Month: October 2010

Moore, Merida among preachers at SBTC Bible Conference

For the past year, SBTC Bible Conference officers have mulled over a desire to start making a difference in the communities in which they serve. That burden became the theme of “Why Not Here? Why Not Now?” in planning the Nov. 14-15 pre-convention SBTC Bible Conference to be held at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.

“My heart’s desire is that we preach Christ now with a passion, conviction, and fervency we have never known, that pastors and staff will be encouraged with a fresh vision to take the gospel back to our cities, towns, and communities to ‘preach Christ’ and to love our neighbors and reach them for his glory,” said Heath Peloquin, pastor of Brighton Park Baptist Church in Corpus Christi who is serving as this year’s Bible conference president.

“The over-arching theme of the Bible conference is: ‘Why not start by making a difference now?’ ‘Why not begin asking God to move in our churches and state now?’ With a burden for the lost and compassion for the hurting we can answer those questions with certainty. Yes here, and yes now, we have determined in our hearts that the gospel demands that we do everything we can to reach our churches, communities, cities, state and ultimately the world!”

The meeting gets underway Sunday evening at 6 p.m. with music by the combined choirs, orchestras and praise bands from Corpus Christi area SBTC churches.

Speakers include Patrick Payton, senior pastor of Stonegate Fellowship in Midland and Steven Smith, dean of the College at Southwestern and professor of communications.

The Monday morning session begins at 9 a.m. with Jason Breland, worship pastor of First Baptist Church in North Mobile, Ala., leading music. Speakers include Dwight Singleton, pastor of Galilee Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., and Russell Moore, dean of the school of theology and senior vice president of academic administration of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the preaching pastor of the Fegenbush location of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

Two ministry café options are offered at 11:30 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. featuring Steve and Debbie Wilson, founders of Marriage Matters Now, addressing “Marriage and Family Needs in Ministry” and Russell Moore of Southern Seminary and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute speaking in a Pastor’s Forum. Cost for the meal is $5 and reservations may be made online at www.sbtexas.com/AM10 or by calling 877-953-SBTC.

The afternoon session resumes at 1:15 p.m. with messages from Tony Merida, preaching pastor of the west campus of Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and executive vice president for spiritual affairs at Liberty University.

Serving along with Peloquin are Nathan Lorick, pastor of First Baptist Church in Malakoff as first vice president, and Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville as second vice president.

Drawing from Colossians 1:28-29 and John 4:23-24 for direction in following the theme, Peloquin said, “We have staked our claims in the truth of Scripture and we will not be discouraged because it begins right here and right now. At the Bible conference we are asking God to move on our hearts and lives in such a life-changing way to transform our churches and communities like never before in Corpus Christi. I am inviting every pastor, staff member, and every church lay leader this November to make it a priority to be apart of this opportunity to stand as one and ask God to come and move in our state like never before,” he added.

“It begins here and now. May revival sweep across our state as we answer the question, ‘Why not here? Why not now?'”

Burn victim blazing new trails

Fort Worth man placed on waiting list for rare facial transplant.

FORT WORTH?Dallas Wiens bears little of his former image?at least not above the shoulders. But by all accounts, the image of God in him shines brighter than before. Soon, with the help of leading-edge medical science, a new face will adorn the 25-year-old burn victim.

Wiens learned on Oct. 8 that he is in line to become only the third person in the United States to receive a facial transplant that will radically transform his marred physical image and give him advantages unthinkable only a few years ago for someone with his injuries.

Wiens’ contact with a high-voltage electrical line while painting a church in November 2008 should have killed him. It left him blind and badly disfigured, but lucid and remarkably functional.

If a suitable facial donor is identified, Wiens would fly to Boston within hours to undergo the rare procedure at Brigham and Women’s Hospital followed by weeks and months of post-operative care in Boston and at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

In a joint statement released by both hospitals on Oct. 13, Wiens announced the news he’d been waiting for: he was officially on the transplant list with the New England Organ Bank.

News coverage of Wiens’ case has focused on the breakthrough medical techniques that to the layman might seem more fitting for a futuristic novel than real-life medicine. But his press statement went deeper.

“My faith in Christ has driven me through the trials that I have faced. It has not been in my own strength that I have come to the point that I am today. I firmly believe that he will see me through any thing that is to come. There is no reason to allow a few hurdles to keep me from finishing ‘The Race.'”

BEATING THE ODDS
On Nov. 13, 2008, Wiens, his oldest brother and an uncle were finishing a painting job at the church he attended as a boy, Ridglea Baptist in Fort Worth, just a few blocks from the house he’d grown up in, when the cherry picker Wiens was painting from made contact with a high-voltage wire.

Rushed by helicopter 35 miles to Parkland’s world-renowned burn center, surgeons spent a grueling 36 hours over two days working to save Wiens’ life and his devastated facial structure. It was the worst burn case Parkland had seen in 30 years, doctors told the family.

Forty-eight hours later, doctors gave the family slim hope, his grandmother, Sue Peterson, said. Hours passed, then days and weeks. Bracing for the worst, doctors told the family that Wiens would likely be paralyzed from the neck down, would never speak or produce enough saliva to eat solid food.

Not only did Wiens survive, but once he awoke from a medically induced coma three months after the accident, he made unprecedented progress.

Wiens left the hospital in spring 2009, chunked his wheelchair into a storage shed that June, and today is walking six blocks at a time with a cane to help him locate landmarks in his Fort Worth neighborhood.

He’s up to 27 push-ups and is a regular at Starbucks, where a cap and sunglasses partly mask his disfigurement. He’s also taking college classes online, studying Scripture with audio and online Bible software, and following his beloved Oklahoma Sooners football team with his ears and his mind’s eye.

But most significant to Wiens are the spiritual blessings gained at the expense of his eyesight, his face as he knew it, and the sensation of a hug or kiss from his 3-year-old daughter, Scarlette.

“When you can’t feel your daughter’s kisses, that’s hard,” Wiens admitted.

Formerly far from God, in his words, the accident took him to the edge of eternity and back. Wiens repented before the Christ he was taught about and professed as a child. He also joined Ridglea Baptist, where his grandparents are members, and has weekly sessions with his pastor to discuss faith and other topics.

“In the midst of my despising God, he was right behind me, preparing me to do his work,” Wiens said.

For now, Wiens’ face is draped in skin and muscles painstakingly transplanted from his calf, thigh and back. These muscle flaps, as they are called, provided surgeons the ability to restore some structure and skin to his face. Also, his speech is remarkably clear relative to his injuries.

With the facial transplant, surgeons are confident Wiens will have most of the sensation and functionality restored to his face, though he would remain blind. One eye was completely devastated; the other remains intact and the ocular nerve is “alive,” but technology to restore sight in that eye is years away, Wiens said.

Doctors have told him he has a zero chance of resembling the facial donor and a 60 percent chance he will have some recognizable traits from his former face.

According to an information sheet provided by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, suitable facial donors may be no more than 10 years older nor less than 20 years younger than the transplant candidate, skin color and texture must be similar, blood types must match, and the donor match must be within a four-hour travel radius.

His surgery in Boston at the hands of Bohdan Pomahac, a plastic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and director of its burn center, and subsequent care while there, will involve a transplant team of more than three dozen clinicians, including eight surgeons, as well as other doctors and nurses from multiple disciplines, from cardiology to infectious disease, Pomahac said.

His recovery in Boston will take weeks, followed by months of post-operative care at the hands of Jeffrey Janis, chief of plastic surgery at Parkland, who has cared for him since the accident, and Parkland’s team of specialists.

Wiens will eventually get dental implants and prosthetic eyes as well.

He will require about $2,000 a month in immunosuppressant drugs for the foreseeable future, something his health coverage will pay for. The surgery itself is paid for by a Defense Department grant and is part of a case study to benefit disfigured and burned service members?something Wiens, an Army veteran, is excited about.

“It’s not all about me and my story. I’m paving the way for others,” he said.

Wiens said he learned of his placement on the waiting list several days prior to the public announcement, and is now ready to travel to Boston with his grandfather, Del Peterson, when the phone call comes.

American Airlines flew Wiens to Boston for his last visit during the evaluation process and has already agreed to fly Wiens there again on the first available flight from Dallas.

“I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the teams at Parkland Memorial Hospital that have brought me thus far,” he said in the statement announcing his placement on the waiting list. “I have been making medical history from day one and as several chapters have been closed new ones are being written. I am glad to step into this newest chapter with faith and hope.

“I am supremely confident in the skills of each member of the facial transplant team at Brigham. Their desire to push the envelope is matched by my own. I am staring down the beginning of a brand new life; as far as I can see, this new life is full of hope and joy and that is how I fully intend to face it.”

Wiens has established a fund to offset costs not covered by insurance and to help future burn victims with medical care at Wells Fargo bank. Contributions to the “Dallas About Face Fund” may be made at any Wells Fargo location or by mailing a check to Ridglea Baptist Church, 6037 Calmont Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76116.

A short video featuring Wiens is accessible at youtube.com/sbtcweb.
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Church shows grace to families with special-needs children

FORT WORTH–When Willis Richardson graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009, he never imagined he would plant a church for families with special-needs children in his community a year later. Yet this fall, Beth-El Fellowship in Fort Worth will launch with 35 members and a goal to become a “fully inclusive” church as it pertains to families.

“What we’re doing here is far beyond providing ministry to special-needs families,” Richardson said. “It is not just having those kids in a room so that they don’t interrupt big church. It is about making joyful noises, focusing on the body of Christ.”

And while the church reaches out to special-needs families, Richardson said he hopes Beth-El will become a church that reflects the diversity of the body of Christ. The church will be further down the road to that goal when God provides additional laypeople who feel called to teach and serve in such a community of believers.

“We decided to make Romans 12:4-5 our guiding verse for Beth-El. Its focus is not only being one with Christ, but also one with each other,” Richardson said. “In other words we can’t be all we are supposed to be in Christ without our relationships with one another.”

“We believe that everyone at Beth-El regardless of their race, age, socioeconomic status or even mental development contributes to the spiritual development of every other person in our body. This is the reason why we try to include everyone into every aspect of our church. We might all be different, but we all contribute to the development of the body of Christ.”

Richardson said the church is striving for a 50-50 ratio of families with special needs and those without. “Right now if everyone shows up on Sunday, we have about that ratio,” he said.

Regardless of numbers, Richardson stressed Beth-El seeks to ministers to families.

“It is a family ministry. The divorce rate is higher among those families with special needs. Siblings have anger issues,” he said. “We will take every person whether they have special needs or not, present the gospel, see them accept Christ, disciple in a way that person can understand and plug them into ministry.”

But Richardson said he wasn’t always aware of the pressing needs of special families in his community until he met a family with an autistic son.

“That one family came and opened our eyes to greater needs of the special-needs community,” he said. “When we heard about these families not being able to go to church, not feeling welcome, it just kind of yearned in my heart to minister to them.”

And when people question Richardson’s vision to plant a church for special-needs families, he said he directs them to James 1:27.

“True religion is caring for widows and orphans. When you look at the times it was those who couldn’t care for themselves. I think of the modern-day widow and orphan as the special-needs community?those that Christ loves that the world tends to marginalize.”

Yet when churches do accept special-needs families, Richardson said they tend to separate them from the rest of the congregation.

“We don’t want to create a special education church,” he said, describing special education programs in schools that offer separate classrooms and curriculum for special-needs children. “We don’t want to be a special education church where only special-needs families come to our church, and everyone else calls Beth-El Fellowship the special-needs church on the west side of Fort Worth.”

“We want to be a full-inclusion church–one that strives in every aspect of our church life to fully include all members in everything that we do as God has gifted.”

To this end, Richardson envisions special-needs children tasked with roles during worship such as playing in the praise band, greeting visitors, and even speaking during the service with assistance.

“I can’t think of a greater testimony than one who says ‘I thank God for my autism, because without it I wouldn’t have been humble enough to seek him as my Savior,'” Richardson said.

Heather Hall joined Beth-El about a year-and-half ago desperately seeking Christian fellowship. At the time Hall joined the church, her son, Benjamin, had recently been diagnosed with classic autism. Hall’s husband is currently serving in Iraq.

“Beth-El has accepted my son’s autism with open arms. When we first joined, he was completely non-verbal,” Hall said. “Not to mention the times he would scream like crazy and/or run up on the stage during Pastor Willis’ service.

“I needed the support and fellowship, and they gave me a place to serve and honor God regardless. They truly desire to be selfless, to allow others to hear God’s Word.”

Hall attended a variety of churches in the past and discovered that while many churches try to be accommodating, very few offer a ministry focusing on the unique concerns of special-needs families.

“There may be one or two members available to assist but not with the passion of Beth-El,” she explained. “Our mission is to train up all members to love all regardless of their needs, just as God did for us through his son, Jesus.”
Yet Hall and Richardson conceded that the vision of a full-inclusive church is not without its challenges.

“With most church plants you want to reach your population, bring them in, disciple them and help them see the vision of the church. And then from their gifts and tithes, you build your building,” Richardson said.

“With this population, the majority of them have been burned by churches in the past,” he explained. “Their child looks normal, but doesn’t act normal. Because the child looks normal, the parents usually get looks like ‘why can’t you control the child?’ And so they typically leave churches and isolate themselves.”

In order to attract families with special-needs children who feel unwelcome in a typical church, Richardson said they began outfitting the church building to make it more functional for children with special needs. Renovation began with an initial financial gift from Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

“The sensory overload can be enormous for the child,” Hall said, indicating that some special-needs children are bothered by bright lights and loud noises. “Naturally, the physical set-up can cause issues, but parents will accommodate for that if they can just find acceptance from believers such as God has accepted all of us.”

To address potential auditory issues during worship services, Richardson said they monitor the sound system and have chosen muted colors and hypo-allergenic flooring for the building. Additionally, they lowered the platform for wheelchair access.

“We tore out our baptistery, because it was a narrow stairway. I didn’t think we could get anyone in a wheelchair up there,” he said, adding that they hope to purchase a portable baptistery.

The church also added a “cry room” at the back of the church. “We like to call it a ‘practice praise room,’ where kids go back to learn how to worship. If they need to move around, make noise, they can look out through windows and have speakers and still know what’s going on.”

But Richardson said it is important for the children to be able “to look out and see proper behavior … all the while make it so it’s not interrupting the larger church service.”

Richardson hopes the renovations on the building will allow the children to feel acceptance and give them the opportunity to participate in worship. “Through that, we can modify their behavior and make that connection.”

Speaking personally, Richardson said it is often challenging to incorporate special-needs children in Sunday worship, particularly as he shares his sermon.

Grateful for the training he received at Southwestern that equipped him in expository preaching, Richardson said, “I preach without notes and that helps me to keep my focus. One time a girl’s suction tube went off and yet everyone stayed focused. There are kids running on stage or one will yell. I try to pick out people in the audience and stay focused in preaching to them.”

Richardson said the demonstration of biblical attitudes can also be a challenge in ministering to families with special needs.

“Parents are extremely passionate as they should be [about needs of their kids]. They have felt abandoned by medical community, schools, their own families, and the church,” Richardson said, noting that many special-needs families still grapple with resentment. “It would be a lot easier to put on a puppet show for a sermon and just say ‘we’re going to love you.’ That’s a lot easier than to hold you accountable to truly live out Christ.”

For more information about Beth-El Baptist church, visit them online at bffw.org.

Former president tapped as candidate to lead Criswell


DALLAS?Criswell College trustees will convene on Nov. 5 to consider the selection of former president Jerry Johnson to fill his former office, which has been under interim leadership for the past two years. “He is eminently qualified, specifically prepared, and joyfully welcomed to the presidency of Criswell College,” board chairman Jimmy Pritchard of Forney told the TEXAN.

The presidential search committee chaired by Steve Washburn of Pflugerville announced their unanimous recommendation Oct. 21 with Pritchard expressing confidence that the board would affirm the recommendation. Within six months of his resignation in August of 2008, Johnson was tapped by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., to serve as vice president for academic development, dean of the faculty and professor of ethics and theology.

“Having previously served as president, Dr. Johnson is aware of the special challenges facing the college,” Pritchard stated. “He will have an immediate and positive impact on the short term, and his vision for the college will reap great benefits for the long term.”

Search committee chairman Steve Washburn of Pflugerville explained that the dynamics of Criswell College’s governance had changed dramatically since Johnson resigned his presidency in 2008. “The college labored under external authority then, but is now independent. Since he provided excellent leadership for the college before, we are confident the improved circumstances will more than enable him to do so again.”

A native of Malakoff, Johnson pastored Ireland Baptist Church in Ireland, as well as two Colorado churches. He received his B.A. from Criswell College, M.A. from Denver Seminary, and Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, majoring in Christian ethics. He was employed at Southern for five years, later serving as dean of Boyce College, prior to his tenure as president of Criswell College from 2004-2008.

Crossover evangelism event Nov. 13


The annual Crossover pre-convention evangelistic outreach moves to the inner city of Corpus Christi this year.

Volunteers have already laid the groundwork by inviting 6,000 children to attend an evangelistic event featuring Team Impact.

Local Southern Baptists distributed backpacks on Aug. 8 that helped prepare students with supplies for the new school year and included a ticket to the Nov. 13 event that could prepare them for eternity.

Upon receiving the school supplies, students registered their contact information, which SBTC churches have been using to follow up with a gospel presentation as they visit families in their homes.

Jack Harris, SBTC ministry associate for personal and event evangelism, said Team Impact will be presenting their feats of strength and talking about positive values in Corpus Christi-area schools the week of Nov. 8-12. In their 10th year of ministry, the Coppell-based team utilizes the talents of elite athletes to gain the attention of audiences of every age.

“At those assemblies we will give out free tickets to their Saturday night presentation,” said Harris, in addition to the tickets placed in the backpacks.
With 3,000 chairs in Exhibit Hall B of the American Bank Center, Harris hopes to see many young people and adults respond to a gospel invitation presented by the weightlifting team.

Local SBTC churches will follow up on anyone making a profession of faith and visit the families of students receiving the backpacks.

For more information on this year’s Crossover evangelistic outreach, visit sbtexas.com/evangelism or call 1-877-953-SBTC.

Join us to ‘Pray and Listen’ Nov. 15-16

You are invited to attend the SBTC Annual Meeting in Corpus Christi Nov. 15-16. You probably have more places to go than you can get to. I encourage you to make this brief time investment. Let me give you some reasons to make the trip.

Celebration
You will hear testimonies of people who had their lives changed through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers lead hundreds to Christ while providing emotional and physical assistance. Funded church starts in under-evangelized areas in Texas reach those who are going unreached.

Student evangelism teams in zero-baptism churches are used by God to bring new believers into the Kingdom. There are more points of celebration you will experience as we come together.

Information
With the website, the TEXAN and personal contact from SBTC staff, exciting news is communicated regularly. Over 100 ministries are coordinated and resourced through the SBTC. You could hear of a ministry that would benefit your church and bless others.

Two Southern Baptist Convention leaders will make their first SBTC Annual Meeting. Frank Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, and Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, will both address our gathering. These men will help guide us into the future as we partner together. Come hear their vision!

Motivation
Nothing stirs me like hearing the Word of God preached in power. Music ministers to my heart. Prayer brings me before the Lord. The spiritual element at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has always been the emphasis. Our Lord speaks to our hearts more clearly when we set aside time to hear from Him. You will not be disappointed when you attend the SBTC. Jesus will be exalted.

A NAMB missionary commissioning service highlights our annual meeting on Tuesday night. Seeing those who are willing to go anywhere to tell anyone about Jesus challenges me to be a better witness. The stories of the missionaries will raise the expectations in our own lives. When we leave Corpus Christi, God wants us to have a deeper passion for those who need Christ.

Fellowship
The SBTC is like a family gathering. It is a reunion of brothers and sisters in Christ. You will be encouraged by visiting with friends you have not seen since last year. You will be blessed by being with others who share your theological convictions. We have one heart for Reaching Texas and Touching the World. You will bless me by being in Corpus. We need one another.

I am excited about what God is about to do. We hear a lot of bad news. There are definitely concerns, but I believe that our future is greater than ever before. My optimism is not based only on the fact that Jesus is coming again. God has not changed. He wants to move in our lives. We can see Him show Himself mighty in our families, churches, the SBTC and the Southern Baptist Convention if we will pray and listen. Join me where we will be “Praying and Listening” in Corpus Christi.

SBTC meeting features new SBC leaders

CORPUS CHRISTI?Newly elected SBC entity leaders Kevin Ezell and Frank Page will be among those addressing messengers and guests from Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches Nov. 14-16 in Corpus Christi for the 2010 SBTC Bible Conference and Annual Meeting.

With a focus on 2 Chronicles 7:14’s admonition to humbly seek God’s face and a theme of “Praying and Listening,” the convention will culminate at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, Nov. 16 in what is being dubbed a “Commissioning Celebration” featuring a sermon by Ezell, the North American Mission Board president, and the commissioning of dozens of new missionaries charged with making disciples in the United States and Canada. More than 5,300 NAMB missionaries serve in 42 states and Canada.

Page will address the convention during his Executive Committee report around 2:55 p.m. on Nov. 16 (Tuesday).

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards said it is fitting that the convention business sessions will end with sending out workers into the Lord’s harvest.

“Seeing those who are willing to go anywhere to tell anyone about Jesus challenges me to be a better witness,” wrote Richards in his TEXAN column encouraging attendance at the meeting and commissioning service (see page 5). “The stories of the missionaries will raise the expectations in our own lives. When we leave Corpus Christi, God wants us to have a deeper passion for those who need Christ.”

KEVIN EZELL
Ezell, 48, was elected to lead NAMB in September. He comes to the SBC’s domestic mission agency after 14 years as pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., a 6,000-member church with a history of planting churches.

Ezell emphasized church planting in his first meeting with the NAMB staff following his election.

“Today, we’ve got the potential of entering a golden age of church planting. The GCR (Great Commission Resurgence) and Southern Baptists made it very clear that they want us to be about church planting,” Ezell said, according to a Baptist Press story.

At NAMB’s fall meeting in Los Angeles, Ezell told trustees NAMB must set aside what is good in order to pursue what is great, adding that a 25 percent staff cutback is necessary, according to a story by Joe Westbury posted on the website of The Christian Index.

“NAMB has the primary task to assist churches, not to employ people. Therefore we have to very objectively evaluate [differentiate] what is good from what is great. We cannot sacrifice what is great so we can do many things that are average-to-good [on a scale],” Ezell said, according to the Index. A NAMB audit will help parse those things, he said.

“What I do know is that not all NAMB staff will need to be fulltime and based in Alpharetta. We will decentralize but new positions will not necessarily be fulltime staff. We will use pastors and others who are doing a wonderful job where they are but can advise us in our efforts. We are now living in 2010; [due to technology] you do not have to have everyone [living] in Alpharetta in order to work together.

Ezell said the agency’s focus will be mobilizing Southern Baptists for evangelism that results in church planting, adding that church planting is the most effective evangelism strategy.

He said he expects NAMB to partner with associations and state conventions “to mobilize them even greater than in the past” and believes NAMB and the states can “be friends” despite phasing out old funding agreements.

FRANK PAGE
Page, who served as SBC president from June 2006 to June 2008, was elected president of the SBC Executive Committee in June and assumed his role on Oct. 1 at the retirement of Morris H. Chapman.

The North Carolina native was pastor of First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C., from 2001-2008, leaving there to head evangelism briefly at the North American Mission Board.

A champion of the SBC’s shared missions funding strategy known as the Cooperative Program, which he prioritized as a pastor at Taylors when his church designated more than 13 percent of its undesignated offerings for CP missions, Page is also a vocal advocate for personal witnessing.

He told EC staffers upon taking office, “Just know that I expect all of us to share Christ. You know what I’m talking about?in our normal traffic patterns of life.”

He has said his goal as EC president will be building a “covenant of trust” in the SBC.
“… I am trying to build relationships and trying to establish a covenant of trust to say, ‘Our old ship is in trouble. But with relationships and the power of the Lord, we can turn it around,” Page told the EC staff.

“Without relationships, we’re sunk.”

CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS
During the annual meeting, messages will be delivered by Terry Turner, pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite; Josh Smith, pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving; Loui Canchola, pastor of Cornerstone Church in McAllen; and Mike Eklund, pastor of First Baptist Church of McAllen.

SBTC President Byron McWilliams, pastor of First Baptist Church of Odessa, will bring his address at 8:10 p.m. on Monday.

Jimmy Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Forney, will preach the Convention Sermon at 11:05 a.m. on Tuesday.

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards will bring his report at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday.
Scheduled times of prayer related to the “Praying and Listening” theme are included in the program several times each day.

All Bible conference and annual meeting events will be in the American Bank Center, 1901 N. Shoreline Dr., in Corpus Christi.

2010 COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS

[Under the constitution, the following committees were appointed by the state convention president.]

REGISTRATION
Nat Simmons, chairman, Annaville Baptist Church, Corpus Christi; Larry Grimes, Yorktown Baptist Church, Corpus Christi; Josh McClary, First Baptist Church, Portland; Jo Sturm, River Hills Baptist Church, Robstown; Armando Torralva, Brighton Park Baptist Church, Corpus Christi.

RESOLUTIONS
Thomas White, chairman, Hallmark Baptist Church, Crowley; Sonny Hathaway, Northeast Houston Baptist Church, Humble; Andrew Hebert, MacArthur Blvd. Baptist Church, Irving; Ann Hettinger, First Baptist Church, Dallas; Philip Levant, Iglesia Bautista La Vid, Colleyville; David Lino, Faith Family Baptist Church, Kingwood. Kerri McCain, First Baptist Church, Katy; David Nugent, Hillcrest Baptist Church of Jasper.

TELLERS
Robert Simmons, chairman, Annaville Baptist Church, Corpus Christi; Bob Alderman, First Baptist Church, Rio Grande City; Steve Bain, The Believers’ Fellowship, Corpus Christi; Jesse Cole, Christ Point Church, Corpus; Gary Clements, Retama Park Baptist Church, Kingsville; Chris Deluna, Church of Grace, Robstown; Albert Lee Green, First Baptist Church, Rocksprings; Cliff Harden, First Baptist Church, LaCoste; Joe Mendoza, International Center of Joy, Rio Grande City; Rick Rice, First Baptist Church, Premont; Tommy Stogner, Oakville Baptist Church, Oakville; Jason Treadaway, Danbury Baptist Church, Danbury.

OTHER APPOINTMENTS

PARLIAMENTARIANS
Jim Guenther, Convention Legal Counsel; Terry Wright, pastor, First Baptist Church Vidor.

COMMITTEE ON COMMITTEES
Term Expiring 2013
Paul Boughan, First Baptist Church, Buna; Randy Kendrix, First Baptist Church, Odessa; Greg Pharris, First Baptist Church, Forney.

Some anti-bullying rhetoric is censorship

Several well-known incidents of people harassing others who later kill themselves has made “bullying” a hot topic. Maybe we are getting meaner as a culture but before we can even contemplate that question, the discussion is being turned to serve political agendas. Presto-change-o and an amazing number of things are being called bullying.

Of course it’s a tragedy when a tormented young person kills himself. It’s tragic for a family and a community, just as the suicide often intends. Add contemptible opportunism to tragic and you have the recent story of a 19-year-old Oklahoma man.

Zach Harrington has become a cause for the leftist agenda in our part of the country. He took his own life after attending a late-September city council meeting in Norman, Okla. Some reported that the things he heard during a four-hour debate “may have pushed him over the edge.”

The council meeting in question was a public discussion over whether Norman should let its freak flag fly by declaring October “Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender History Month.” The declaration praised the “achievements” of GLBT groups that “promote understanding, acceptance, and equality” for GLBT individuals. The college town is also said to benefit from the “many GLBT citizens who own businesses within the City.” Doubtless there are many other groups within Norman that share behavioral or niche commonalities, many of them larger and thus better subjects for a resolution. Many of those groups contain productive citizens who own businesses also. But there was an agenda in the choice of GLBT citizens. What they have in common is a selection of abnormal sexual behaviors. That and the intense desire to have their behavioral interests called normal by cities where it is decidedly not normal. That agenda was where several community members saw the need to speak up.

After reading many comments that blamed the debate for this young man’s death, I was curious regarding what was actually said. Video clips of testimony, chosen by a GLBT advocacy group, showed the comments of six citizens, the worst of the lot. But they were soft-spoken, respectful, affirming of diversity, and used not one single offensive term to describe those with whom they disagreed. One man did offer a mild rebuke at council members who couldn’t help mugging for the audience every time a conservative spoke against the resolution, but that was it. And these were the worst comments liberal news sites could find to quote. I should point out here that Mr. Harrington was in no way the focus of the resolution or of those who did not favor it. No one called him names or used his name as best I can tell. He was simply an observer. After “listening” to the testimony, the council did as I expect they came determined to do; they voted 7-1 to be silly and disrespectful of their constituents.
The conservatives who became the focus of the later discussion on bullying did disagree with the resolution, and their reasoning included concerns about what negative results might follow the council’s effort to normalize an anti-family behavior. That opposition, the very fact of that opposition, has been called harsh, harmful, slander, toxic, hateful, and of course, bigoted. If we are to follow the reasoning of some commentators, one I read was a Baptist pastor, the claim of some Normanites that the Bible was their guiding light in opposing the resolution contributed to the suicide of a 19-year-old man.
Let’s go back a little further to the discussion surrounding the building of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Sure, there were screamers; the hysterical you have with you always. But even those who made a very reasonable, “Of course we should not forbid the building of an otherwise legal mosque, but it should not, for sake of wisdom and courtesy, be built here” statement were said to engage in overblown, hateful rhetoric. And, as in the Norman event, the mere act of disagreeing is enough to force some to craft overblown rhetoric against overblown rhetoric.
There is real bullying, I know. Nearly everyone remembers that miserable kid from childhood who seemed to loom around every corner to taunt or abuse. It’s not fun and the fact that it’s common doesn’t make it normal. There have always been kids whose homes are dark dungeons of depravity. I think that is more common with each passing year. Experts on the subject say that incidents of violence and intimidation are on the rise, and that some of the bullies now are popular kids who just don’t know how to related to other people without dominating or objectifying them.
A home that has real monsters, or even mere morons, in charge will produce little monsters worse than their mentors. It is fitting that the caretakers of our children, in every context, should correct the cruel children of abusive, neglectful, and missing parents. None of us should stand by while the pack tortures a kid they’ve singled out. Most of us know by common sense the difference between a smart aleck comment and relentless torment. This is a real problem that becomes a casualty of efforts to co-opt the term in service of unrelated agendas.To whom do we trust a definition of the problem, though? Groups of people with common sense almost always become a committee or institution with none at all. What blunt instrument of regulation or “zero tolerance” policy will we implement to address the problem? The institutions that start with the safety of school kids as their concern end up suspending a boy who brings an inch-high, rubber gun-wielding toy soldier to school in his backpack. Dearborn, Mich. begins by trying to nurture peaceful communities and morphs the intent into handcuffing Christian students for having a quiet discussion of religion with a group of young Moslems. A country willing to accept peace at the price of chains and slavery forbids preachers from quoting Romans 1:27. Pardon me if I’m a little leery of letting petty bureaucrats find the difference between free speech and disturbing the peace. If a soft-spoken housewife can’t speak to a city council meeting without being accused of pushing a young man to suicide, the conversation is not in safe hands.

Maybe it’s an example of the undisciplined way our people often think. All the things that upset me are not part of the same trend. Not everyone who frustrates me is part of the same conspiracy. To think otherwise is to make every issue like a piece of legislation insiders call a “Christmas Tree.” The term refers to a bill that includes all manner of disparate riders and amendments. If our nation can’t talk about the increasing meanness of our culture and its children without every aspect of public discussion being thrown into the pot, we’ve lost the ability to speak English to one another.

This confusion seems intentional, cynical, and opportunistic. Pragmatic advocates of one thing or another glom onto every issue that gets any press with little regard for pertinence. It is detrimental to any serious discussion between people with clear and honest but specific disagreements. To call a very appropriate city council debate “bullying” or a disagreement regarding a provocative building project “overblown” dissipates our ability to productively talk about civil speech or a minimal level of tolerance.

A second problem with this melding of all issues into one is the inability to address important questions such as the nature of families or public morality. Those who take an unpopular viewpoint may be shouted down with any old epithet that’s handy. The easy answer is to censor by means legal or sentimental those who hold the more traditional position.

Instead of letting someone’s revisionist definition of civil conversation or gentle speech suck all the oxygen out of the room, let’s occasionally give due respect to the subject actually at hand. Maybe

Queridas Iglesias Hispanas de la Convención Bautista del Sur

Les doy un fuerte saludo en el precioso nombre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo. Ya se aproxima la fecha de nuestra Convención de los Bautistas del Sur de Texas (SBTC), que se llevará a cabo los días 15, 16 y 17 de noviembre en Corpus Christi. El domingo, día 14 de noviembre tendremos nuestra Sesión en Español a las 6:00 PM en el Henry Garrett Ballroom A del Centro de Convenciones American Bank Center, localizado en 1901 North Shoreline Boulevard, Corpus Christi.

El lema de nuestra sesión será: “Orando & Escuchando” La Escritura clave está basada en 2da Crónicas 7:14c que dice: “?oraren, y buscaren Mi rostro?” Tendremos dos mensajes de inspiración, el Rev. Joe Rivera de la Primera Iglesia Bautista de Grand Prairie nos estará compartiendo sobre el tema de: “Orando” y el Rev. Ramón Medina de la Champion Forest Baptist Church en Español de Houston nos exhortará en cuanto al tema: “Escuchando”; adicionalmente, el Grupo de Alabanza de la misma iglesia nos dirigirán en la Alabanza y Adoración.
Reciban adjunto el orden de programa.

Orad por nuestra convención anual y a la vez por el evento evangelístico llamado “Crossover” que ofreceremos el sábado 13 de noviembre con la participación del Grupo Team Impact a las 7:00 PM en el mismo Centro de Convenciones.

Convención Anual de SBTC
Domingo, 14 de noviembre de 2010,
a las 6:00 PM
American Bank Center
1901 North Shoreline Boulevard
Corpus Christi, Texas 78401

Lema: Orando y Escuchando
“?oran, y buscan mi rostro?” 2da Crónicas 7:14

Preside: Dr. Mike Gonzales
5:50 pm ? Preludio Grupo de Alabanza CFBC
6:00 pm ? Alabanzas Grupo de Alabanza CFBC
6:10 pm ? Bienvenida Dr. Mike Gonzales, SBTC
6:13 pm ? Lectura Bíblica y Oración
6:19 pm ? Música Especial Leticia de Luna
6:25 pm ? Sus Servidores en SBTC
Rev. Bruno Molina, Dr. Chad Vandiver,
Dr. Terry Coy
6:40 pm ? Alabanzas Grupo de Alabanza CFBC
6:50 pm ? Mensaje -Rev. Joe Rivera, Grand Prairie
“Orando”
7:20 pm ? Alabanzas Grupo de Alabanza CFBC
7:30 pm ? Sus Servidores en SBTC
Rev. David Alexander, Dr. Kyle Cox,
Rev. Scottie Stice
7:45 pm ? Testimonios de Iniciadores de Iglesias
Chris de Luna
7:55 pm ? Música Especial Leticia de Luna
8:05 pm ? Mensaje – Rev. Ramón Medina, Houston
“Escuchando”
8:35 pm ? Bendición – Marío Moreno, Austin
8:40 pm ? 9:30 pm – Compañerismo/Comida
Para Picar