Month: November 2014

Southern Baptist hero to be recognized for years of selfless service

FORT WORTH–Jimmy Draper, president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources and a former Texas pastor, is the 2014 recipient of the Paul Pressler Award for Distinguished Denominational Service. During the annual Southern Baptists of Texas Convention meeting, Draper will be recognized for his years of ministry service among Southern Baptists.

The motion to honor Draper for his remarkable legacy of leadership—that has no end in sight—notes the SBTC itself would likely not exist if it were not for the Texas preacher’s faithfulness to the “inerrant of Word of God.”


To all who know him, Draper is regarded as first and foremost a pastor, whether leading one of the world’s largest religious publishing houses or filling the pulpit in a small country church on a Sunday morning.

Draper told Baptist Press after he preached his last sermon as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless in 1991, “I’ve always said being a pastor is not what I do but what I am.”

The SBTC motion to honor Draper calls him a “Southern Baptist hero.” His great affection for the denomination and years of service to Southern Baptists may be without equal. To the point, he has been called a “pastor to pastors” and has never been accused of obsessing on his reputation but instead focusing his life on being in the center of God’s will.

“I think anybody who knows me knows how much I love Southern Baptists, our churches and our convention,” Draper told messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2005 annual meeting in Nashville.

Bridge Builder

When Draper was tapped to head the Baptist Sunday School Board (later renamed LifeWay Christian Resources) in 1991, Bailey Stone, then-pastor of First Baptist Church of Odessa, called Draper a “bridge builder.”

Stone, at the time a youth evangelist, was preaching the night in 1950 when 14-year-old Draper committed his life to the gospel ministry. Draper served at LifeWay until 2001.

He is a man of great conviction and courage but also a ceaseless encourager.

In the midst of inarguably the most divisive years of the convention and in churches where disagreements at times threatened to overwhelm the ministry of Good News, Draper remained centered on testifying to God’s grace and enduring love. He was intent on doing everything to and for God’s glory.

In a note to his oldest child, Randy, on his 10th birthday, the young pastor wrote, in part:

“Represent Christ in everything you do. When you are playing ball, sitting in church, listening in school, doing chores around the house or playing with Bailey and Terri [his siblings] you are showing to everyone what a Christian is like! Do it right, Randy. Always tell the truth. Always be polite. Always play fair. Always have a smile. Always consider the other person. Never return spite for spite. Never be ugly to someone just because they have been ugly to you!”


“God’s minister is a servant, and don’t you ever forget [it],” Draper told students at a 2000 conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ministers “are not some superstar, some prima donna cast in some organization as the hotshot leader of that organization. You are the servant of God’s people.”

Not surprisingly Draper may be known more by what he does privately than his public service; his practice to pen cards and make calls to those who are hurting and need a pastoral touch is well-known.


Additionally, Draper may have been the first to recognize that younger SBC pastors were being effectively shut out from convention business. In 2004, he challenged convention leaders and seasoned pastors to make the inclusion of younger leaders a priority, and he launched an initiative to connect with these young men, going so far as to travel around the country to hear from them.

In a commentary published in Baptist Press at the time, Draper lamented: “We have failed the younger generation by not creating a dynamic atmosphere and showing them the relevancy of being Southern Baptist. We’ve not taught people in our churches how the SBC and its entities work and relate to one another. We battle today over trivial issues like forms of worship, styles of leadership and approaches to ministry.”

In selecting Draper for the honor, the SBTC award committee noted Christian statesmanship has been the hallmark of his service.

He was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1982, serving two terms in the midst of the denomination’s “conservative resurgence.” Draper didn’t shrink back from the struggle to bring the convention back to the Bible, but he did it God’s way–with graciousness and respect toward all.

Draper’s Lone Star roots run deep. When he stepped down as president of LifeWay, he made it clear he and his wife, Carol Ann, were returning to Texas to continue serving God there.

The Arkansas native pastored six churches in Texas, including First Baptist Church of Euless for 16 years, as well as Red Bridge Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., and First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Okla. Prior to being called to Euless, he served as associate pastor to W.A. Criswell at First Baptist Church of Dallas. He most recently was the interim president at Criswell College, also in Dallas.

Draper will be presented with the Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award at the SBTC annual meeting during the Executive Board Report, which begins at 9:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

The award is named for Paul Pressler, a former Texas Court of Appeals judge, who played a key role in the SBC’s conservative resurgence. O.S. Hawkins, president and chief executive officer of Guidestone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, received the award in 2013.

Jacksonville College opens SBTC-funded dorm

JACKSONVILLE – Administrators, trustees, faculty and students at Jacksonville College in Jacksonville, Texas, celebrated the opening of their new SBTC Dorm, Oct. 29. The dormitory’s name is in honor of the $300,000 gift from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention to build the student housing, which represented approximately 75 percent of the total construction costs.

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards was on hand for the building dedication, offering a dedicatory prayer and participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Richards also delivered the school’s 2014 Manley Distinguished Lecture Series on the topic of the book of Revelation.

According to Jacksonville College Director of Public Relations David Heflin, “The Department of Education’s College Affordability lists rank Jacksonville College as the most affordable private, nonprofit two-year college in Texas and the second-most affordable in the nation.”

The SBTC’s Executive Board renewed its ministry affiliation with Jacksonville College in July, and the agreement runs through 2019. The SBTC also has affiliations with Criswell College in Dallas and Texas Baptist Home for Children in Waxahachie.

I Stand Sunday rally draws more than 6,000 in Houston

HOUSTON – As pastors embroiled in a lawsuit against the city rallied thousands Sunday to Grace Community Church for the cause of religious liberty and with chants of “Let the people vote,” their cohorts in the battle were also crying out for the church to repent for its retreat from the public square and its role as the public conscience.

Part revival meeting, part civics lesson, the I Stand Sunday rally Nov. 2 drew more than 6,000 people to the Houston church of one of five pastors subpoenaed for their role in a legal fight against city hall. An additional 300 churches and 765 homes were logged into the live stream webcast. Interwoven throughout the evening was the message of religious liberty, the church’s culpability for the current cultural malaise, and the need for repentance.

“We are in this place in America today not because of the mayor of Houston. It is not because of what she did. It is because of what so many people in our churches have failed to do,” Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas told the audience.

The lack of civic participation on the part of Christians has resulted in the cultural conflicts arising throughout the nation with Houston as a flashpoint in the national clash between religious liberties and government policies.

And though Mayor Annise Parker directed City Attorney Dave Feldman last week to withdraw subpoenas against five pastors, the mayor’s critics called the court order an act of political intimidation that could not be undone with the removal of the subpoenas. For the pastors, and more than a dozen speakers gathered on their behalf, the primary issue remained—the city administration’s unauthorized dismissal of thousands of signatures on a referendum that thwarted the resident’s right to vote on the issue.

The ordinance that sparked the legal battle was passed by Houston’s city council in May and gives civil rights designation to individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Over 50,000 signatures were gathered on a referendum to put the ordinance to a vote in Houston. And though enough signatures were verified by City Secretary Anna Russell to put the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, Feldman disqualified thousands of pages of signatures for reasons not prescribed in the city charter.

The coalition sued the city to have the signatures certified and the ordinance put to a vote by the city’s residents. As part of their defense, the city subpoenaed five pastors calling for their sermons, speeches and other communications with their church members.

“It’s not about the issue of transgender rights. It’s about the fundamental issue: Do all citizens have equal rights? And those rights include the right to vote,” Huckabee said in a press conference prior to the rally.

The issue is all the more profound for three of the five subpoenaed pastors. As immigrants or the child of immigrants to America they spoke passionately about fleeing the abuses of communism and enjoying religious and civil liberties as Americans.

Khanh Huynh, senior pastor of Vietnamese Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church, was among the two million “boat people” refugees seeking asylum in America in the 1970s.

“The freedom of speech and freedom of religion were among the first to be lost in Vietnam. And now I’m facing the same marching boots of tyranny right here where I live,” Huynh told the audience.

Magda Hermida, founder of Magda Hermida Ministries told how she and her husband left Fidel Castro’s Cuba almost 50 years ago where they lived under the scrutiny of a police state.

“We never thought we would see what is happening—that is now happening in this country—here in Houston, in our beloved America,” she said.

The son of South American emigrants, Hernan Castano, pastor of Iglesia Rios de Aceite, said pastors should be able to speak about the issues of society from a biblical perspective without being afraid “to be condemned, to be subpoenaed, or to be intimidated.”

“I stand here today so that no government will abuse the power that people gave it to come against the church,” Castano said to a standing ovation.

There were many such ovations during the rally.

The lead sponsor of I Stand Sunday, the Family Research Council, demonstrated through videos and speakers the growing conflict between Christians living out and speaking of their faith in the public square and government policies and social pressures that seek to silence them. The images were stark, but the church is not held blameless for the state of affairs.

“In this country that means we have not just the right to vote but, if we love God, we have a responsibility to vote and to be the salt and the light for our nation. And we have failed,” Huckabee said.

Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council and one of the subpoenaed pastors, noted that just over 10 percent of eligible Houston residents voted in the 2013 mayoral election. Less than a month after Parker’s re-election, she began development of the Equal Rights Ordinance.

“We cannot blame the people who do not love God,” Huckabee said. “We’d better look inwardly and say, ‘It’s because we’ve told our people that they could effectively be wonderful Christians just going to church and reading their Bibles and praying, and voting wasn’t that important.”

Prominent Southern Baptist pastors drove that message home calling on Christians to repent of their apathy and to recognize that cultural change does not happen at the ballot box but in the hearts of those who call on Christ in faith.

Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, said, “This gathering will be construed by a lot of people as a political gathering [saying], ‘They were here mad and militant and violent,’ but we are here as worshippers of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

Young added that Christians pray for those in leadership, including Parker.

Drawing his comments from Rev. 3:22, SBC President Ronnie Floyd asked what the Spirit of God is saying to the church of America.

He concluded, “It is time for the church in America to look at its own sin, to repent of our own apathy. … It is time for us to wake up from our slumber. It is time for us to understand that our greatest problem is not in the White House, nor is it in the State House; but it is in the church house of Jesus Christ. We must get our lives right with the Lord.”

And with that he called on the audience to take a posture of prayer, leading them in a prayer of repentance and revival “to do only what God can do.”

“That our heartbeat would not be simply to see a culture changed but to see millions and millions and millions of lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because that is our hope.”

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of Duck Dynasty fame, and his son Pastor Alan Robertson; brothers David and Jason Benham; Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erik Stanley; Pastor Willie Davis, a plaintiff in the lawsuit against Parker; FOX News commentator Todd Starnes; and Vision America President Rick Scarborough spoke of the challenges Christians face in an increasingly secular society but told them to stand strong.

Tony Perkins, president Family Research Council, said just one person contending for the faith in the face of political and societal scorn can encourage others to do the same.

What to do with the political opposition that seeks to silence and even punish Christian voices?

“We need to lift up the word of God with one hand and the love of God with the other,” Floyd said. “And we need to stand unwaveringly, unapologetically, but always compassionately with those who choose to disagree.”