Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Russell Moore: President Obama's actions on immigration issue 'unwise'

MooreWASHINGTON (BP) – President Obama's new executive actions to change immigration policy are unwise and threaten the growing consensus for reform, said the Southern Baptist Convention's lead ethicist.

Obama announced in prime time Nov. 20 his actions, which include most controversially a plan to protect nearly five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president's use of executive authority came after the Senate approved comprehensive immigration reform in the last Congress but the House of Representatives failed to do.

Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), said he disagreed with Obama's unilateral act. Moore noted he supports immigration reform, but the president's decision is an "unwise and counterproductive move."

Writing in a post for Time magazine online, Moore said, "It's because of my support for immigrants and for immigration reform that I think President Obama's executive actions are the wrong way to go.

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Missionsfest in Toledo draws volunteers from 11 states

Julie Walters
Woman's Missionary Union

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When Helen Henley, a member of Sunrise Baptist Church in Midland, Mich., heard Missionsfest would be in Toledo, Ohio, she “felt it was too close not to be a part.”

Henley was familiar with the city and the three-hour drive since her son had attended the University of Toledo in 2000-2004. He lived in downtown Toledo until 2007, just a few blocks away from her ministry assignment.

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Former International Mission Board missionary pleads guilty to wire fraud

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – Former Southern Baptist missionary Brady Nurse pleaded guilty Oct. 21 in a federal court to fraudulently obtaining approximately $300,000 in mission funds over a period of five years while working as a logistics and business coordinator for the International Mission Board (IMB) in Portugal.

Nurse, 37, who resigned as a missionary in January, could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and an order to make full restitution of the money he took. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2015, by U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer. 

Nurse and his wife Andrea were appointed IMB missionaries in March 2006. His wire fraud activity was discovered earlier this year by the mission board's internal auditing procedures. It was reported by the board's internal auditor and general counsel to the FBI, which began a months-long investigation resulting in federal charges against the Montana native. Nurse's plea agreement was announced Oct. 21 by Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond, Va., and FBI special agent Adam S. Lee after it was accepted by United States Magistrate Judge David J. Novak.

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SBC not 'third way' on divorce, Moore exclaims

NASHVILLE (BP) -- It is not inconsistent for a church to accept divorced and remarried members with "mercy and grace" but require homosexuals to leave their gay lifestyle before joining the congregation, Southern Baptists' lead ethicist said in response to arguments posed by the pastor of a church that was disfellowshipped from the Southern Baptist Convention because of its stance on homosexuality. 

Charging Southern Baptists with hypocrisy is valid in some respects because "the divorce culture" in churches is an indication that Baptists have embraced "elements of the sexual revolution," Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote in a blog post. "But divorce and remarriage is not, beyond that, applicable to the same-sex marriage debate." 

Moore's post answered arguments made in an Oct. 21 Huffington Post article by Danny Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, Calif. Acting on behalf of the SBC, its Executive Committee voted Sept. 23 to withdraw fellowship from New Heart, where some members including Cortez believe "same-sex marriage can be blessed by God."

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IMB's Platt reflects on listening, learning in meeting with missionaries

ASIA (BP) – A gathering of Southern Baptist missionaries grappling with what's working in missions – and what isn't – welcomed a new colleague to the strategic discussion: International Mission Board President David Platt.

The long-planned conference, held earlier this fall in Asia, came at an ideal time for Platt, 36. The influential pastor, mission mobilizer and "Radical" author was elected a few weeks earlier by IMB trustees to lead Southern Baptists' international mission enterprise. Now he's focused on absorbing the huge amount of knowledge required for his new job. The five-day gathering enabled him to meet face to face with missionaries working in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe -- something that might have taken him months or years to do otherwise.

"I was encouraged that the Lord orchestrated all of this, that He [brought] all these leaders together at this time of transition to be on the same page together, to study the Word together, to pray together, to worship together, to plan and work together," Platt said. "I walked away totally energized that God's doing something unique here – and just overwhelmed that I get to be a part of it."

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