Month: April 2022

Highland Lakes to honor Dawdy, new director Flowers takes reins

After 23 years of serving as executive director at Highland Lakes Camp and Conference Center, Danny Dawdy retired in early March.

He served local Texas churches in Huntsville, Morton, Port Lavaca, Eastland, Palestine, and LaGrange, as well as Baker, La., before beginning his leadership of two Texas Baptist encampments. Dawdy served from 1995-1998 as executive director at Camp Chaparral and 1998-2022 at Highland Lakes. It has been estimated that at least 1.5 million students have come through the gates at Highland Lakes since he began his ministry on Lake Travis 23 years ago.

Dawdy’s footprint on the camping ministry both in Texas and nationwide has been felt for many years and will continue to be felt for years to come. There will be a celebration of he and his wife Terry’s ministry at HLCCC on April 23 at Highland Lakes Camp. The public is invited to attend. There will be reception in honor of the Dawdys from 1:30-2:45 p.m. followed at 3 p.m. with a time of celebration featuring Billy Beachum, the Skit Guys, and other special guests in the Miles Auditorium. A basket will be available for notes of appreciation and love offerings.

A new era began under the leadership of Norman Flowers following Dawdy’s retirement. Flowers most recently served at First Baptist Church of Marble Falls as the missions and discipleship pastor. He and his wife, Lori, felt called to lead Highland Lakes into a bright future and began leading the camp on March 7, 2022.

Flowers brings 40 years of ministry experience to a strong staff and one of the most beautiful camps the state of Texas has to offer. There have been difficult days in recent years for camps but the leadership at Highland Lakes Camp believes the best days are still to come.

Visit for more information and dates of camps and events coming soon.

New generation of evangelists responding to God’s call in Texas, beyond

At least 15 Southern Baptist evangelists have died within the last 10 years.

The list, according to the Southern Baptist Evangelists fellowship group, includes Roy Fish in 2012; Freddie Gage and Larry Walker in 2014; Rick Ingle, 2015; Gene Williams, Sam Cathey, and Vernon Stephenson, 2016; Billy Graham, Leon Westerhouse, Tom Cox and Ron Herrod, 2018; Bailey Smith, 2019; Joe Allbright and Joe Murray, 2020; and Eddie Middleton, 2021.

The remaining 62 members of Southern Baptist Evangelists actively look for the next generation of evangelists “through personal contact, mentorship, one-on-one relationships and encouragement,” Amy Stockwell told the Texan recently. The high-soprano vocalist and her preaching husband, David, from Katy both are long-time members of Southern Baptist Evangelists and members of Second Baptist Church in Houston.

“The worth and work of the evangelist—a unique and specific calling in the body of Christ—is rarely taught, encouraged, or presented in our churches, colleges, and seminaries as a calling to ministry that has validity, priority, or importance,” Stockwell said. “It is vital that we as Southern Baptists decide that God’s priorities in this area should also be our own. It is our responsibility to win people to Christ, but also to train them to reach others with the gospel, and to teach, train, encourage, equip, support, and send out the next generation of God-called evangelists.”

Preston Nix, professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said that while pastors are shepherds of one flock, evangelists “have a passion for souls but also a passion to train others how to ‘draw the net’ or lead people to faith in Christ. Also, as recorded in the book of Acts and throughout Christian history, evangelists tend to want to go where people have not heard the gospel message. They want to give everyone an opportunity to be saved.”

While pastors receive income from the church and perhaps one or more other sources, “evangelists have to build a base of support and become ‘experts’ at all aspects of ministry and business, build a board, and put together functioning ministry offices,” Stockwell said. “This takes a great deal of money, for staff, travel expenses, living expenses, health insurance and more.”

International evangelist and Southern Baptist Sammy Tippit of San Antonio agreed.

“In many ways it’s harder to be an evangelist than a pastor,” said Tippit, now in his 51st year in vocational evangelism. “It requires solid faith, trust that God will provide everything, from finances to speaking engagements to effectiveness in ministry, and to a spiritually, mentally and physically healthy family.”

Tippit suggests the new evangelists he mentors first set up as a 501c3 non-profit, with a board of directors for ideas and accountability. His core group has been with him for at least 30 years.

“Combining the board’s and Sammy’s ideas has been very helpful,” Tippit said. “We have the kind of relationship that enables me to receive them when they speak into my life honestly and truthfully.”

Who are some of those God has called out more recently in this field?

Ryan Fontenot

Ryan Fontenot, 45, a member at BT Church in McAllen, started RAGE Ministries in 2003, an acronym for Reaching a Generation Endangered. Reared in church and a Christ-follower since age 18, Fontenot was 27 when he responded to a call to vocational evangelism during Amsterdam 2000, a nine-day conference for preaching evangelists he’d unexpectedly been invited to.

“We go after the next generation, Gen Z,” said Fontenot, who serves as personal and event evangelism consultant for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “We preach the gospel and we prepare the next generation to do the same.”

Gen Z refers to middle school and high school students. Fontenot leads weekend conferences, camps, and ministers online, as well.

“We partner with churches, associations, camps, conferences. Sometimes I’m there to give the gospel; other times it’s how to share their faith.,” he said. Fontenot usually is invited to nine camps during the summer and about 25 other engagements throughout the year.

“It’s a passion of ours,” Fontenot said of his family, which including his wife Heather and their three children. “If we don’t tell the generations after us about Jesus, well, they’re the real endangered species in the world.”

The Wagoner family

Garrett Wagoner has served in ministry 18 years, the last two as discipleship pastor at Fivestone Community Church in Garland. Last year, Wagoner responded to a call to full-time vocational evangelism despite the fact he and his wife Rachel are parents to 1-year-old twins and a 4-year-old, all boys.

“I had a good friend, a vocational evangelist, who died of COVID,” Wagoner said. “We’d have conversations years before about my passion, my desire, for telling people about Jesus. The day he died God started stirring my heart. The Lord made it very clear: ‘The time is now.’

“When I preach I see people respond, a physical response,” Wagoner said. “Over time I realized I always wanted to be intentional in sharing the gospel, giving an invitation when I preach.”

His pastor, Jerry Zucha, and Fivestone’s leadership team recognized his evangelistic giftedness, encouraged him to pursue vocational evangelism, and gave him a launch plan.

“The Lord has blessed,” Wagoner said. “We’re living on faith and we haven’t missed a meal. He’s given us a full schedule through spring.”

Wagoner is setting up a donor/partner team, he’s in the process of legalizing his 501c3 non-profit status, and he’s “learning how to run the non-profit with integrity, in a way to honor God.”

“And, as evangelists, we’re there to encourage leaders, so I’m learning the ins and outs of that, too,” he added. “God has brought the right people around us to help us.”

Wagoner preaches in churches, at camps, and at youth events. With 57 million teens who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, there is a great need for people to respond to God’s evangelistic call on their life by walking faithfully with Jesus, serving in their local church, and in God’s timing, surrendering to full-time ministry, Wagoner said.

“If you think about lost people all the time, think about how you can get them to respond to the gospel, and want to train others to share their faith, to mobilize believers to articulate the gospel to people in their lives, then God is probably calling you into full-time evangelism,” Wagoner said. “Pray about it. Read John 15, Ephesians 4. Find mentors.

“What we’re seeing is a hunger for God’s word,” the evangelist continued. “They respond to authenticity. They’re hungry for the truth. Engage them with stories of your life that connect with Scriptures and they respond.”


Broken leaders are the best leaders

Ihave always been fascinated with the topic of leadership and love to study how great leaders operate and execute vision. However, the longer I have been on my journey of learning to lead, the more I realize the best leaders are broken leaders. 

The leaders I have come to love and desire to follow are those whose strength is in their brokenness. In fact, after a little more than two decades in ministry, I have come to a place where I don’t trust a leader who has not walked through seasons of brokenness. As I read Scripture, I believe a pattern we see in great leaders is that God calls, He breaks, and then He blesses. 

To be clear, brokenness in the life of a leader looks different for everyone. Noah’s brokenness was different than Moses’. David’s valleys were not the same as Paul’s. All these men went through seasons of brokenness, yet they experienced God’s favor and blessings. The lessons I have learned through great-yet-broken leaders in the Bible have forever been seared into my mind. Allow me to share the top three lessons with you:

Don’t equate brokenness with weakness

Often when we see someone experiencing a season of brokenness, we assume that person is weak. We question their mental and emotional capacities and default to the notion that the person can’t handle their circumstances. However, this is the refining process the Lord uses to grow people to be next-level leaders. When leaders come to grips with their humanity, they begin to realize their deep need for God every moment of every day. Brokenness has a unique way of creating a new sense of dependence on the Lord. 

"I began to desire to be that type of leader, one who knows his brokenness and embraces the Lord’s ability to use me in spite of me."

Broken leaders become humble leaders

We have all been in a room when a leader speaks and we are immediately put off by his or her lack of humility, overconfidence, or arrogance. I was once that type of leader until the Lord blessed me with seasons of brokenness. It was in those valley experiences that I began to watch leaders who led with grace and humility. I was so encouraged and immediately drawn to leaders whose confidence was in the Lord, not in their own ability. I began to desire to be that type of leader, one who knows his brokenness and embraces the Lord’s ability to use me in spite of me. 

Broken leaders have nothing to prove

Some people spend much of their lives trying to “be somebody.” They feel like they have to do everything they can to prove themselves. While there is nothing wrong with working diligently to do the best job you can, broken leaders realize they have nothing to prove. A leader who understands and embraces brokenness realizes that anything good and worthy comes from the Lord. I love what Paul says in Acts 20:24: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord.” Paul knew he was broken and that the only one he needed to please was the Lord. He knew his value was in the Lord and the ministry He had blessed him with. Leaders, when we understand our brokenness, we embrace His strength. When we lead in His strength, we have no need to prove anything to anyone, but only to please the Lord.

Broken leaders are the best leaders. They don’t have to hide their fears and insecurities behind big voices or influential positions. They simply depend on the grace and goodness of God every moment of every day. I pray as you lead forward, you would not be ashamed of your brokenness but embrace His strength in you. I love you, I believe in you, I am in your corner!

Lone Star Scoop • May 2022

Final preparations being made for Roundup collegiate event
Registration is ongoing and final preparations are being made for Roundup, SBTC’s headline collegiate event, set for May 11-13 at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Roundup is a collaborative learning event that champions church-based collegiate leaders. It’s also a venue where churches and their leaders can make meaningful connections with one another. “College ministries are on an island, and our goal is to create a network of churches within SBTC that can help each other in the tasks to reach, develop, and send college students,” SBTC Collegiate Ministry Associate Mitch Tidwell said. Shane Pruitt (North American Mission Board), Dhati Lewis (Blueprint), and Austin Wadlow (The Commons Church) will be the keynote speakers at the event. Visit for more information and to register.

SBTC Black Church Network restructures, looks ahead

The SBTC’s African American Fellowship has unanimously decided to rebrand itself as the Black Church Network (BCN) and is forming teams to engage in cooperative missions efforts across Texas.

BCN serves in harmony with the SBTC in fulfilling the Great Commission through support of the Cooperative Program. Member churches will aim to help one another in missions, evangelism, compassion ministries, church planting, and church growth while promoting the services offered by the SBTC. The network is currently working to inform churches about its purpose and objective and forming ministry teams.

“As pastors, associate pastors, and leaders in the black community, it’s always beneficial to connect with others who are serving in similar positions,” said Tony Mathews, SBTC’s senior strategist for missional ministries. “The network will be a source of encouragement, as many of the participants experience some of the some challenges in ministry. This is a great opportunity for our leaders and churches to expand the great work they are already doing.”

For more information, e-mail Mathews at

Task force to review SBTC sexual abuse policies, practices
LONGVIEW—SBTC President Todd Kaunitz, pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church, has appointed a seven-member task force to review the convention’s policies and practices on sexual abuse prevention. Kaunitz appointed the task force in response to a motion made by Michael Criner—pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church in Brownsboro—and approved by messengers during the SBTC Annual Meeting in November 2021. The task force consists of: Justin Arnold, chairperson (New Beginnings Baptist Church, Longview), Adam Mason (Houston’s First Baptist Church), Joyce McKinley (Rowlett Friendship Baptist Church), Christy Piles (Emory Baptist Church), Spencer Plumlee (First Baptist Church of Mansfield), Tamera Turner (Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church), and Criner.
SWBTS board approves $37.3 million budget
heological Seminary board of trustees has approved the proposed fiscal year 2023 budget of $37.367 million, representing a 5.86% increase over the current year. The budget includes a 3% cost-of-living increase for faculty and full-time staff, a 3% increase in tuition and fees, as well as targeted investments in Hispanic programs, technology infrastructure, and other campus improvements. “It is my joy to report to the board of trustees that the state of Southwestern Seminary is strong, and it is growing stronger every day by God’s grace,” Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College, said in his report to the board during the April 5 plenary session. Additionally, Danny Roberts—executive pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church—was re-elected to role as chairman of the board. Information from SWBTS was used in this report.
SBTC pastor among trio to be nominated for SBC president
Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, is among three men who have been announced as candidates for the office of SBC president. Messengers will vote during the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., June 14-15. Barber will also serve as chairman of the Committee on Resolutions at the June meeting—a position he was appointed to by current SBC President Ed Litton, who has opted not to seek a second term. Two other candidates for SBC president had been announced as of press time: Florida pastor Tom Ascol; and Robin Hadaway, senior professor of missions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The Texan will publish interviews with each of the candidates in its print and online platforms in June. Information from Baptist Press was used in this report.

Baptism not just for new believers

This coming Sunday is set as a time for people to profess their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior through the public act of baptism. Southern Baptists have set the designation as “Fill the Tank Sunday.” Those who have come to faith in Christ take this first step to show their obedience to Jesus. Yet, everyone who needs baptism is not always a new believer in Jesus.

I was brought up in a Baptist home. My parents did not attend every time the doors were open, but we were regular Sunday morning and occasional Sunday night attenders. I went to revival meetings and Vacation Bible School. My pastor was a man who faithfully preached the gospel. About age 8 I went forward at an invitation but did not understand what I was doing. Without any counseling I was scheduled for baptism the next Sunday. The only thing I remember about the experience was that the water was cold. They forgot to heat the baptistry. 

By the time I was 12, I came to an understanding of my sinfulness. During a special evangelistic service, I went forward again. Similar to the previous time, no one shared Scripture or prayed with me. They dunked me again, but there was no relationship with Christ.

Shortly afterward, my teenage years turned horribly rebellious. My lifestyle began to spiral downward. My mother would pray for me. My dad would talk with me. I would insist that I was “saved” because I believed in Jesus. My belief was head knowledge, not a heart conversion. 

"Regardless of how long a person has been a believer, it is always important to have baptism on the correct side of the salvation experience."

As my high school days were ending, I was even more defiant in my sinful activities. My best friend in high school shared the gospel with me. My pastor continued to preach the gospel. The Lord broke through in my life two weeks before graduation. Alone in my bedroom, for the first time, I totally gave myself to the Lord Jesus Christ. I could not have explained it that night, but through repentance and faith He granted to me eternal life. There was an evident 2 Corinthian 5:17 moment. 

Four months later I answered God’s call to preach. My pastor began to mentor me. In one conversation he realized that I had become a believer after I had been “dunked.” He showed scripture where baptism is a picture of our salvation experience. Baptism should always follow conversion. Even though I had preached and had begun formal training for ministry, I submitted to scriptural baptism. 

Some of the necessary elements for scriptural baptism are the proper mode—immersion; the proper authority—a New Testament church; the proper candidate—a believer. Regardless of how long a person has been a believer, it is always important to have baptism on the correct side of the salvation experience. Be obedient! Do it now!

SBC’s Howe: 2023 annual meeting will no longer be held in Charlotte, N.C., due to space issues

NASHVILLE (BP) – The 2021 SBC Annual Meeting was the largest crowd we have hosted at an SBC annual meeting in a generation. This June’s meeting in Anaheim is shaping up to draw close to 10,000 for a gathering on the West Coast – nearly doubling the number of messengers from our gathering in Phoenix in 2017.

This started in 2018 when more than 9,600 messengers came to Dallas. After adding in guests, exhibitors, credentialed press and others, the official attendance was 16,032. Then in 2019, 8,183 messengers and 13,502 total attendees made their way to Birmingham, Ala.

And 2021 blew past those totals with 15,726 messengers and 21,474 total attendees making Music City their home for the week.

It’s safe to say a new generation of Southern Baptists has engaged with the Convention, and attendance at our annual meetings has ballooned. As the entity in charge of planning and promoting the annual meeting, the SBC Executive Committee is ecstatic over the response we’ve seen in recent years.

But that leaves us with a major problem for 2023.

When Charlotte, N.C., was selected in 2016 as the host city for the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting, the plans allowed for a maximum of 8,000 messengers and guests in the 280,000 square feet of available space at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Simply put, Charlotte simply does not have adequate space to host the SBC Annual Meeting in 2023.

The space now required to host an annual meeting exceeds 400,000 square feet – 225,000 for the main hall, 150,000 for the exhibit hall and 50,000 for registration and storage. This year in Anaheim, we will utilize more than 500,000 square feet. Last year in Nashville, we required more than 400,000 square feet—and truly needed more.

Charlotte has only 280,000 square feet of meeting space – less than 75 percent of what is needed to meet the current demands of our annual gathering.

Several conversations have taken place with meeting organizers and city officials in Charlotte over the past few months. Our team visited the city in February to see if any workable solution could be found. Ultimately, we were unable to find a way to keep the meeting in Charlotte – there simply was nowhere for us to hold the meeting as needed in the Queen City.

We also began researching options and earnestly praying for an alternative to Charlotte that would meet the current needs of our Convention for the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting. We inquired of every major city and convention center in the southeast United States. In the end, only one city was able to meet our four major needs for 2023: geographic proximity to Southern Baptists, hotel availability, available dates and available space.

That city is New Orleans, Louisiana.

The annual meeting was last held in New Orleans in 2012 – a historic gathering that saw Fred Luter elected SBC president. After meeting with city and convention center officials in New Orleans as well as with SBC Executive Committee officers, SBC EC Chairman Rolland Slade has called a special meeting of the EC in order for EC members to vote to relocate the 2023 Annual Meeting. This is in accordance with SBC Constitution Article 11.3, since the City of Charlotte is unable to fulfill its commitments to host the event – they simply do not have space for us to meet as needed.

Please understand this move comes at no fault to Charlotte other than the space they have available. The city wants to host Southern Baptists, but simply cannot. Our meeting has grown beyond the city’s capability and usable space. We will do everything in our power to honor the Queen City as this move is made, and it is our prayer that Southern Baptists will honor Charlotte for its willingness to host us.

As for New Orleans, several updates have been made to the city and the convention center since Southern Baptists last met on the bayou, and we are getting ready for an annual meeting unlike any the Crescent City has seen.

See you in Anaheim … and then—prayerfully—New Orleans!

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.

Pastor who helped at school during tornado: I just did ‘what needed to be done’

March winds turned destructive so far this year, spawning tornadoes and spreading wildfires in rural cities such as Jacksboro, Gatesville, and Carbon. Residents, disaster relief volunteers, first responders, churches, and pastors met the challenges of what was a stormy, dangerous spring.

Jacksboro: ‘God saved us’

“Is that normal?” Adam Lazarine’s teenage daughter, Keslie, asked her dad as the pair sat in the carpool line at Jacksboro Elementary at 3:40 p.m. on March 21. Amid tornado warnings, Lazarine, pastor of Live Oak Baptist Church in Jacksboro, had picked up Keslie at the middle school and was now waiting for fourth-grader Kale.

“You could hear it … a constant roll of thunder. The sky was dark, almost black. A wall of cloud filled the horizon as high as you could see,” Lazarine said.

Things were by no means normal.

His pickup sandwiched within a line of cars, Lazarine saw the school principal, Michael Qualls, urging everyone inside. Lazarine started Keslie toward the building and rushed to vehicles behind his to spread the warning. Eventually, he followed the group inside as Qualls notified the cars in front of Lazarine’s and hurried to pull down metal storm doors on one side of the school building.

A harrowing video from school security cameras shows Qualls scrambling to reach another interior hallway and shut storm doors as lights flicker and debris flies, milliseconds before the tornado hits, shearing off the roof of the adjacent gym.

“Why God chose me to be in that situation at that time, I don’t know,” Qualls told Dallas-based KDFW television.

As the doors descended, Lazarine found himself inside a long hallway with students, teachers, and Qualls. Ceiling tiles fell, and the pastor recalled glimpsing the gym ceiling torn away. Huddled inside along the interior walls, the students and adults stayed safe. Lazarine’s background in sports medicine had prepared him to stay calm in emergencies, but his emotions broke as he found his son uninjured in
another hallway after emergency crews arrived.

“God saved us,” Kale told him.

“Yes, he did,” Lazarine replied.

Even weeks later, the pastor’s voice cracks in the retelling. He praised both school and city officials for their rapid responses, maintaining he did nothing heroic but “just what needed to be done.”

Jacksboro is a small community, emphasis on community … where everybody knows everyone’s name. The principal thanked Lazarine for his help, and days later, Sunday, on the courthouse lawn, even grabbed him in an embrace. Qualls had seen the video of his narrow escape.

“If you hadn’t done what you did, I wouldn’t have been able to be where I was,” Qualls said.

Lazarine noted many Jacksboro residents who have said their routines inexplicably varied on that day.

“That’s God’s sovereignty, Lazarine said. “He took care of everybody. But even if God had allowed something catastrophic, He would still be sovereign. He is still on His throne.”

Things could have been much different, Lazarine admitted. Throughout the community and even at the church, folks are doing clean up and restoration, but, thankfully, “we did not have to do any funerals,” he said. Shortly after the tornado, Live Oak church members started preparing food for first responders, coordinating with city officials. They served many at the church and transported food to the downtown fire department, the staging area for emergency management teams.

A Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief quick response kitchen quickly deployed to the church to assist, as did chainsaw crews from SBTC and Arkansas Baptist DR, who completed several jobs. An SBTC DR laundry and shower unit, with staff, deployed to Live Oak, too. Jacksboro citizens also actively engaged in recovery efforts, clearing roads with their tractors and heavy equipment common to a farming community.

Nine people were hurt and 90 homes destroyed in Jacksboro by the tornado, officials said. No students in school that day were injured. The March 21 storm system spawned more than 25 tornadoes in Texas, damaging 1,000 homes before moving eastward into neighboring states, according to news reports.

SBTC DR crews also deployed to the Gilmer area to assist feeding and tornado recovery efforts there.

Wildfires sweep Central Texas

Wildfires fanned by damaging winds tore through the dry Central Texas region in mid-March, igniting and re-igniting in sections of Eastland County. Much of the town of Carbon was destroyed. Jody Forbus, who pastors Carbon Community Church, serves as volunteer fire chief, and is the owner/operator of the Carbon Ag & Outdoors store, helped lead local first responders. The business and church became centers for recovery efforts.

Ron Lowe, pastor of First Baptist Church of Flat, near Gatesville, helped transport a trailer and van full of supplies to Carbon, where he spoke with Forbus. Little did Lowe know that very soon, he, too, would be fighting fires. The next Sunday, March 27, Lowe projected slides of the Carbon damage in church and the congregation prayed for both town and congregation.

Church let out at noon, but by 2 p.m., Flat itself was being evacuated, Lowe recalled. Fires raged within a few hundred yards of many church members’ homes. Lowe assisted two elderly couples whose homes were near the flames before returning home to gather documents and take his wife to her mother’s home in Hamilton.

Lowe returned with bottled water and supplies for firefighters. He found Harrold Baustian, a deacon in his 70s who serves as volunteer fire chief, in the field manning a fire truck. The pastor offered to help; Baustian directed him to extinguish flare-ups, pockets of fire springing up and threatening homes even as airplanes dropped water and fire retardant on the main blaze. Lowe spent a day-and-a-half putting out flares. He has since officially joined the local VFD.

FBC Flat also opened its doors to emergency responders, who staged at the church. Members cooked for firefighters, and neighboring churches generously sent food and supplies. Unity Church of Copperas Cove was among these, as were congregations from Gholson and Belton.

“We were overwhelmed by [help from] all the churches and community,” Lowe said. “Firefighters came from California to Florida to help. … The least we could do was feed and nurture them.”

It took a village. Or a Central Texas community, Lowe mused. Referencing the Golden Rule, the pastor added, “All the glory goes to God. … He brought us together in unity to be the example of love.”


Administrative professionals are worthy of honor!

Administrative Professionals Day is Wednesday, April 27. The term “administrative professionals” is an overarching term that includes secretaries, ministry assistants, receptionists, bookkeepers, office managers and much more. In years past, this was called Secretaries Day.

Many churches have persons in one or more of these positions; therefore, it is appropriate to set aside a day to honor those who are responsible for administrative tasks, coordinate information in order to support a good office environment, and who are dedicated to furthering their growth in their chosen professions.

In my 65 years of ministry, I have worked with many administrative professionals. Most of these professionals were hard-working and dedicated individuals. I want to share what I have learned about these helpers through the years.

Most of these professionals were dedicated to their jobs. They served in these positions because they believed they were called by God to their work. They loved the church and wanted to do an excellent job. They often worked overtime to get the job done. In several of the churches where I served, the professionals were members of the church, also. They loved the people and went the second mile to serve the Lord and the church members.

Many of these professionals saw themselves as servants. They served with a spirit of humility. As servants, they tried their best to meet every need they faced. Often, they had to deal with people who came to the church asking for financial or food assistance. They had a heart for helping these who were in need.

As servants, these professionals saw their work as ministry. It was not just a job. These wonderful servants felt they were called to their positions to serve God; thus, their job was a ministry not just work to be done.

Without a doubt, many of the professionals with whom I worked were continual learners. They wanted to be the best. They read books. They attended conferences and workshops. In one church where I served, we began using computers. The professionals and pastoral staff soon learned this was a life-long learning process. At first, it was extremely hard; but the professionals stayed with it until they could master the use of the computer to help in their work.

Almost all of these professionals were submissive to their supervisor. They knew their work was a ministry to God; but they also recognized that they were responsible to someone for getting their work done. In most cases, these professionals wanted to please their supervisor. I think they saw this as part of ministry.

As I think about the administrative professionals with whom I worked, I believe that I could sum up my experience by saying these professionals just loved Jesus and wanted to serve Him. Many of these professionals could have worked at secular jobs and earned much more money than they were paid as a church or denominational worker. They preferred to work for God by serving Him in a church or denominational position. I thank God for every one of these professionals with whom I worked.

Perhaps you might be a pastoral staff member reading this article. If so, you might consider honoring your administrative professional(s) on this special day. The following suggestions may be helpful:

  • Take the professional(s) to lunch. Invite someone to go with you if you are the only pastor and the professional is a lady. Or you may wish to have lunch delivered.
  • Give a gift of flowers, candy or fruit, candle, etc.
  • Recognize the professional(s) in a worship service.
  • Recognize these servants for special days (work anniversary, marriage anniversary, special achievements, etc.)
  • Always give the professional(s) praise for a job well-done.

Administrative Professionals Day can be a highlight for your staff members in this category.

Workers always appreciate recognition. This will motivate them to do a better job. They deserve recognition. They are the face of your congregation in many instances. Recognition helps them to know and understand their role better. Have a great Administrative Professionals Day!

5 facts about Annie Armstrong and the Easter Offering

Each year, churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) give generously to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering (AAEO). The AAEO is the primary way the SBC, through the North American Missions Board (NAMB), supports mission efforts in North America. One hundred percent of gifts given to AAEO are used to support more than 2,200 missionary families serving across the United States and Canada.

Here are five facts you should know about Annie Armstrong and the Easter Offering she started.

1. Annie Walker Armstrong was born in 1850 in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father died when she was 2, leaving her and her four siblings to be raised by her Christian mother. Although raised in a Baptist church, Armstrong did not become a believer until she was 19. In a Sunday service during the Civil War, Armstrong’s pastor told his Baptist congregation, “The religion of Jesus Christ gives peace in the midst of trouble.” Wanting this peace for herself, Armstrong put her faith in Jesus that day.

2. Shortly after she became a Christian, Armstrong joined 100 other members of her congregation in planting Eutaw Place Church. She remained a member of that church for nearly 70 years, until her death in 1938. At Eutaw she taught the Infant Class (i.e., children under the age of 12) for almost half a century. She also, as Shannon Baker says, “maintained an interest in ministering to mothers, immigrants, the underprivileged, the sick, African Americans, Indians, and later in her life, her Jewish neighbors.” It was at Eutaw that Armstrong also developed a passion for missions.

3. Armstrong became the founder and president of the Ladies’ Bay View Mission, an organization that cared for the poor, located on the site where Johns Hopkins Bayview

Medical Center now stands. In 1880, at the age of 30, she served as the first president of the Woman’s Baptist Home Mission Society of Maryland, which involved women in supporting the SBC’s Home Mission Board (now known as the North American Mission Board). The society’s first priority locally was forming a school for Native Americans in what is now Oklahoma and ministering to Chinese immigrants and impoverished mountain people. Armstrong later became the corresponding secretary (equivalent to an executive director) of the Maryland Mission Rooms, later called the Mission Literature Department, SBC. Initially, this department served as a missions library and reading room, but later became a publisher and distributor of missions literature.

4. At the age of 38, Armstrong led in framing the constitution of the Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), an auxiliary to the SBC. She served as corresponding secretary until 1906. During this time she refused a salary for her work because she would never give to the Lord “that which costs me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). While at WMU, Armstrong and missionary Lottie Moon proposed a Christmas Offering to raise money to send single women to China to work with Moon. The offering, which raised enough for three missionaries, became the precursor to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions — so named at Armstrong’s recommendation — which has raised billions from SBC churches and members for foreign missions.

5. Armstrong proposed the first WMU self-denial offering for Home Missions. In 1934, it was named in honor of Armstrong. To date, more than $2 billion has been donated by Southern Baptist churches and individuals to the AAEO, which supports thousands of missionaries in church planting and compassion ministries. While 35% of NAMB’s budget is provided by the Cooperative Program, 50% is provided by the AAEO. As NAMB notes, “Because of this sacrificial giving, millions of lives have been and continue to be transformed by the power of the gospel.”

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EC search team releases survey, requests input from Southern Baptists

NASHVILLE (BP) – A survey to aid in developing a candidate profile for the next president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee has been released by the team charged with hiring the successor to Ronnie Floyd, who left the organization in October 2021.

“We have generated these questions to help better inform us on what Southern Baptist leaders, pastors, and churches are looking for in our next SBC Executive Committee president & CEO,” the survey says.

The survey results will remain confidential, yet anonymity is possible as respondents are not required to provide their names.

The survey can be accessed at

Members of SBC Executive Committee President Search Team include Adron Robinson (chair), David Sons (vice chair), Mollie Duddleston, Mike Keahbone, Jeremy Morton, Philip Robertson and Rolland Slade.