Month: October 2021

Del Rio church combines creativity and Christ

DEL RIO—Jim Wilson and his wife, Marsha, in 2005 told their three daughters they all were going to be in ministry when they moved from North Carolina to start a church on the Texas/Mexico border.

He was musical. She was artistic. Their 10-year-old daughter Bethany had already earned a black belt in Taekwondo, a Korean martial art whose name means “the right way of using all parts of the body to stop fights and help to build a better and more peaceful world,” according to the Olympic website teamusa.com. Jim Wilson also was a black belt.

“We started inviting people to attend Taekwondo classes,” Wilson told the TEXAN. “The church came out of those classes, each of which had a Bible component attached. It was an outreach that brought people in, led them to the Lord and brought them to the church.

“That’s how it started,” Wilson continued. “We just kept developing the idea of using the gifts God gave us to reach others, always incorporating the Bible into whatever we did.”

Taekwondo soon led to Esperanza Community Church. Plan A was to have two services, in English and Spanish, but those attending said they wanted English-only, to help adults learn what their offspring were learning in school. Ministries started, expanded and the church grew. That led to a combining of forces in 2018 with First Baptist Church of Del Rio and its pastor, Jesse Rodriguez.

The pastors pray for their community and church, which emphasizes engagement through both creative and athletic ministries.

“Our desire is to lead people to Christ,” Wilson said. “Many of our programs have lost people in them, and those who know Christ we want to continue discipling. We want the people we reach to know everything we do, we do to the glory of God.

“Creativity is something God gave us,” the pastor continued. “Because a lot of folks misused it, many churches set it aside. We use it to bring glory to God.”

The border town two-church merger invigorated all its members, Wilson said, which led to a multiplication of ministries and effectiveness. Most recently, that led to the opening of church dorms originally designed for mission teams on their way to Mexico, to be used by out-of-town law enforcement onsite to manage the unprecedented influx of thousands of illegal immigrants, many from Haiti.

The church now known as Esperanza First Del Rio more typically focuses on its community, the 35,000 residents of Del Rio plus illegal migrants passing through, as well as the growing number watching its services online, which adds to the 250 actively engaged members physically attending Sunday morning worship.

Reclaiming the arts: a family affair

For the Wilson family, creative church engagement is a must.

Marsha Wilson oversees the Reclaiming the Arts umbrella ministry that involves music, dance and Taekwondo. She also helps write scripts and sews costumes for the church’s annual “Christmas with a Capital C” program.

The couple’s daughters left home to further their education. They’re all now back.

Bethany helps her dad lead Taekwondo for children as young as three. Bethany, with a degree in music composition, also serves as the worship assistant and leads the team musically.

Ashley, with a certificate in early childhood development, oversees the many volunteers involved with Heritage Ministries, which covers every aspect of children’s ministries from birth through the fifth grade.

Rebekah, who trained in New York City, leads the church’s dance ministry component, which includes ballet, tap, jazz, swing and other forms of dance.

“The Lord just brought everything together,” Jim Wilson said. “As the Lord developed our daughters, he brought them back here. He gave us the property and space and music and dance, but without having solid, grounded Christian artists to help, we would not be able to do it properly.

“Our mission with Reclaiming the Arts is to provide a godly environment for learning and practicing the arts while promoting biblical virtues,” the pastor continued. “Our vision is to be a center for impacting the border region and beyond with the hope of Christ.”

The church emphasizes ministry through various sports and activites such as archery, dance, fitness, even boxing. Photo Submitted

Multiple ministries

The list of Esperanza First’s regular activities—each inspired by talented members like the Wilsons—could eclipse that of a church four times its size. Each ministry involves an outreach to the community, including archery, Awanas and homeschool enrichment. The Contenders Boxing Club for middle school and high school students is led by Pastor Jesse Rodriguez. The church offers summer camps for dance and for Taekwondo.

Other ministries include providing food, showers and laundry service on Fridays—or upon request—for the homeless. In partnership with the city’s 40 or so churches, Esperanza First also assists in ministry to illegal immigrants in cooperation with the city.

In addition, Del Rio authorities call Esperanza First when a family has been quarantined because of COVID. Members then take groceries to those isolated.

Small groups are a mainstay of adult ministries at Esperanza First Del Rio, where “doing life together” helps build friendships, discipleship and accountability. Adults also have fitness, kickboxing and painting groups, as leaders with those skills have joined the congregation.

In addition to its support of missions through the Cooperative Program, Esperanza First Del Rio has ministered in Uganda, Philippines, East Asia and Mexico. The church helps support a family serving through CRU at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. They also provide support for NAMB church plants in El Paso, Fort Worth and British Columbia.

“We have multiplied beyond what we each had,” said Wilson, referring to the merger. “We have a lot of new people neither congregation had before. They’re growing in their faith, and they’re serving. To God be the glory.”

Time Marches On

They say, “time flies when you’re having fun.” While I am sure this is somewhat of a true statement, the reality is that in life, time continuously marches on.

Recently I was on a weekend trip to preach at an SBTC church. I had two of my sons with me—one age 17 and the other, 14. We went to a college football game the night before I preached. As we sat in the stadium, my heart was overcome with emotion. I wondered where time had gone. It seemed like yesterday these boys were crawling around on the floor, and now they are beginning the journey of becoming young men. The truth is time marches on. 

A few weeks ago, I watched some video clips from the first annual meeting of the SBTC. I was a senior in high school at the time. It was November 1998, with a packed house at Woodforest Baptist Church in Houston. The atmosphere was electric, and people were excited about this new convention being formed to stand firmly on the inerrancy of Scripture and work closely with the Southern Baptist Convention at large to reach Texas and impact the world. That day, the SBTC began its incredible ministry that God has continued to bless. For the last 23 years, time has been marching on. 

Through the cooperation of SBTC churches, Dr. Jim Richards’ superb leadership, and the team he assembled through the years, the SBTC has grown from 120 churches to nearly 2,700. As time marched on, God poured out his blessings upon the convention. We have been and remain a network of churches focused on missions and evangelism, cooperating within the parameters of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. This has served us well. We have seen great ministry accomplished across Texas together, all while time marches on. 

I remember the moment the search team invited me to be presented as the next executive director of the SBTC. My mind and heart were immediately overwhelmed with excitement and gratefulness. I stood in that room humbled and honored to be considered to follow Dr. Richards. However, in the midst of all the emotions, I also felt a sense of resolve. I was, and am today, resolved to see us move the ball forward together, resolved to see us accelerate the gospel’s impact across Texas at an expedited rate. I am resolved to see us plant more churches than we ever have before. I am resolved to see us move the needle on reaching the lost in our state. I believe that together, we will see great days ahead.

Let us lock arms to reach Texas and impact the world. Let us be found faithful like those who started the SBTC in 1998 because soon we will all look up and realize, time is marching on.

Nathan Lorick, Executive Director Tweet

The people who gathered in 1998 with a vision for the SBTC served so faithfully. Their vision and hope became a reality that has lasted 23 years. Their convictions about the Word of God and their investment of time, participation and resources served as the catalyst to get us to this place today.

As great as the last 23 years have been, we are still faced with the reality that time continues to march on. Today, we continue to stand for those foundational reasons we started and that have enabled us to grow. We must hold fast to our core values and yet begin to develop new approaches and strategies to serve the next generation of churches, pastors and leaders. The core group in 1998 had no idea that their next executive director was in high school when they formed. Yet they knew there needed to be a convention that would not compromise the Word of God for any reason. I am so grateful they did.

As we move toward the future, let us walk together with a renewed sense of passion and unity. Let us lock arms to reach Texas and impact the world. Let us be found faithful like those who started the SBTC in 1998 because soon we will all look up and realize, time is marching on. I love you and am grateful for you! 

Handling Scripture

Everyone who reads the Bible becomes, consciously or not, an interpreter of Scripture. Even if Bible readers have never heard the word “hermeneutics” (the art and science of biblical interpretation), they are practicing it with every morning devotion.

We read the words and know what they say, even while our minds are quietly assessing what those words mean. It’s our nature to wonder and explore and hunger for understanding. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”

If we love the Bible, we will want to understand it so we can live by it and teach it to others. Fortunately, there are principles to guide us as we “search things out.” Allow me to share a few.

INSPIRATION

The starting point of interpretation for most of us is a bedrock conviction that God has spoken in Scripture. Paul wrote to Timothy to remind him of the following: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). 

When we are doing the work of interpretation, we are handling the Word of God. The Bible is more than ancient literature. We approach Scripture with the confidence that “Where the Bible speaks, God speaks.”

INERRANCY

Closely related to the doctrine of inspiration is the doctrine of inerrancy. In other words, not only has God spoken, he has spoken truthfully. The interpreter can be assured that the Bible is “truth without any mixture of error.” Why is this important? Obviously, volumes could be and have been written on this subject. But for our purposes, permit me to suggest a practical reason why inerrancy matters. We put our faith in Christ based on what Scripture teaches about his death and resurrection (and everything else said about him). Paul, who saw the ascended Lord, reminds us the gospel he preached wasn’t based on his testimony alone, but rather upon the objective truth of the Bible.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

So, inerrancy matters for the most fundamental of reasons: the message we believe originates from the written Word of God. Inerrancy assures us we can trust the grammatical accuracy and historical reliability of the biblical text.

So, inerrancy matters for the most fundamental of reasons: The message we believe originates from the written Word of God. Inerrancy assures us we can trust the grammatical accuracy and historical reliability of the biblical text.

WORDS MATTER

Flowing out of the doctrine of inerrancy is the importance of the words of Scripture themselves. God has revealed himself in history through what he has done and through what he has said. Words matter. Therefore, the interpreter should become extremely familiar with the words of Scripture. Invest in a Bible dictionary, do word studies, find online resources. Use everything at your disposal to become as proficient as possible in the words of the Bible.

Much more could be said about the significance of interpreting Scripture, but I will leave you with this thought. Every time you read the Bible, you are interpreting it. God has already instructed us to do it right.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15).

Great Commission priority

There are a lot of things Baptist state conventions can do. The SBTC’s sister conventions are, with one exception, 50 to 200 years older. That age, growing up through the years of dynamic expansion by Southern Baptists, led to a broadening of ministry scope into a stable of fine institutions.

This growth made sense when a Baptist convention was providing a service that did not exist as the nation or state developed. The difficulty is unwinding those entanglements as the time comes when it’s not so crucial that Baptists turn from other priorities to do it.

It’s hard to stop doing something that has been around long enough to have a constituency.

It is also difficult to diligently oversee institutions, particularly colleges and universities, that tend to drift in the cultural wind. It can be done but it is difficult and a never-ending stewardship. For these reasons—the existence of effective institutions and the costs associated with keeping an institution—the SBTC determined early that it would not control institutions, seeking to instead lend strength to like-minded institutions already up and running.

A second challenge for parachurch ministries that follows with age and success is the increase of diverse ministries and the staff experts to run them. If you have the money, you’ll spend it on good things. But this hand-to-mouth growth is one reason some Baptist parachurch ministries are downsizing in our day.

When the SBTC was founded, a couple of Baptist state conventions had more than 200 fulltime staff members. The SBTC’s founders had watched their former state convention become the biggest, a top-down parachurch that had a staff member for nearly everything. For that reason, they determined that the new convention’s staff would be fewer, generalist in duties and always looking up to the churches. The SBTC’s high percentage of Cooperative Program allocation to the Southern Baptist Convention has also ensured that the state convention does not become an end rather than a means.

These lessons learned by the SBTC founding generation allowed the new convention to prioritize missions and evangelism, in Texas and beyond.

These lessons learned by the SBTC founding generation allowed the new convention to prioritize missions and evangelism, in Texas and beyond. This ministry remains the first in budgeting and staffing within the SBTC. That means there are some things we do to a lesser degree. We have a strict limit on the percentage of our budget used to fund institutions, for example. The other Texas convention had allocated around half of its instate budget to institutional support at the time of our founding. That limited their spending on church planting and worldwide missions. We love our cooperating institutions and support them in a variety of ways. But we don’t own them, and we don’t have an open-ended relationship with them. And we will not maintain a relationship with any institution anywhere that will not thoroughly operate within our statement of faith.

Our work in public policy is another place where we intentionally walk a different path than some other conventions. At one point our budget for this work was about 10 percent what the other Texas convention budgeted for this work. This was thoughtfully done to reflect our philosophy of helping the churches do what they set out to do, not do it all or tell them what to do. Our founders left us without the ability to become top down in this work. It’s important but it’s not the priority.

But beyond the priority placed on our missions and evangelism ministries is the fact that such work is high on the agenda for all SBTC ministries. Revitalization work, church health resources, even our interim and church transition assistance are designed to help churches pursue the lost in all places. Missions is baked into every plan we make. That priority came to us from the churches that founded our convention, and it has been reinforced by over 2,500 churches that have affiliated since 1998.

As we describe our core values, we say a commitment to biblical authority is why we do what we do, missions is what we do and our cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention is how we do what we do. Missions is our payload, and it is one place where we are unapologetically prophetic when we speak to our churches. Our series of church features in each issue of the
TEXAN is intended to show you ways that diverse churches fund and do missions within their horizons and beyond them. Our evangelism conference is two days of missionary exhortation. You also won’t likely hear a sermon at the annual meeting that is not focused on the priority of the Great Commission.

I am not saying that our sister state conventions do not share this priority; they do in intent and increasingly in their structure and methodology. This is a day in which state convention ministry is going through a bit of a renewal of focus in many places. Churches in all our states should encourage this where they see it happening and support it in all ways, especially when they have groused about the lack of Great Commission vitality in former days. These conventions are doing the hard work of rebuilding something well underway. The SBTC has been blessed to have started in this place and maintained this priority from the beginning. It’s made all the difference.

This is column three of four describing the denominational virtues of the SBTC.
Next month: Biblical Fidelity.

New digital toolkit to help churches elevate prayer

NASHVILLE (BP) – In accordance with the SBC Executive Committee’s new prayer ministry assignment given by SBC messengers, a new technology toolkit devoted to elevating prayer through the convention has been launched today.

Titled, “Pastor’s Prayer Toolkit,” the new resource allows churches to be assigned a phone number where they will receive updates and things to pray for each day.

Once churches have been assigned a phone number, they have the option to invite church members to text the phone number to be added to the group to receive the updates and prayer requests. The toolkit also allows church members that join a specific group to offer updates and prayer requests of their own.

The Executive Committee’s emphasis on prayer ministry comes in response to messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting voting to a seventh ministry assignment to the EC calling for it to serve churches through elevating the ministry of prayer.

Specifically, the EC is tasked to, “Provide strategic leadership to lift up and promote coordinated prayer for spiritual awakening, ministry effectiveness, and the completion of the Great Commission.”

The EC partnered with and commissioned Gloo, a company focused on serving churches through technology, to create the digital resource.

Ronnie Floyd, Executive Committee president and CEO, said the toolkit will be extremely useful for churches wanting to increase an emphasis on prayer.

“The assignment given to us by the 2021 SBC messengers charges us to elevate the ministry of prayer in our churches, and this release today helps us do this for any pastor or church that wants the assistance,” Floyd said. “It is practical and helpful in every way.

“It is user-friendly, easy to understand in the way we have designed it, and overall, it will inspire people with tangible actions on how to elevate prayer in your church. I pastored churches for years, have led prayer gatherings for churches and for conventions with thousands in attendance. I understand what will move pastors and inspire them to elevate prayer in their church. This resource will help churches.”

Floyd added that the power of prayer is the key to unlocking a move of God throughout the convention.

“Living the Christian life and doing church in today’s world is impossible to do without the power of the Holy Spirit,” Floyd said. “Effective prayer occurs when we pray and when churches pray standing upon the authority of what God says in His Word and we talk to God about our need for Him and His power to be upon us. When churches pray, God moves His people to have a greater heart for Him and this leads to a greater spiritual power occurring in and through the churches.

“Churches need to be houses of prayer for the nations and be places where people really pray and talk to God individually and together.”

Steele Billings, Gloo vice president, said the toolkit will be a much needed practical resource to call church members to pray.

“The most practical way to call people to pray is through communication,” Billings said. “Text messaging is catalytic because it’s a very simple call to action. Text messages are the most effective and simple form of communication today, which is why it is really the perfect thing to be using to call people to pray. They can then be led by the Holy Spirit to feel the conviction to take the action they see in your message.”

He said the toolkit was created through Gloo’s text-messaging and communication tool named “Thryve,” and is a much more effective means of communication than email since 98 percent of all SMS text messages are opened.

Although the toolkit provides a variety of different resources and prayer strategies for churches, Billings said the resource is designed to be personalized for each church using the resource.

Once signed up with a phone number, churches can choose a template with which to get started, but can immediately begin editing and designing their own messaging plan according to their prayer needs.

Billings said he is passionate about trying to help churches teach their people to pray, because of his own personal experience growing up in church but struggling with prayer.

He said one of the goals of the toolkit is to provide churches with a digital resource that can help them join in prayer together, and also learn about how prayer positively influences their relationship with God.

Billings said Christians often say they don’t know how to pray. “They may feel inadequate many times because they don’t feel like they can do it correctly. Yet all throughout Scripture God tells us “speak to me, talk to me, cry out to me. … He invites us into a prayer relationship with Him regularly. This resource can help people gain heightened sense of awareness to the things God wants to join them in. We need to call our people to pray more, and the technology exists for us to be able to call our people to pray daily.”

Churches can sign up to use the toolkit by clicking “launch” at this link.

Love, safety are priorities when ministering to young widows

Becoming a widow at 33 was never on my to-do list. The journey was harder and darker than I ever could have expected. My walk with Christ was strong, but without my church being the hands and feet of Jesus, lifting me up when I couldn’t lift myself, I don’t know where I would be.

Ministering to young widows can be a difficult journey. It can be hard to know what to do or how to reach out. Young widows’ needs can be overwhelming. Here are just a few tips to pray and think through if you know a young widow:

Remembrance

To be remembered is one of the most meaningful things, whether in the early days of grief or years down the road. This includes the anniversary of the hard days, the happy days, doing special things for holidays and remembering these women every single day and letting them know it.

Committed

Grief is a long road. Widows need constant support and commitment they can depend on. With all the changes going on in their lives, if the church can be the one physical constant, it can provide the stability necessary for healing.

Safe

Church should be a safe place, safe physically and emotionally. Young widows need the church but so often no longer know where they belong. Going to a mostly marrieds small group was the only place I felt comfortable. As I stepped foot into a house for small group, the tears flooded my eyes. One of the small group leader’s wives took me by the hand, walked me to a side room, pulled out a box of tissues and let me cry. It was a safe place. Even though I had made huge steps to be there all alone, I stayed because of their response. It was this small group that I leaned on in the days to come.

Physical Needs

The needs can be great, and young widows are mostly just trying to survive. If a church can come alongside and meet as many physical needs as they possibly can, such as mowing the lawn and bringing meals, that will free the widow mentally, emotionally and physically to take care of other things that no one else can do for her.

Loved

Being loved has many shapes and faces. There are many ways to reach out and love on young widows and their families, and each way shows God’s special care and love.

God will use his church to care for widows; the church just needs to seek his plan for their care. I’ve heard widows share countless stories of how God used people to meet every single need from the big to the small—all orchestrated in ways only he can do.

Spring Rutland is a women’s ministry representative for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

EC meets to address legal, personnel issues

NASHVILLE (BP) – Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee met in a closed session on Thursday (Oct. 28). It was the first meeting for the group since the resignations of key EC staff members and a letter from long-time attorneys, Guenther, Jordan & Price, withdrawing from providing legal counsel for the group.

EC Chairman Rolland Slade said in a statement the group discussed issues related to personnel, legal counsel and committee leadership.

While Guenther, Jordan & Price is withdrawing from longterm counsel, an agreement has been secured for the firm to provide counsel in the interim. “Regarding legal representation, the EC has finalized a limited scope arrangement with Guenther, Jordan, and Price while we conduct our search for new legal counsel,” the statement said.

The group also announced the hiring of Bradley group, a national law firm, to help in matters related to the third-party investigation of the EC that is looking into potential mishandling of sexual abuse allegations. Bradley will, “specifically assist in the legal aspects related to the ongoing independent third-party investigation by Guidepost Solutions.”

Two additional trustees, James Freeman of Missouri and Rod Martin of Florida, resigned prior to the meeting, reducing the number of trustees to 70.

The 15 resignations since Sept. 20-21 caused a leadership transition in two of the group’s standing committees. Archie Mason was named the chairman of the Convention Finances & Stewardship Committee, and Andrew Hunt will be chairman of the Convention Missions & Ministry Committee, according to the statement.

The statement did not include the naming of an interim EC president and CEO. Ronnie Floyd’s last scheduled day in the role is Oct. 31. Slade thanked Floyd in the statement, saying, “He’s had a tremendous ministry to Southern Baptists for years. We know he loves the Southern Baptist Convention, and we wish him well in the future—wherever God may lead him to serve.”

Floyd said he told the group how it had been a “great honor and privilege to serve here in this role.” He also “thanked them for their service as trustees,” and “…shared with them my commitment to continue to pray for them.”

Sex abuse task force motions fail at Missouri, Mississippi state meetings, pass in California, Arkansas

BRANSON, Mo. (BP) – Motions to create state-level sex abuse task forces failed at the 2021 state Baptist annual meetings in Mississippi and Missouri this week, although a motion on handling sexual abuse was unanimously approved in Arkansas.

A comparable motion presented at the California Southern Baptist Convention meeting Wednesday (Oct. 27) was ruled out of order, and a move to overturn that ruling failed. But a shorter, more general motion passed after about an hourlong discussion, said Terry Barone, spokesperson for California Baptists.

The failed motions in Mississippi and Missouri, worded similarly, would have required the respective state convention presidents to appoint task forces “to examine the issue of sexual abuse for the purpose of developing and recommending a plan” to the respective state convention “to facilitate” the ministries of churches and entities in the state.

Neither state motion called for an independent investigation, but would have required the task force, as worded in the Missouri motion, to examine history to ascertain “whether there were any patterns of intimidation of victims or advocates or resistance to sexual abuse reform initiatives.”

Scott Gordon, pastor of Claycomo Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., presented the motion during the Tuesday (Oct. 26) afternoon session of the Missouri Baptist Convention Annual Meeting at the Branson Convention Center in Branson. The motion failed by a vote of 500-266.

“It appears with what was brought from the microphone, there is a desire to wait and see what is going on on the national level (Southern Baptist Convention) regarding the task force motions that were there,” Gordon told Baptist Press. “My challenge with that is, that is to impact us on a national level as a convention, and I don’t think impacts us on a state level on our state conventions. … I think there was just a bit of confusion as to the intent of the motion in the bringing of the task force.

“It didn’t parallel,” Gordon said, “the motion that Grant Gaines (senior pastor of Bellaire Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn.) had brought in Nashville in June. It was far more a research, review and recommend type of motion.”

Nationally, an independent third-party review of the SBC Executive Committee is already underway by Guidepost Solutions. The investigation “into any allegations of abuse, mishandling of abuse, mistreatment of victims, a pattern of intimidation of victims or advocates, and resistance to sexual abuse reform initiatives” by the staff and members of the Executive Committee from Jan. 1, 2000, to June 14, 2021, conforms to a motion passed by messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting in Nashville.

Mike Leake, who supported the Missouri motion, said he believes other states might submit similar motions at upcoming 2021 annual meetings, and that he and others are prepared to approach the subject again in 2022 if needed.

“Hopefully, I think that there will be some measure taken by our own executive team. I think they’re going to look at some stuff. I wish for the sake of survivors that the messengers would have been the one that took that motion,” he said. “If necessary we will make a similar motion next year.”

Dennis Gard, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Eureka, opposed the Missouri motion because he believes it was premature and would replicate resources already available to churches, Gard told Baptist Press today.

“I’m always against any sort of sexual abuse and I definitely support anyone who has been a victim,” Gard said. “But at the same time, we at the state don’t need to necessarily take on any extra responsibilities that the national might do,” he said, referencing the Guidepost investigation.

Gard described sexual abuse as a local church issue, and said insurance companies and the SBC already offer resources that aid churches in preventing abuse and handling cases of abuse.

“The national level is going to come out with a lot of resources here over the next six months to a year, as they begin their investigation, that we can use here at the state level,” Gard said, “rather than having to recreate that ourselves.”

In Mississippi, state messengers defeated the motion 217-178 Tuesday afternoon, tweeted messenger Adam Wyatt, pastor of Corinth Baptist in Magee, Miss., and a member of the SBC Executive Committee. He said states should be proactive in helping churches respond to the issue of sex abuse.

“We do want to honor local church autonomy,” Wyatt said, “but we also would love for local churches to have a good place to go for best practices. … I do suspect that churches and associations and states will want to be a little bit more proactive, just because it’s such an important issue.”

Eric Sherwood, pastor of Gore Springs Baptist Church in Gore Springs, Miss., introduced the Mississippi motion that, as in Missouri, would have required the task force to “recommend avenues for education and a better understanding of this issue for the Convention and the churches and develop a plan with concrete action steps for more faithful ministry regarding sexual abuse prevention and survivor care in the Convention and Mississippi churches going forward.”

In Arkansas, messengers voted unanimously Tuesday to create a “sexual abuse task force to ensure the policies and procedures of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention are above reproach in handling sexual abuse allegations.”

No messengers who opposed the motions in Mississippi were available for comment to Baptist Press.

Prestonwood conference aims to give hope, resources to caregivers

Prestonwood Hope for the Caregiver

PLANO – Being a caregiver of any sort – be it for a senior adult stricken with dementia or for a child with special needs – can feel like an isolated journey full of questions with no easy answers. Hope can often feel like it’s in short supply.

In an attempt to alleviate some of the stresses associated with caregiving, Prestonwood will host its 5th annual Hope for the Caregiver conference Nov. 6 on its Plano campus. The conference, returning after missing last year due to COVID, is $10 per family and includes lunch and refreshments. Special-needs childcare will be available.

Alan Moore, Prestonwood’s Minister to Senior Adults, said more than 300 churches have been invited to the event. Session topics will include more than 25 breakout sessions in the areas of self-care; caregiving; financial and legal considerations; memory care; and special needs/disabilities.

“So often, caregivers don’t know where to turn or what’s available,” Moore said. “It’s our desire to come alongside caregivers to give them resources, tools, materials and information … just to help them know what’s available as they’re on their journey to care for a loved one.”

Prestonwood has a number of ministries aimed at not only serving senior adults, but keeping them in the stream of service in the community and beyond.

“We are just encouraging senior adults to continue living, continue serving,” Moore said. “Scripture says as long as you have breath, we are to praise the Lord. I believe as long as we have breath, God wants us to serve him, as well.”

State Briefs: NRHBC sets goal of 2,000 gospel conversations in 5 months

Calling Who’s Your One “one more tool” in your personal evangelism toolbox, North Richland Hills Baptist Church pastor Scott Maze is challenging his church to have 2,000 gospel conversations between August and December 2021.

As of Oct. 10, members have recorded 446 conversations. They have used “3 Circles,” Evangelism Explosion, the “ABC” (Admit-Believe-Confess) method, and other tools to teach their people to talk to their neighbors about Christ.

“This witnessing effort is basically asking our church to make the effort and have a gospel conversation with those in our lives or someone God brings in our life. God can take it from there. When we’re willing to be obedient and step out in faith, it’s amazing what “happens,” said NRHBC missions pastor Danny Stafford.

The church uses a large structure in the lobby to encourage church members to name the persons they are praying for, with the intent of having a gospel conversation with them in the coming days. The emphasis includes training during Bible fellowship group times.

— NORTH RICHLAND HILLS BAPTIST CHURCH

Texas Baptist Home opens West Texas office

The Texas Baptist Home for Children opened a new office in Odessa in July 2021. The office is located inside Mission Dorado Baptist Church.

Dana Holt, a long-time Texas Baptist Home employee, will direct the Permian Basin branch of the foster care and child placement agency. Holt has been adoption director for the past seven years. According to Holt, the goal is to recruit foster families from the pews of churches in West Texas. She has been contacting churches in the Permian Basin to establish relationships and to bring awareness of the need of foster and adoptive homes in West Texas.

Only 14 percent of West Texas children removed from their biological families by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services stay in their own communities with a foster family. Most children are sent to Dallas or Houston for placement. In 2020, 514 children were removed in West Texas from their families but only 70 were able to stay in their community.

If you have a connection that would help build relationships and help TBHC bring and keep kids home, please contact Dana at dholt@tbhc.org.

— TEXAS BAPTIST HOME FOR CHILDREN

FBC Bracketville

FBC Brackettville turns 100

First Baptist Church Brackettville celebrates 100 years of ministry Nov. 13-14, 2021. The church, originally the military chapel on Fort Clark, was moved into Brackettville in 1947. The church is requesting that former members and members call 830.563.2245 and leave a name and address.

— FBC BRACKETTEVILLE

Ed Fenton FBC Malakoff

Fenton called to pastor First Malakoff

Ed Fenton, formerly worship pastor at Rock Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro, began his service as the pastor of First Baptist Malakoff on Oct. 3. This is Fenton’s first senior pastorate. He formerly served as worship pastor for First Baptist Malakoff between 2011 and 2013. He is pictured above with his wife, Sara, and their daughters.

— FBC MALAKOFF

Little Cypress Baptist Church to host crisis preparation event

Located on the storm-prone Gulf Coast, Little Cypress Baptist Church is hosting a crisis preparation event for the community, Feb. 11-12, 2022. The training event will begin Friday morning and will conclude Saturday afternoon. Vendor space is available at no charge but registration by vendors is required. Food is also available for purchase. Contact Pastor David Turner at 409.330.3623 to register for a vendor booth.

— LITTLE CYPRESS BAPTIST CHURCH