Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Baptist communicators relay ideas, advice using popular TED Talks format

NASHVILLE (BP) – Tapping the popular "TED Talks" format, Baptist communication and public relations professionals shared their experiences and counsel in a first-ever Fall Forum originating from the Southern Baptist Convention Building in Nashville.

Baptist Communicators Association officers Jim Veneman, Cam Tracy and Shannon Baker organized the six-hour event of presentations that, akin to TED Talks, relayed ideas, advice and teaching from practitioners in a variety of fields.

Between presentations, Baker, communications director at the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network (the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware) and BCA professional development coordinator, showed video clips with other professionals sharing tips on rebranding, web development and other topics.

Those who couldn't go to Nashville could watch the event through online streaming provided by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Viewers were encouraged to text questions to the speakers. Several college journalism classes watched online.

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1% CP Challenge: Learn, pray, give

NASHVILLE (BP) – During October's Cooperative Program Emphasis Month on the Southern Baptist Convention's calendar, churches are encouraged to use the "1% Challenge" video as an educational and motivational tool.

The 1% CP Challenge "is a succinct way to do something more -- an understandable way to say, 'Yeah, we can do that,'" said Frank S. Page, SBC Executive Committee president. "It is understandable, is easily acted upon, and can be done without shifting major sections of a church's finances."

The month-long emphasis spurs churches to learn about the Cooperative Program and prayerfully consider increasing their contributions to its work.

In 2012, 7 percent of cooperating Southern Baptist churches reported they had accepted the 1% CP Challenge in support of missions and ministries led by their state conventions and the SBC, according to a study by LifeWay Research for the Executive Committee, called the 2012 Cooperative Program Omnibus Survey.

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Braxton Caner remembered, honored during Brewton-Parker chapel Oct. 2

Clockwise from left: Bucky Kennedy, pastor of Vidalia First Baptist Church, Vidailia, Ga., Ergun Caner, president of Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga., Jill Caner and Drake Caner.

MOUNT VERNON — On Thursday, October 2, during the regular chapel service, Brewton-Parker College trustee chairman and pastor of Vidalia First Baptist Church, Vidalia, Ga., Bucky Kennedy, led a special time honoring the late Braxton Caner, son of President and Mrs. Jill Caner and older brother to Drake Caner.

During the memorial time, Kennedy, who is also the Caners' pastor, announced the establishment of The Braxton Caner Freshman Athlete of the Year Award to be given each year beginning in 2015 to a qualifying athlete chosen by the Athletic Director. Those qualifying will be Brewton-Parker athletes who display undeniable Christian character, visible strength during adversity, and overall excellence in team competition.

During the memorial time, Kennedy also announced the establishment of The Braxton Caner Memorial Fund for the Prevention of Suicide and Cyber-bullying. In his presentation, Kennedy mentioned the brief cyber-bullying episode which took place on a social media thread only a few weeks before Braxton tragically died by a self-inflicted wound. While doubtful anyone can “prove” cyber-bullying was the cause of the young Caner’s death, the impression nonetheless exists strongly enough to establish a memorial fund to raise awareness and prevent both teen suicide and internet crimes like cyber-harassment and cyber-bullying.

In addition to the newly established fund, a website is reportedly under construction and will be available at www.braxtonslist.com. All donations to the fund may be marked as “Braxton Caner Memorial Fund” and mailed to Braxton Caner Memorial Fund, c/o Brewton-Parker College, P.O. Box 197, Number 2014, Mount Vernon, GA 30445. Donors may also give online once the website is launched.


Baptist evangelist’s film available at national video chain

SHERMAN, Ill. – Bruce Kugler produced the film “God’s Courtroom” with the help of his church, Living Faith Baptist in Sherman, Ill. Now, the video presentation of the gospel – set in some of Illinois’ most historic courtrooms – is available through more than 770 Family Video stores across the country. And a recent translation project aims to make it available to Arabic-speaking people around the world.

The team behind the film probably would have been hard-pressed to imagine these developments when they began production on “God’s Courtroom” a few years ago. Kugler, an attorney by trade, first had the idea in the late 1980s when he was trying cases before a northern Illinois judge known for his fairness and precision.

Outside Judge Alan Cargerman’s courtroom, Kugler remembered, “People were very nonchalant, pompous often.” But when they stood before the judge, “Everything was very serious, somber, there was no messing around.”

The experience made Kugler wonder what it would be like when people one day stood before God, the ultimate judge. He began creating a presentation of the gospel based on principles and terminology used in the legal system.

Kugler eventually gave the presentation in some local churches in central Illinois, and it was at a Dairy Queen after one of those messages that the idea came to film “God’s Courtroom” in a courthouse. Several courthouses, actually.

Over a period of months, Kugler and his team shot the film at historical sites in Illinois, including some courthouses where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. In each segment of the one-hour film, Kugler gives some history of the site, and also explains a different element of the Gospel.

“Bruce Kugler’s analysis of the biblical and judiciary intersection is very powerful, and we are pleased to offer this DVD,” John A. Furton, Family Video’s vice president of purchasing, said in a statement. And, in keeping with Kugler’s commitment to offer the film to individuals and churches free of charge, the video is a free rental.

The evangelism tool’s reach also is extending outside the U.S. “God’s Courtroom” was dubbed in Arabic this summer by Nashat Filmon, executive director of the Palestinian Bible Society, who traveled to Illinois from his home in Jerusalem to give voice to the project. His organization will give the DVD’s to judges and lawyers in the Palestinian territories, he said, and also make it available on their website and in bookstores.

“When Bruce gave me the video ‘God’s Courtroom,’ I went and I watched it, and I liked it very much,” Filmon said. “I thought, ‘This is a straightforward message that’s coming from a lawyer, and it explains in a court setting what is to be expected.”

More than 20 countries have Arabic as their official language, Kugler acknowledged, representing millions of people who “have never heard that God's offers them a pardon from the penalty of their sin. This is the best news a person can ever be told.

“It is perplexing why many people in the United States have the opportunity to hear the Gospel dozens of times, but people living in Arabic speaking countries may have never heard the Gospel one time. We are praying that the Holy Spirit will use Arabic version of God’s Courtroom to impact millions of people.”

The film has been shown in the U.S. on the National Religious Broadcasters television network, as well as the TCT Network and Total Living Network. Kugler, a member of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, also has shared the message in Nicaragua, Argentina, India, Taiwan and China. It also has been dubbed in Spanish, and plans are in place for a Chinese version.

“The message crosses cultures because it’s the Word of God that impacts people’s hearts,” Kugler said. He gives God the credit for every outlet he finds to showcase “God’s Courtroom.”

“How is it possible that we could get a film aired on major networks around the nation, speak in different parts of the world, and have it in 770 video stores? 

“We can’t,” he admitted.

“This is a good example of taking a small project and really bathing it in prayer and fasting, and trying to do this the right way with the right motives, for the glory of God.”

“God’s Courtroom” is available for viewing and download at www.godscourtroom.org.


Brewton-Parker College SACSCOC accreditation under reconsideration

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. – Brewton-Parker College announced Sept. 30 that it remains an accredited member on probation of The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (“SACSCOC”).

“Yesterday, Brewton-Parker College was informed that the Appeals Committee of SACSCOC ordered a remand of the decision of the Board of Trustees of SACSCOC to remove Brewton-Parker College as a member,” reads a news release issued by the college, which is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

“Brewton-Parker College’s case will now go to the Committee on Compliance and Reports of SACSCOC for reconsideration. The effect of this decision is to continue SACSCOC’s accreditation of Brewton-Parker College as it existed before the June 19, 2014 vote of the Board of Trustees of SACSCOC.”

The news release said the SACSCOC “Appeals Committee found that Brewton-Parker College presented new material evidence demonstrating improvement in its financial position that warranted a remand and the continuation of its accreditation.”

The college accreditation organization will continue to review the new evidence in greater detail for compliance with SACSCOC’s standards, the release said.

“This decision by the appeals committee of SACSCOC is a validation of SACSCOC’s own processes and shows that the system works. We are thankful the appeals committee recognized what we knew all along – that Brewton-Parker College is a financially stable and viable institution of higher learning,” said Ergun Caner, Brewton-Parker College president.

Caner added, “This decision is the result of thousands of hours of work by the entire Brewton-Parker College community. This victory is shared, not only by our trustees, faculty, staff and students, but also the entire community of dedicated friends around us. The people of Mount Vernon, Ailey, Montgomery County, and the entire region stood by us. Today that trust was validated. Our students, faculty, staff and partners in the community who have stood by our side should know that we are confident that Brewton-Parker College will remain accredited by SACSCOC.”

Caner said that Brewton-Parker College continues to work closely and cooperatively with SACSCOC.

“Brewton-Parker College will continue to work closely with SACSCOC to remove Brewton-Parker College from probation. Brewton-Parker College will continue on its march to grow enrollment to record heights. The greatest legacy of Brewton-Parker College’s 110-year history is ahead. However, today we give thanks to God for this decision, for it was by His guidance that this positive decision was made.”

Brewton-Parker College, founded in 1904, has experienced financial difficulties experienced since the late 1990s. Over the last three years, Brewton-Parker College has taken steps to balance its operational budget, restructure its debt and cut its expenses.