Month: April 2011

Pray, Give to Disaster Relief

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5

SBTC Disaster Relief Volunteers are responding to the needs in Texas from the recent wildfires and the tornadoes that have recently disrupted the lives of people from Texas across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.
You can you assist in meeting these ministry needs and sharing the hope of Jesus by:

1.      Praying for the people whose lives have been impacted by these recent disasters

2.      Praying for the families of the more than 200 people who have lost their lives

3.      Praying for the first responders who have been involves in search and rescue, evacuations and the other emergency needs

4.      Praying for the emergency managers as response plans are developed and implemented

5.      Preparing to respond in Texas across the United States and around the world by being trained in Southern Baptist Disaster Response. Two trainings are left on May 21, Lakeview BC, Belton, and June 4 in Silsbee. Online registration:

6. Give financially to SBTC Disaster Relief. When you give you are supporting disaster relief efforts across Texas, the U.S. and worldwide as we share the HOPE of our Lord. Give online:

Tornado carries Ga. couple — and house — 140 feet


LAGRANGE, Ga. (BP)–The day after tornadoes swept through Troup County, Ga., Mike Hornsby, pastor of New Hope Church in LaGrange, and his wife Susan sorted through the rubble that once was their house. Family and friends came by to offer help and hugs. They each told the story of the violent storm again and again.

It never got any easier to tell.

Late on Wednesday night, April 27, the couple watched television and listened on a weather radio to reports of the coming storm. Susan Hornsby, an elementary school teacher, was the first one to head to the only room in the house without a window — the bathroom.

“My dog was going crazy. I figured he knew something that we didn't know,” she said.

Her husband continued to watch the weather reports on TV but joined his wife when he saw reports of a tornado coming toward them. It was one of more than 170 tornadoes that tore through the U.S. that day, killing at least 318 — the most since 1932 — and devastating the South. 

“The wind was really picking up, there was a loud noise that really did sound like a train,” Mike Hornsby said.

Susan Hornsby was lying in the bathtub, while her husband sat next to her, holding her hand. She told him to put a pillow on his head.

“I bent over and covered my head and that's when it happened,” he said. “It happened so fast.”

A tornado picked up the house, turned it completely around and dropped it nearly 140 feet from the foundation. When Mike Hornsby tried to sit up, he couldn't. A plank from a picket fence had flown from outside the house and pierced the wall where his head had been.

The couple felt the house move but didn't realize it had rotated. Once the wind settled down, they left the bathroom to check the damage.

“We were so disoriented. It was dark and raining and the house was facing a different direction. We couldn't tell where we were,” Mike Hornsby said.

The sunroom on the front of the house had disappeared. They still have no idea where it — or its pieces — landed. The carport was torn off and destroyed. Their two vehicles were smashed together and covered with debris. The dogs were fine.

“Our dachshund was in the bathroom with us. I was afraid we lost our boxer, but she got out and she's fine, too,” he said.

The morning after the storm, they picked through the debris, gathering what few pieces of their lives they could find. For Susan Hornsby, that meant only one thing.

“I have an anniversary ring and I didn't know where it was. Mike said we'd get another one, but it wasn't the same. I really wanted that one,” she said. Her son Chris crawled through the master bedroom rubble and found the ring under the bed.

“That's all I really wanted,” she said to friends, showing off the ring on her finger.

She and her husband have put the loss in perspective.

“I've always said there's a difference between a house and a home,” Mike Hornsby said. “I lost my house, but I've still got my home. I've still got my wife.”

The tornado outbreak left entire neighborhoods in ruins. At least 210 fatalities have been confirmed in Alabama alone.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were on the ground the day after the outbreak, helping find survivors and preparing to set up feeding units, shower units and to deploy chainsaw crews. Donations to disaster relief can be made to state conventions, or directly to the North American Mission Board's disaster relief fund, at, or by calling 1-866-407-NAMB (6262). A $10 donation can be made by texting “NAMBDR” to the number “40579.”


Sherri Brown is a special assignment reporter for The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, online at

China places 500 under house arrest, blocks Easter service


BEIJING (BP)–As millions of Christians worshipped freely around the world Easter morning, more than 500 members of an unregistered Beijing church were under house arrest by the Chinese government and prevented from gathering together at an outdoor site, while another 40 or so were detained after they illegally tried to worship at the location.

It was the third straight week that Shouwang Church defied the Chinese government's demands not to gather together. The clash has drawn worldwide attention, with more than 160 church members detained during the first week and about 50 arrested last week. Each week, church leaders have released statements saying they would rather obey God than the government. They are attempting to meet outdoors because the government has blocked all attempts by the church to rent or purchase a building.

Churches in China must register with the government, and those that don't are considered illegal. But registering brings restrictions on growth and evangelism — part of the reason the underground church movement has flourished in recent decades. Shouwang is one of the largest house churches in the country.

A BBC camera recorded the arrests the first week. A CNN camera crew tried to do the same on Easter but was turned back. (Watch the video: Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers were involved in the Easter arrests, which took place at a public plaza, CNN reported. Police and police cars were waiting at the plaza for the members to gather.

As part of the Easter crackdown, the government prevented all church staff, lay leaders and the entire church choir from leaving their homes. Senior pastor Jin Tianming — who has led the public defiance — was one of those under house arrest. The choir had been practicing “for months” for the service, the religious liberty group ChinaAid reported. Some church members were able to avoid government interference by gathering in smaller groups at restaurants. 

“One of the deacons returned to his home last Friday afternoon and the police came to ask him if he planned to attend the Easter Sunday service,” church member Kathy Lu told Voice of America News on Easter. “He said yes, so the police said from this moment, you cannot leave this house. I spoke to him an hour ago, and he was still not able to leave the house.”

Church members say they are being obedient to Christ. Some have lost their jobs and even been evicted from their homes because of their stance, with the government pressuring employees and landlords.

“The Bible tells us, as Christians, we must not give up meeting together; furthermore, as the church of Jesus Christ, we should not change our mode of Sunday worship just because someone or some entity decides that we may or may not use a particular gathering place,” the church said in a statement Easter week. “Our attitude before God should be the same as Daniel's, that is, despite of the pressure and difficulties our circumstance presents, we should behave as we normally would, coming before our God weekly to worship Him and offer up our thanksgiving, praises and petitions.”

If the church could rent or own its own indoor space, the confrontation could stop, the statement said. 

Observers say it's the hardest crackdown in a decade or more.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Chinese authorities chose to disrupt peaceful worshippers who were simply celebrating Easter today,” said ChinaAid's founder and president, Bob Fu. ChinaAid monitors religious liberty in the country. “By doing this, Chinese government again demonstrates its total disregard for Chinese citizens' basic religious freedom and freedom of assembly. We continue to call upon the free world to stand firm in solidarity with the persecuted faithful in China.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom had released a pre-Easter statement urging the Chinese “to allow all Easter services to proceed without harassment or detentions.” USCIRF is a bipartisan religious panel that reports to Congress on religious rights overseas. USCIRF reported that Wang Zu'on, head of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs, gave a speech in February calling on government officials to “renew efforts to 'guide' unregistered Protestants to worship in state-sanctioned churches and 'break' large churches like Shouwang into small groups.”

The Global Times, a newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party, ran an editorial April 11 arguing that “all Christians, as well as those of other faiths, are Chinese citizens first and foremost.”

“It is their obligation to observe discipline and abide by the law,” the editorial said.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said Christians around the world should be praying for Shouwang Church.

“How many of our American church members would disappear if officials went about threatening jobs and college placements?” he asked in a column on his website. “While the New Testament commands Christians to obey the righteous laws of a nation, believers cannot bend the knee to the regime as their primary allegiance. No Christian is 'first and foremost' a citizen of any earthy kingdom or nation. This is a despotic demand for the idolatrous worship of the state.”


Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.

SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers aid in W. Texas fires


STRAWN—Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief volunteers were continuing to serve those affected by wildfires in the western half of the state leading up to Good Friday.

A 10-person feeding unit was serving in Strawn—70 miles west of Fort Worth—coordinating with The Salvation Army to provide meals for firefighters and other emergency personnel as fires had ravaged almost 150,000 acres and hundreds of homes and buildings in that region.

The team spent their nights at First Baptist Church of Gordon after a firefighter who is a member of the church insisted they use the church for their berthing.

Meanwhile, an SBTC clean-up and recovery team was working with Texas Baptist Men to help clear debris from more than 20 burned homes around Fort Davis in far southwest Texas that caught fire the second week of April.

SBTC volunteers were being housed at Davis Mountain Baptist Church. Fort Davis is about 220 miles southeast of El Paso and 175 miles southwest of Midland on the front edge of the southern Rocky Mountains.

In four counties west of Fort Worth, the 150,000 acres that had burned by April 20 amounted to the equivalent of 200 square miles, news reports said. All told, wildfires had torched more than 1.5 million acres and nearly 250 homes this spring across Texas, the governor’s office reported.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on April 16 requested that President Obama issue a Major Disaster Declaration to make the state eligible for response and recovery assistance from the federal government.

In Strawn, Disaster Relief volunteers clad in their trademark yellow shirts teamed with the Salvation Army to feed weary firefighters working round the clock.

“Last night from the canteens you could see a line of fire a mile long. We were driving to the church and could see the fires off in the distance,” said Jodie Liford, the “blue hat” in charge of the SBTC team and a DR chaplain. “These firefighters are giving their all and we’re trying to give them double portions because they are burning so many calories. 

“They are wearing pounds of equipment in 100-degree weather. It’s very windy and smoky. They are working all night long. We have to feed them to keep their energy up. We can’t feed them enough. But God’s here and he’s working.” 
Winds on April 19 turned from south to north, creating tactical challenges for firefighters and fueling more fires.
During a phone interview, Liford noted that the Salvation Army tent had just blown over. 

“Even with conditions the way they are, everyone is working as a cohesive team. No ‘I’ out here,” said Liford, a member of Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall.

The team members arrived on April 18 and planned to stay for several more days before being relieved, if necessary, by other volunteers.

The team members working in Strawn came from Lake Pointe, Valley Creek Baptist Church in Leonard, Northside Baptist in Mesquite and First Baptist Melissa.

“I think we’ve had a great witness to the people we are serving, as well as with the guys at the incident command center in Strawn,” said Liford, stressing that emergency personnel eat and promptly leave because of the urgency involved. 

“You never know what God is doing in the people around you. You can be somewhere serving and then a year after that somebody gets saved because a seed was planted. Imagine all the things we will only get to see when we are on the other side in Heaven.” 

Jerry Bishop, the blue hat on the cleanup and recovery team serving in Fort Davis, said the work on the homes there was expected to be complete by Good Friday.

Bishop and some of his team arrived there on April 13 and stayed one week before being relieved by other DR volunteers. 

Over a week and a half of work there, 18 SBTC volunteers worked to clean up debris, often alongside homeowners, one of whom traveled from Canada.

“This was his vacation home. He helped us clean it yesterday,” Bishop said on April 19. “He lost everything there. Beautiful home up on top of the mountain.”

Among the group were three people trained in chaplaincy, which is valuable, Bishop said, when people are devastated by natural disasters.

“The people there were real nice,” he added. “We had a lot of help from day one. We had a lady help us who had done the census. During the assessment phase, she rode along and led the way. She knew every street, everyone’s name. That really helped us.”

In the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, rain and hail dampened the area on April 19 but left the region to the west without a drop, extending what weather observers say is one of the worst droughts on record in much of Texas. 

Of the state’s 254 counties, 198 were under burn bans as of April 18, according to the Texas Forest Service.

The neighboring states of Oklahoma and New Mexico are at near-record drought levels as well, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collection of drought data at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

LA INICIATIVA HISPANA AL DÍA: Una Iglesia Saludable y Creciente

Todos queremos que nuestra iglesia que sea saludable y creciente. Mateo 22:36-40 dice: “Maestro, ¿cuál es el gran mandamiento en la ley? Jesús le dijo: Amarás al Señor tu Dios con todo tu corazón, y con toda tu alma, y con toda tu mente. Este es el primero y grande mandamiento. Y el segundo es semejante: Amarás a tu prójimo como a ti mismo. De estos dos mandamientos depende toda la ley y los profetas.” Aquí vemos dos principios muy importantes que debemos ver en la vida de una iglesia saludable y creciente. Primero, el amar a nuestro Dios con todo nuestro corazón, alma y mente. Hay que poner a Dios en primer lugar de nuestras vidas. Si cada miembro en la iglesia de hoy tuviera este principio siempre en mente, la iglesia de hoy sería una iglesia fuerte. Hay que buscar a Dios cada día y hay que servir a Dios con toda nuestra vida. Y el segundo es de suma importancia porque, cuando decimos que amamos a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos, eso va hacer un gran impacto en nuestra comunidad. Las personas que viven en nuestras ciudades desean ver personas que puedan vivir lo que dicen. Hay que respetar y amar a las personas que no tienen a Cristo en sus corazones. 

Una iglesia saludable y creciente a la vez tiene ciertas características que van marcando su ministerio y vida. Vemos que en primer lugar hay una predicación Bíblica que se debe oír desde el púlpito cada semana. El pastor de la iglesia tiene el privilegio de predicar la palabra de Dios domingo tras domingo. Las iglesias saludables y crecientes tienen este ingrediente importante. Los mensajes deben ayudar e instruir a cada persona. Segunda de Timoteo 3:16-17 nos dice: “Toda la Escritura es inspirada por Dios, y útil para enseñar, para redargüir, para corregir, para instruir en justicia, a fin de que el hombre de Dios sea perfecto , enteramente preparado para toda buena obra.” El púlpito no es para compartir las últimas noticias del día o hablar de cosas insignificantes sino que el púlpito de una iglesia se usa para proclamar las verdades de Dios. 

Otra característica que señala que una iglesia es saludable y creciente es una adoración viva. La música tiene el propósito de preparar los corazones del pueblo de Dios. Las alabanzas deben ser Bíblicas en su contenido y deben preparar los corazones de los participantes para el mensaje de Dios.

También vemos que la evangelización, el discipulado, el compañerismo y el ser buenos mayordomos: con el tiempo, con los dones dados y con el dinero, ayudan a que una iglesia sea saludable y creciente. La vida de los primeros cristianos han ilustrando esto con gran excelencia, “Y perseverando unánimes cada día en el templo, y partiendo el pan en las casas, comían juntos con alegría y sencillez de corazón, alabando a Dios y teniendo favor con todo el pueblo. Y el Señor añadía cada día a la iglesia los que habían de ser salvos.” Hechos 2:46,47

Chinese gov’t continues crackdown on Christianity, arrests 47 from Beijing church


BEIJING (BP)–Fulfilling a promise to hold a worship service outside despite government demands, a large Beijing unregistered church — saying it would rather obey God than the Chinese government — saw 47 church members arrested Sunday in a public square, one week after 160 of its members were arrested by Chinese officials.

The standoff between the congregation, known as Shouwang Church, and the government has received worldwide attention and has brought to light the government's often-hidden crackdown on Christianity. Since the first round of arrests Sunday, April 10, some churches members have lost their jobs and been evicted after the government pressured employers and landlords, church leaders say. 

Churches in China must register with the government, but once they do, they often have to conform to restrictions on growth and evangelism. The only legally recognized Protestant churches belong to the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

Shouwang is only one of thousands of unregistered churches in China, but also one of the largest, with about 1,000 members. The unregistered churches often are called “house” churches because of their meeting location. Shouwang met in a building until 2009, when the Chinese government pressured the landlord to evict the congregation. Since then, the government has blocked attempts by the church to rent or purchase other property. 

Bob Fu, founder and president of ChinaAid, said Christians worldwide must speak up and pray for Shouwang. ChinaAid monitors religious freedom in China.

“God and his persecuted church will hold us accountable if we keep silent when we know clearly what we can and should do for our persecuted body of Christ,” Fu said. “We urge the Chinese government to exercise restraint and refrain from using violence that would further escalate the conflict with peaceful Shouwang worshippers who ask for nothing more than simply to exercise their right to religious freedom.”

The government didn't seem to care April 10 that it was arresting church members in the nation's capital in broad daylight, with media members watching. That pattern continued Sunday morning, April 17, although it did warn an Associated Press writer not to conduct interviews. Once church members started to sing hymns in the public square, they were arrested, ChinaAid reported. Most of them were freed by that evening, although some — particularly the ones who had participated in both services — were still in custody. Yet even before Sunday morning, police had tried to stop the meeting by detaining senior pastor Jin Tianming and placing the other church leaders under house arrest. Upwards of 1,000 police were involved in the first round of arrests April 10, but there was not an estimate yet of the number of police involved this time. Tianming was freed Sunday morning, April 17. 

In a letter to church members prior to the second outdoor service, Tianming had urged members to “step out, whatever the cost.” 

“This really and truly is a spiritual battle,” Tianming said. “The devil Satan has taken advantage of the authority God has granted to the national government to destroy God's church.”

The church's outdoor worship is “pleasing to the Lord,” he added. 

“We believe the church is Christ's church, and Christ is the head of the church,” he wrote, restating what the church had said days earlier. “The church ought to honor only our Lord Jehovah as God. There is no other god besides Him. Therefore, the church will never be controlled or manipulated by any external forces; she belongs only to our Lord. What this outdoor worship expressed was our uncompromising position with regard to (the practice of) our faith.”

The church also released a statement saying that it cannot join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement because it is an “official state institution” and “is not a church.” But it did say it would be glad to register with the government, which it tried to do in 2006 only to be denied. 

The government tolerated Shouwang's growth until the last few years. The final straw apparently took place in October when approximately 200 house church members, including some from Shouwang, tried to attend the Lausanne Congress on Global Evangelization in South Africa, The New York Times reported. Most were prevented from leaving the country, and Chinese officials were angry that the house churches had tried to represent China instead of allowing the Three-Self Patriotic Movement to do so.

The Chinese House Church Alliance released a statement April 16 urging “all peace-loving Christians worldwide” to pray for Shouwang Church, which it said was being persecuted. 

“Some Chinese leaders mistakenly believe that if churches grow, it will lead to religious forces becoming an influence on political power and become a source of instability in society,” the alliance said in a statement. “Therefore, based on this misunderstanding, the government has adopted a long-term policy of suppressing religion.”

The Chinese house church movement, the statement said, must obey God.

“Christianity as a religion and Christians as citizens and members of society are willing to submit to the supervision of earthly kings and rulers,” the statement from the alliance said. “But, if the kings and rulers want Christians to do what goes against Biblical principles, then the church and Christians in this instance will unhesitatingly choose to submit to God and not to kings and rulers. This is something that earthly kings and rulers often do not understand. The church was established by Jesus Christ through his blood and water and the Holy Spirit. Christians as sons of God, which is a spiritual identity, are not under the supervision of earthly kings and rulers but rather under the supervision of the holy Lord Jesus Christ.”


Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Read more about Shouwang Church at Read The New York Times' feature on the church at

Laredo evangelism event adds 727 salvation decisions to four-week effort


LAREDO—An evangelistic event featuring the

strength feats of Team Impact at the

Laredo Energy Arena capped a month-long outreach with 727 recorded salvation decisions added to nearly 300 in the previous four weeks.


The event on April 17 drew 4,800 people, most of whom were not “church people,” said Chuy Avila, missionary planter with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.


“Forty-eight-hundred people is not a lot in some of the bigger cities, but in Laredo this was God’s miracle,” Avila said.


Since spring break week in mid-March, volunteers from SBTC churches distributed door hangers containing the gospel message in Spanish and English on 39,000 of the 50,000 front doors in Laredo. Additionally, each household received an invitation to the April 17 Team Impact arena rally and information on a local Southern Baptist church.


During the event, Avila introduced four new church planters who will be launching five new works in Laredo and the nearby town of Rio Bravo.


“Everybody is going to receive at least 200 names of people who made professions of faith and they are going to follow up on them,” Avila said.


The week previous to the arena event, Team Impact, based in the Dallas area, visited dozens of schools, performing power demonstrations and presenting character talks.


“Those assemblies played a key role in gathering the kind of people who came to the event,” Avila said. “We got city people, not church people, who showed up. Most of that came as a result of the 39,000 homes that we visited and the school assemblies.”


Avila said volunteers are continuing their effort to contact the remaining 11,000 households in Laredo.

Southwestern begins first phase of new student housing construction


FORT WORTH—Construction begins this spring on new two- and three-bedroom student housing at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Trustees approved plans April 6 for the first phase to be completed by July 2012.


Positioned along Seminary Drive, where the main entrance to the campus sits, the seminary will construct 12 buildings in two phases. The first phase, which includes six buildings, will go up in a field adjacent to current student housing. The second phase will replace the oldest section of current student housing, built in 1958.


Particular attention is being given to accessibility for families with children as designs call for units to be built in U-shaped clusters that encourage community. A nearby playground and pavilion will provide a common area for parents to study while children enjoy a safe environment for recreation.


“Students are a priority for us,” said Hance Dilbeck, a Southwestern graduate and newly elected chairman of the board of trustees. “The purpose of the seminary is to train students, and housing helps us to meet a very important need. I’m grateful for the administration’s leadership in putting together a great plan that is going to be both pleasing to the students and fiscally responsible.


Dilbeck recalled living in seminary housing with his wife and firstborn child.


“I know how important it is in building community within the student body, establishing relationships with lifelong peers, and we’re excited to get this project underway as quickly as possible and to see our students and their families enjoying the housing,” he said.


Once completed, the 12 buildings will hold 216 two-bedroom units and 36 three-bedroom units, for a total of 252 units. This doubles the current total of three-bedroom housing options on campus and better provides for families with children. Plans also include a commons area to the west with a playground, pavilion and picnic area.


Trustees got a first-hand look at the new chapel set to open at the end of this year, enjoying a barbecue lunch provided by Manhattan Construction followed by tours led by crew members.


The 3,500-seat chapel includes a prayer tower, library and choir and orchestra rehearsal rooms. Plans include four prayer gardens designed with Christ’s commission to reach the ends of the earth with the gospel in Acts 1:8 in mind.


Once completed, the chapel will be large enough to house weekly chapel services for the entire student body. Patterson anticipates hosting this year's winter graduation in the facility as well as the annual performance of “The Messiah.”


Southwestern's new chapel will feature the secure, climate-controlled Ira Leeta Phillips Library for the housing of the documents and a pen made from a palm tree, which was found with the Dead Sea Scrolls and presumably used by the scribes who wrote them. Once completed, the pieces will be on display and potentially travel in national exhibits.


Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson shared his excitement that newly acquired Dead Sea Scrolls fragments will be on exhibit in June 2012 with tickets available later this year.


Patterson also reported on plans to offer the new bachelor of science degree in biblical studies as part of a new program to equip inmates for ministry while incarcerated. With applications from inmates across Texas, Patterson emphasized there will be no discrimination based on religion, anticipating the possibility of teaching students from a variety of religious backgrounds or no exposure to or belief in God at all.


The successful “Taking the Hill” evangelistic campaign involving students paired with professors resulted in over 100 professions of faith within a one-mile radius of the school. Patterson said the effort is transitioning to “No Soul Left Behind” as participants return to homes that were missed in the earlier outreach. Another 124 students traveled to churches in 40 states to conduct weeklong revivals this year.


A 2.6 percent increase for the 2011-2012 budget was adopted, amounting to $34,897,481. Trustees were told by institutional advancement committee chairman Steve James of concern that lower Cooperative Program contributions have resulted in a $200,000 annual loss of income for the seminary. A 1 percent increase in tuition is planned for the fall, amounting to $2 per semester hour, as well as a 4 percent increase in campus housing rent, remaining 25 percent below the cost of housing in the area.


The board approved increases in career employee benefits, shortened the doctor of ministry degree from a four-year to a three-year program with two year-long seminars of 12 hours each plus a one-year dissertation, approved a resolution affirming a traditional view of marriage and elected new officers.


Nine new faculty members were approved. Trustees named Thomas Kiker assistant professor of pastoral ministry; John Wilsey, assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at the Houston campus; Stephen Presley, assistant professor of biblical interpretation at the Houston campus; Charles Carpenter, associate professor of English at the College at Southwestern; James Johns, professor of biblical studies at the Houston campus; Patricia Nason, professor of foundations of education; Frank Catanzaro, associate professor of adult education; and Travis Dickinson, assistant professor philosophy and Christian apologetics at the College at Southwestern.


By way of a resolution trustees affirmed the definition of marriage as “uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime” as contained in the Baptist Faith and Message. The statement acknowledged the moral and legal “pressures upon the traditional view and practice of marriage” that frequently have the support of media and political figures, but recognized that Christians are called on to speak with clarity and definitiveness regarding biblical standards.


The board also passed routine policies relating to conflict of interest and board dismissal to keep the institution in compliance with practices recommended by accreditors. Other actions involved curriculum revisions to the school of music Ph.D., and a name change for the counseling center.


—Keith Collier and Rebecca Carter of Southwestern Seminary contributed to this report.

Sonogram bill passes hurdle, faces Senate vote


AUSTIN—A bill requiring sonograms for women seeking abortions in Texas passed another hurdle on April 12 and now awaits a state Senate vote. If passed there and once more in the House, Gov. Rick Perry has promised to sign it into law.

The Senate State Affairs Committee approved a compromise between similar House and Senate bills requiring physicians to perform a sonogram that allows the pregnant woman to view her unborn baby and to hear its heartbeat. It also requires doctors to describe the fetus’ size and features for the mother.

The Senate committee’s compromise, which retains the House title, HB 15, merged elements of the House-approved version with a Senate version and restored exemptions for cases of sexual assault, incest or fetal abnormality. It also waives the required 24-hour waiting period between the sonogram and an abortion for women who live in rural counties of fewer than 60,000 residents or those who reside beyond 100 miles of an abortion facility.

Sen. Dan Patrick, sponsor of the Senate bill, told the TEXAN that of abortions in the state, more than 93 percent of them were performed on residents of counties with populations exceeding 60,000.

Patrick acknowledged a few pro-life groups have criticized the bill as not stringent enough, but it has garnered support from Liberty Institute, Texas Right to Life and Eagle Forum. It is roundly opposed by abortion rights groups.

“At some point, you have to understand that you can pass a very good bill,” Patrick said. “On a scale of one-to-10 you can pass an ‘8.5’ or a ‘9’…. This is a case of a bill that is a ‘9’ on a scale of 10. But if there are some people who want a 10, then that makes it very difficult.”

The earlier House version, approved in March by a 103-42 margin, was sponsored by Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville. The full Senate will now vote on the compromise bill before the House considers the amended version.

Gov. Perry added the bill to a list of emergency items in the state House in January, which placed it on a fast-track for early consideration in the 82nd Texas Legislature.

Perry told a pro-life rally earlier this year, “When you consider the magnitude of that decision [to have an abortion], ensuring someone understands what's truly at stake seems a small step to take. 

“Those of us here know that when someone has all the information, the right choice, the only choice, life becomes clear.”

Criswell elects faculty, receives $1.2 million gift


DALLAS—Criswell College trustees promoted three professors to “elected faculty” status and heard reports of a $1.2 million gift to the school from an anonymous donor.
“It’s about ministry, about people, about students. This is an anonymous donor, but he’s given this gift through the W.A. Criswell Foundation,” Criswell President Jerry Johnson told trustees gathered April 8 at the Dallas school. “It’s a real shot in the arm.”
The funds became immediately available and will go toward scholarships, three additional faculty positions, distance education and student missions, Johnson added.
Trustees heard a much-improved financial report over the same period last year, with net spending under budget, year to date, by about $6,000.
“We are ahead in every category—every category—than where we were this time last year,” Johnson said in his board report.
Trustees also approved a motion allowing Johnson to explore land and fund-raising options for a potential move of the campus, now located at 4010 Gaston Ave., east of downtown Dallas.
At least three times during the meeting, trustees paused for prayer, giving thanks twice for financial blessings and once for God’s direction after approving the motion to explore a campus relocation.
Mike Rodgers, vice president for business and chief financial officer, told trustees the school has a year-to-date net income of $113,000 compared to a net loss of $1.2 million during the same period last year. Also, the school’s endowments are “up considerably” over last year, to about $11.7 million, largely due to a market rise, Rodgers said.
The school awarded $316,000 in scholarships and awards this academic year, “which I think is pretty significant for a college our size,” Rodgers added.
After hearing the financial report, trustee Calvin Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo., called on the board to offer a thanksgiving prayer, adding, “I think that God has demonstrated his hand on this school, and has done so financially and tangibly.”
Trustees elected to the faculty three professors who previously served under presidential appointment.
Daniel Streett was promoted to associate professor of Greek and New Testament, Kevin Warstler to associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament, and David Henderson to professor and Hope for the Heart Chair of Counseling.
Also, trustees granted to Alan Streett the title of W.A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching and professor of biblical exegesis, and a one-year sabbatical to Joseph Wooddell, associate professor of philosophy, to pursue additional post-graduate study. Wooddell would be available, if needed, for a limited teaching role, Johnson said.
Johnson told trustees of Wooddell’s book, “The Beauty of the Faith: Using Aesthetics for Christian Apologetics,” published this year by Wipf and Stock Publishers of Eugene, Ore.
Also, Daniel Streett became the first Southern Baptist published by prestigious European academic book house De Gruyter of Berlin, Germany, for “They Went Out From Us: The Identity of the Opponents in First John.”
The motion to authorize Johnson to “begin looking for alternate campus property and seek significant donor opportunities towards the development of a new campus” was approved after discussion of maintenance costs and space limitations at the current campus, the site of the former Gaston Avenue Baptist Church.
In his report to trustees, Johnson said the college must stay faithful to the evangelism and Bible training emphases of W.A. Criswell “but we must also be training other kinds of Christian leaders.”
“We need to continually think about equipping other kinds of Christian leaders, so some of these motions you are going to see today are about that kind of development,” Johnson said.
In discussing a potential campus relocation, trustee Ed Rawls said lack of a traditional campus setting is a hindrance to attracting some students.
Rawls, chair of the properties committee, told the board the school could potentially spend millions of dollars in upgrades, but only if it opts to stay put.
“We are to the point where we either spend some serious money [in upgrades] or begin the process of exploring the possibility of moving to another campus,” he said.
“We think the next step is to authorize our president to look at the possibility of land.”
Trustees also authorized the board’s executive committee to contract with Lincoln Properties of Dallas for housing up to 30 students at apartments about one mile from the campus. Student costs would be in the $325-$400 per month range, student services committee chairman John Mann said.