Digest

Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...

Thursday
Apr162015

Colorado tells bakers it's OK to refuse Bible cakes

DENVER (BP) – Colorado officials have rejected discrimination claims by a man who was refused service at three bakeries because he requested cakes that included Bible verses calling homosexuality a sin.

Critics of the rulings by the Colorado Civil Rights Division argue that they are in sharp contrast to a CCRD decision in 2014 that a Christian baker cannot refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding ceremony.

Bill Jack, one of the founders of Worldview Academy which conducts Bible-based summer camps, had approached three Denver-area bakeries in March 2014 and asked for two cakes, both in the shape of an open Bible. He presented a drawing showing what he wanted on each: "God hates sin -- Psalm 45:7" and "Homosexuality is a detestable sin - Leviticus 18:22" on one cake; "God loves sinners" and "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us -- Romans 5:8" on the other. According to two TV news reports, Jack also asked that the first cake include an image of two groomsmen holding hands with a red "X" over them.

All three businesses -- Azucar Bakery, Le Sensual Bakery and Gateaux Pastries -- refused to make the cakes. Jack filed three claims of discrimination with the Colorado civil rights agency.

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Thursday
Apr162015

Same-sex marriage gap widens for evangelicals and culture

NASHVILLE (BP) – Americans who have gay or lesbian friends are twice as likely to say gay marriage should be legal as those who have none.

And more than half of Americans, meanwhile, say homosexuality is not sinful.

Such survey results place evangelicals increasingly in a minority position in American culture over same-sex relationships.

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Thursday
Apr162015

Global religious freedom draws leaders' appeal

WASHINGTON (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention's lead religious freedom advocate is part of a widely diverse, informal coalition urging Congress to strengthen protections for the rights of people of faith overseas.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, signed on to a letter sent April 14 to members of a House of Representatives subcommittee seeking their support for the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). The bill, which will update the original IRFA of 1998, is designed to enhance the United States' ability to promote religious freedom globally. It also will reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) through 2021.

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Wednesday
Apr152015

Ohio's rich Southern Baptist history

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) – "The ripest field for Southern Baptist work in the U.S.A."

That's how Ray Roberts, who would become the first executive secretary of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, described the Buckeye state in 1952. Over the next six decades, Roberts and other Ohio Southern Baptists proved the ripeness of their field by planting hundreds of churches, establishing three other Baptist state conventions in pioneer areas, building a network of Baptist ministries and leading untold thousands to faith in Christ.

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Wednesday
Apr152015

Floyd, 11 pastors to lead SBC 'Call to Prayer' in Columbus, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) – For an "epic night of prayer" during the Southern Baptist Convention, 11 pastors have been named by SBC President Ronnie Floyd to help lead the Tuesday evening session, June 16, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in the Ohio capital.

Floyd has titled the session "A National Call for Prayer to All Southern Baptists for the Next Great Awakening and to Reach the World for Christ" on the opening night of the June 16-17 SBC annual meeting.

"We will join together in the same room and around the world via technology for this one epic night of prayer," Floyd wrote April 13 in his SBC President's Page column.

Two former SBC presidents, Jack Graham and James Merritt, will be among the evening's leaders. Graham is senior pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church; Merritt is lead pastor of the Atlanta-area Cross Pointe Church.

"It is time to call out to God for the next Great Awakening and to reach the world for Christ," Floyd, pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, wrote. "On Tuesday night, June 16, we will give the entire evening session of the SBC Annual Meeting to this national prayer gathering. …

Floyd at the 2014 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention."We will gather to experience the presence of God based upon the Word of God. We will be challenged briefly by some of America's great pastors, then launch into prayer sessions in response to God and His Word. We will also express our worship and praise to God together through music and singing."

Floyd also noted, "One of the unique moments of the evening will be when we embrace and celebrate our ethnic diversity, which may also involve moments of repentance and reconciliation. Each of us needs to be in this experience together, letting God do a powerful work in each of our lives and churches. Southern Baptists must lead the way in embracing and celebrating our ethnic diversity."

Encouraging messengers to shift their plans for dinner and fellowship in order to be in attendance, Floyd urged, "Please let nothing keep you from this extraordinary night of prayer together."

He also noted, "If you live within driving distance of Columbus, Ohio, and can't attend the entire conference, at least come for Tuesday night."

The overall theme for the two-day annual meeting in Columbus is "Great Awakening: Clear Agreement, Visible Union, Extraordinary Prayer."

In addition to Graham and Merritt, other leaders (in alphabetical order) scheduled for the session are Timmy Chavis, senior pastor of Bear Swamp Baptist Church in Pembroke, N.C., and chairman of the SBC Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council; Steve Gaines, senior pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church; David Galvan, lead pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista - Nueva Vida in Dallas; J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C.; Paul Kim, pastor emeritus of Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass.; Vance Pittman, senior pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas; Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Penscola, Fla.; Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Fla.; and K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia and president of the Natiional African American Fellowship.

Julio Arriola, global worship pastor for Cross Church, will lead the music, along with the church's choir and band.