Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Floyd delivers opening House prayer

WASHINGTON - Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, who was recently elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), opened the U.S. House of Representatives in prayer Thursday, June 12.

Floyd was invited to give the prayer by U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Rogers).

The Cross Church pastor's prayer was delivered one day following the conclusion of the SBC Annual Meeting, June 10-11 in Baltimore.

Floyd's prayer is recorded in the official record of the U.S. House of Representative. It reads:

Our God, as Your prophet Daniel spoke to the king in his day with humility and honor as recorded in the Book of Daniel 4:37: "The God of Heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory."

Lord, as these gifted men and women serve the people of the United States, may they know You have them here by divine appointment, giving to them the influence, strength, and recognition they receive.

As they make decisions that influence the entire world, I pray that You will fill them with supernatural insight, compassionate sensitivity, convictional kindness, and abounding wisdom.

The needs are many, and the tasks are overwhelming. They need You, and they need each other, in order to provide hope for the American people and the entire world. So use them today to change the world for Your glory and for Your Name, I pray.



Hindus urge new SBC president to promote dialogue

Hindus hope Ronnie Floyd, newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), will promote interfaith dialogue in the United States and the world, according to a press release from Hindu statesman Rajan Zed.

The press release announced that Zed said in a recent statement made in Nevada that he hopes the SBC, under Floyd, will work for promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperating in common causes such as peace, ecological responsibility, social development and human rights with different religions and denominations. Zed added that dialogue has brought mutual enrichment and helped with the overcoming of prejudices that have been passed down from previous generations.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that religion is a complex component of human life and that dialogue helps people see interconnections and interdependencies between religions.

According to the release, Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world and has about 1 billion adherents, about 3 million of whom are in the United States.


GuideStone announces new enrollment guidelines for medical Personal Plans

DALLAS — GuideStone has announced new guidelines for enrollment in its medical Personal Plans, effective July 1.

Churches and ministries eligible to offer GuideStone’s medical Personal Plans will be able to add new employees and their families to the Personal Plans within 60 days of employment.

For the first half of 2014, due to the uncertainties in the health care market as a result of the Affordable Care Act, GuideStone imposed temporary guidelines that limited enrollment to participants experiencing HIPAA special enrollment events, such as marriage, birth, adoption or loss of coverage.

Under the new guidelines, new employees of an eligible Personal Plan church or ministry can enter the health plan within 60 days of employment or HIPAA special enrollment event. Further, covered individuals may continue to add dependents to the health plan due to such events.

Church employees who began their employment between January 1 and July 1, 2014 may enroll themselves and eligible family members through August 1, 2014.

“The Affordable Care Act has created unprecedented changes and challenges for all health plans, including church health plans,” said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins.

“GuideStone has been diligently seeking legislative, regulatory and judicial recognition of the unique nature and needs of church plans, with the continued goal of keeping the plan strong and stable. At the same time, GuideStone continues to explore ways of providing coverage to new enrollees in a manner consistent with that goal. GuideStone has determined that this change will enable us to balance ministry objectives with good stewardship," he said.

- From a GuideStone news release


Hearing set for Glorieta lawsuit

A judge in New Mexico has scheduled a hearing on pending motions regarding the suit filed by an Arkansas couple who claim LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention lacked legal authority to sell Glorieta Conference Center.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Hayes Scott set the hearing for 9 a.m. June 19.

The court will consider a motion from the plaintiffs, Kirk and Susie Tompkins of Little Rock, for an emergency hearing to grant a temporary retraining order blocking all construction by Glorieta 2.0 at the conference center.

The court also will consider multiple motions to dismiss filed by defendants named in the suit, who assert lack of jurisdiction and standing, failure to state a claim and improper service of process.

The Tompkins family seeks $400,000 for loss of their vacation home built on property leased from Glorieta. They want an additional $12 million to be divided among about 65 homeowners who built or purchased homes on Glorieta property secured by what the couple says were understood to be perpetually recurring leases. - The Baptist Standard



Lottie Moon offering for international missions reaches record $154 million

In Sweden, IMB worker Anissa Haney (left) meets with Linda Hamfors for Bible study. Struggling with addiction and spiritual questions, Linda approached Anissa after a musical performance and asked if they could talk more. Today, the young Swedish woman is a follower of Jesus. The 2013 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and gifts through the Cooperative Program enabled Anissa to be there when Linda, searching for truth in a highly secularized society, was ready to hear it. IMB PhotoRICHMOND, Va. (BP) – Southern Baptists gave an unprecedented $154 million to the 2013 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, breaking the record for the largest total in the offering's 125-year history.

The 2013 offering, finalized June 5, reached $154,057,852.36. The total represents an increase of nearly $4.8 million over 2012, or 3.2 percent. It tops the previous record, $150.4 million in 2007, by more than $3.6 million, and marks the fourth increase since 2008.

"This gives us an opportunity to reflect on the incredible generosity of Southern Baptists over many years," IMB President Tom Elliff said. "The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering represents well over half of our budget each year, so those who give sacrificially and out of concern for the lost can be assured that an enormous portion of all that happens overseas can be directly tied to their support. 

"It's estimated that close to 1 billion people living now are very likely to go through life without ever hearing the Gospel in such a fashion that they can understand it and respond to it in faith," Elliff said. "Our missionaries are 'chasers after darkness.' We're looking for those dark corners of the world where the light of the Gospel has yet to be shed so we can get the message of Christ into the hearts of people who need so desperately to hear about it."

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