order to cross the border with the children and take them to the Dominican Republic orphanage, New Life Children’s Refuge.

“And so we took these kids off our bus, gave them back into the care of the tent-city orphanage,” Thompson said. “… We cooperated with every government agency and personnel that we talked to.”

The policeman was “the first to tell us that all that is necessary for us is to have written documentation from an orphanage director transferring the custody of the children from his orphanage to New Life Children’s Refuge,” Thompson said.

Because the first orphanage didn’t cooperate and the second one didn’t have the proper paperwork, the group decided to go back to the Dominican Republic, where it would regroup, get a smaller bus — thus making it easier to navigate the streets — and make phone contact with other orphanages in Port-au-Prince to see if they had children who needed to be housed elsewhere safely. They also asked their three translators, who they were leaving behind and who had grown up in orphanages, to contact any orphanages they were close to and inquire about children. After a night’s sleep in Port-au-Prince, the Baptists drove to Santo Domingo on Jan. 26.

THEIR SECOND TRIP INTO HAITI

The group headed back toward Haiti on Jan. 27, and at the border was surprised when — without the group’s permission — border guards began loading strangers onto the bus for the trip into Port-au-Prince. Fearing for their safety the Baptists told the guards to take the new passengers off the bus. Yet amidst the chaos and confusion they did allow one man and his assistant to stay. His name was Jean Sainvil, a pastor who — providentially — directs orphans in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He had never met members of the group, but their shared interests quickly sparked a conversation on the bus about orphanages and needy children.

“He explained who he was and that he was trying to get back to his family in Port-au-Prince to assess more of the damage on the orphanages that he’s director of,” Thompson said. “… This director, this pastor, confirmed what the policeman told us the day before: that all that’s necessary to transfer orphans from orphanage to orphanage is custody transfer, written documentation from the orphanage director. So there’s a second confirmation for us that that’s the documentation that’s required and necessary.”

Sainvil told the group that at least one of his orphanages was completely destroyed and that it would be helpful if he could transfer some of its residents to New Life Children’s Refuge in the Dominican Republic. The two sides agreed to meet the next day at Sainvil’s. First, though, Sainvil was dropped off at a relative’s and the group went to a Christian school compound where they stayed the night.

SEEING ORPHANAGES IN RUINS

The next morning Thompson and the others met up with their translators, one of whom had made contact with an orphanage he grew up in that was overcrowded. When the bus arrived at the orphanage — located in a mountain village — the children, about 13 of them, were ready and waiting to board. Following protocol, Silsby got each child’s name, birthdate and

GCR Task Force: Sacrificial giving needed at all levels to advance gospel

NASHVILLE, Tenn.?It’s no surprise that the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) is calling for more sacrificial giving to accomplish a vision of more faithfully and effectively advancing the gospel.

Prior to the release of the GCRTF’s final report in early May, it was anybody’s guess as to whether that would best be accomplished by a stronger commitment to the SBC’s Cooperative Program (CP) giving plan, a greater portion of funds flowing from state conventions to mission causes embraced by all Southern Baptists, an increase in giving to targeted mission offerings or an emphasis on autonomous churches customizing their own plans for increased missions giving.

After nine months of study, the task force answered, “All of the above.”

The 22-member team ended speculation that the funding mechanism that has served the denomination since 1925 might be redefined. Southern Baptists are asked “to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our reach,” demonstrating that commitment by increasing the percentage of their CP giving. Without this “central and preferred conduit of Great Commission funding,” they would have “no unified and cooperative strategy and commitment to the Great Commission task,” the task force concluded.

State conventions are asked to increase the percentages of CP funds directed to the SBC while expecting those entities receiving CP dollars to maximize those funds with a sharper Great Commission focus.

The two mission offerings are described as indispensible conduits with a call to adopt significantly higher goals by 2015 of no less than $200 million for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and $100 million for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Every dollar given by Southern Baptists, including designated gifts to Baptist associations, state conventions and SBC causes should be celebrated, according to the task force. The report calls for the total of all monies channeled through Southern Baptist causes at every level to be recognized as Great Commission Giving.

Among the recommendations the task force is presenting to messengers at the June 15-16 SBC annual meeting in Orlando is an appeal for the Executive Committee?Southern Baptists’ administrative arm?to adopt the language and structure of the report “in order to enhance and celebrate the Cooperative Program and the generous support of Southern Baptists channeled through their churches.”

Increased sacrifice at every level of Southern Baptist life begins with individual Christians, the report acknowledges, with the task force challenging believers to grow toward giving “at least 10% of your income going to your local church” and to leave “a percentage of your estate to your local church, the Cooperative Program and to a faithful Baptist entity.”

Earlier this year, GCRTF chairman Ronnie Floyd of Springdale, Ark., expressed his amazement that the average church member gives only 2.56 percent of his income away. “Can you imagine the opportunities of advancing the gospel regionally, nationally and globally if God’s people would obey God in giving?” he asked.

Pastors are encouraged to “Preach regularly and passionately on Christian stewardship helping your people see this as a vital component of discipleship and life lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” the report reads. “Undergird this with lessons on biblical stewardship in your church’s Bible study ministries.”

Congregations are further challenged to set goals for LMCO and AAEO mission offerings and increase CP giving.

While the CP portion alloca

SBTC committee affirms GCRTF report


In three resolutions released on May 17, the executive committee of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Executive Board affirmed the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force’s (GCRTF) final report, urging its adoption by Southern Baptists.

In the first of the resolutions, the committee affirmed the GCRTF report as “thoroughly compatible with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s mission statement and core values” and urged messengers to the SBC annual meeting June 15-16 in Orlando, Fla., to “prayerfully consider supporting the report in its entirety.”

The GCRTF released the final report on May 2 after nine months of collaboration among its 22 members.

The SBTC committee’s other two resolutions cited particular support for the report’s third and fourth components, dealing, respectively, with “Great Commission Giving” to SBC causes, and the end of cooperative funding agreements between state conventions and the SBC’s North American Mission Board.

Regarding the Great Commission Giving component, the committee affirmed the GCRTF’s language describing the Cooperative Program “as the central and preferred conduit of Great Commission funding” while recognizing other “monies channeled through the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The resolution calls on churches “affiliated with our convention to aspire to greater support for Great Commission causes primarily through the Cooperative Program but also through designated gifts to Southern Baptist causes.”

The third resolution, dealing with the SBC’s North American Mission Board (NAMB), would result in the SBTC losing approximately $600,000 in allocations that essentially bounce back to Texas after being sent through the Cooperative Program to NAMB. The GCRTF recommends ending such funding agreements, arguing such resources should be redirected to new-work areas of North America.

Additionally, the committee resolution encourages the SBTC board “to begin the process of budgeting changes intended to make more missions money available for ministry in the most underserved and unreached areas of North America.”

The committee’s action followed a motion approved during the SBTC Executive Board’s spring meeting in April to make a positive statement, “if appropriate,” regarding the GCRTF’s final report.

The task force, an ad hoc committee that will disband after the SBC annual meeting next month, is chaired by Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., and The Church at Pinnacle Hills. It includes two Texans: Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and Ruben Hernandez, associate Spanish pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

Text of resolutions on GCRTF

In three resolutions released on May 17, the executive committee of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Executive Board affirmed the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force’s (GCRTF) final report, urging its adoption by messengers to the SBC annual meeting June 15-16 in Orlando, Fla.

 

The full text of each resolution is as follows:

 

On the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report

?Whereas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention exists to facilitate the advance of the Great Commission among the churches and associations in Texas; and

?Whereas, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Final Report, released on May 3, 2010, includes many significant spiritual exhortations and practical insights intended to focus the Southern Baptist Convention on the task of addressing the Great Commission of our Lord to “make disciples of all the nations,” an intention thoroughly compatible with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s mission statement and core values; be it therefore

?Resolved, that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention affirms the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Final Report and urges messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, to prayerfully consider supporting the report in its entirety.

 

On Implementation of Component Three of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Final Report

?Whereas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention exists to facilitate the advance of the Great Commission among the churches and associations in Texas; and

?Whereas, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Louisville, Kentucky June 24, 2009, voted overwhelmingly to establish a Great Commission Resurgence Task Force for the purpose of bringing a report and recommendation concerning how Southern Baptists can work more faithfully and effectively together in serving Christ through the Great Commission; and

?Whereas, the Final Report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force was released May 3, 2010 therein calling for two specific actions and offering five requests for consideration by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

?Whereas, component three of this report calls the Cooperative Program “the central and preferred conduit of Great Commission funding,” and calls for Southern Baptists to “recognize the total of all monies channeled through the causes of the Southern Baptist Convention,” designated and undesignated; and

?Whereas, the sum of Cooperative Program giving and designated giving exclusively to Southern Baptist causes (associations, mission offerings, etc.) is titled Great Commission Giving in this component of the report; and

?Whereas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is particularly dependent on Cooperative Program giving because the Convention retains only 45 percent of undesignated receipts for Texas ministry, but is also blessed to receive designated funds such as the Reach Texas offering to fund evangelism and missions in Texas; be it therefore

?Resolved, that the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Committee meeting on May 11, 2010 affirms the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Component Three related to Great Commission Giving; and, be it further

?Resolved, that the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Committee encourages messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in <st1:Cit