Digest

Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...

Friday
Jan082016

More churches seeing need for volunteer screening

NASHVILLE (BP) – Nearly half of the background checks requested by churches through LifeWay's program with backgroundchecks.com reveal some type of criminal offense.

Most of those are minor incidents such as speeding tickets, but 21 percent of inquiries discovered misdemeanors or more serious crimes, LifeWay's Jennie Taylor said.

Since 2008, when LifeWay began its relationship with backgroundchecks.com, more than 11,300 churches and religious organizations have conducted nearly 230,000 background checks using the program. In the past year, more than 2,100 churches have signed up through the LifeWay ONESource program.

CrossPointe Fellowship in Holmes Beach, Fla., has been using backgroundchecks.com for five years. Sandy Watts, ministry assistant at the church, said, "We feel it is vital to be able to assure parents who entrust their children to us that the adults caring for and supervising their children are safe and have a clear background."

Watts said most of their checks returned clear, but the few that have been flagged allowed church leadership to talk more deeply with the individuals and sometimes suggest other areas of the church that might be better suited for their service.

Chris Smith, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Beckley, W.Va., said his church began using the service last year to screen volunteers for their AWANA clubs and the congregation was "eager to participate."

"We wanted to make sure the children are safe and the parents can have confidence in our volunteer staff," he said. "Having the information available to the leadership has given folks a greater sense of safety for the children, the youth and adults."

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Wednesday
Jan062016

Chainsaw cross conveys hope after tornado onslaught in Texas

Disaster relief volunteer Rick Evans of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention carves a cross into the stump of a tree downed by one of the Dec. 26 tornadoes in the metro Dallas area.ROWLETT, Texas (BP) – Three weeks after Shane Pruitt was a guest preacher at Bellville First Baptist near Houston, one of its disaster relief teams assisted Pruitt's family in the wake of devastating tornadoes that swept through the metro Dallas area the day after Christmas.

Pruitt, who serves as director of missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, recounted that he was en route to a preaching engagement when his wife called to tell him that tornado sirens were going off in their Rowlett suburb.

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Wednesday
Jan062016

Angel Tree adopts new statement of faith policy, may cost ministry volunteers

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (BP) – In a move that could cost the ministry an untold number of volunteers, Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program is requiring its coordinators to affirm its statement of faith. The requirement, which became official Jan. 1, is an effort to ensure theological alignment between volunteers and the program that, for 33 years, has delivered gifts and the Gospel to inmates and their children.

The requirement is proactive and not in response to a specific problem, Prison Fellowship vice president Sara Nagelvoort Marlin told WORLD. But the organization's statement of faith does put it at odds with liberal churches that may share Prison Fellowship's conviction to help prisoners and their families but not its stand on issues of life, marriage and the inerrancy of scripture. Angel Tree's volunteer coordinators represent 7,700 U.S. churches.

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Tuesday
Jan052016

2,700 of Fanny Crosby's lost lyrics were overlooked in an archive, unsung and unpublished

NASHVILLE (BP) – Fanny Crosby's hymns have impacted lives for Christ worldwide for generations, but until recently 2,700 of them were overlooked in an archive, unsung and unpublished.

Now on the album "Blessed Assurance: The New Hymns of Fanny Crosby," some of those forgotten lyrics have come to life through today's worship writers and singers, introducing a new generation to one of the most substantive hymn writers of all time.

Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), undaunted by lifelong blindness, was "a songwriter for the people," Adrian Thompson, vice president of song and artist development at Integrity Music, told Baptist Press. "She wrote songs that the common man really grasped."

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Tuesday
Jan052016

Idaho cowboy churches fill ministry void

POCATELLO, Idaho (BP) – A rancher in eastern Idaho spends two months each spring living in his rustic calving barn. He "calfnaps" when he can, since he's awake at least every two hours 24/7, checking on the birthing process, helping when needed.

He doesn't like to miss church, though, so perhaps that's why he may choose to wear the same jeans, boots, shirt, vest and hat he wore while helping a mama cow or her calf, with vestiges of his work smeared, splattered and stained in various places on his attire.

"He couldn't do that in a traditional church, but nobody in a cowboy church thinks anything of it," said David Kite, who pastors two churches in eastern Idaho and has planted two others there.

"The cowboy church movement is getting strong," Kite said. "It's meeting a need for people not comfortable in a traditional church."

There are similarities as well as differences between these cowboy churches and other traditional Southern Baptist congregations. Among similarities, both support giving to missions through the Cooperative Program, the mechanism Southern Baptist churches use to undergird state, national and international ministries and missions.

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