Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Florida's 51/49 CP split called 'great sacrifice'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP) - The Florida Baptist Convention’s unprecedented decision to begin giving more of its Cooperative Program (CP) dollars to the Southern Baptist Convention than to the state signals a sacrificial commitment to the Great Commission, newly elected Executive Director J. Thomas Green told Baptist Press.

Green, who began serving June 8 as executive director/treasurer of the convention, has pledged beginning in 2016 to send 51 percent of CP gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention for international and national causes, and to keep only 49 percent within Florida for Baptist missions and ministries.

"I believe we are in the midst of an amazing moment of ministry for the church and we must respond in a sacrificial manner," Green said. "The Great Commission and the Great Commandment compel us to respond with generosity in order to reach the world for Christ."

If 2016 CP gifts received in Florida mirror the 2015 budgeted amount of $28,800,000, the funding shift would spell an additional $2.88 million in gifts to the SBC Executive Committee, with $1,445,000 of the increase going to the International Mission Board, and $656,000 to the North American Mission Board, according to state figures.

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Cleveland's true hope better than NBA title


Cleveland's Lebron JamesCLEVELAND (BP) – The city of Cleveland has gone 50 years without a championship, the longest drought of any U.S. city with three major sports teams. NFL legend Jim Brown and the Browns gave Cleveland their most recent championship, and that was back in 1964 when G.I. Joe dolls first hit store shelves.

Now, the city of Cleveland and the Cavaliers stand just three wins away from capturing that elusive title. But only Christ can bring Ohio the hope it truly needs, said pastor David Gray, who leads First Baptist Church, Garrettsville, located about 35 miles from Akron, LeBron James' hometown, and 45 miles from Cleveland.

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App available for 2015 SBC meeting in Columbus, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) – Messengers to the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting can stay informed through a free smartphone app featuring schedules, maps, alerts, speakers, newsfeeds, the "Book of Reports," the "Daily Bulletin" and much more.

The app will be available for iPhone, iPad, and Android users and can be downloaded by typing in "SBC Annual Meetings" in the device's app store. Once the app is downloaded, it will prompt you to install the information for the 2015 meeting. This year's preferred Twitter hashtag will be #sbc15. Messengers also can follow @SBCMeeting, @BaptistPress, @SBCLife, @sbccp, and @SBCPastorsconf for the latest annual meeting updates.

Developed by Core-Apps, the app will include:

-- Push alerts of up-to-date news, such as any changes in the meeting schedule;

-- The programs for the SBC Pastors' Conference and the annual meeting;

-- An alphabetized list of Pastors' Conference and annual meeting speakers, including their scheduled speaking times;

-- A newsfeed of Baptist Press news stories and photos covering Crossover, the SBC annual meeting and related meetings that take place during the week.

-- PDF versions of the Book of Reports, the Daily Bulletin, and SBC LIFE;

-- Scheduled times for seminary luncheons and other affinity groups ancillary to the annual meeting;

-- Twitter stream discussions about the annual meeting. Use the hashtag #sbc15 to join the conversation;

-- An interactive map of the exhibit hall and messenger-friendly local restaurants;

-- A list of exhibitors, including contact information for each exhibitor and the exhibitor's floor location;

-- A list of Metro Columbus Baptist Association churches and church-type missions, with a map showing where each congregation is located, and

-- A "friends" icon where users can keep up to date with their friends and send them notes. (Users are required to fill out a brief profile.)




SBC reports more churches, fewer people

NASHVILLE (BP) – Southern Baptists are adding more churches but serving fewer members who are giving fewer dollars, 2014 data compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources shows.

The number of cooperating churches within the Southern Baptist Convention rose for the 15th consecutive year, but the churches lost more than 200,000 members, the biggest one-year decline since 1881, according to the Annual Church Profile (ACP) compiled by LifeWay in cooperation with Baptist state conventions. Average attendance, baptisms and giving also declined.

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Abedini beating intensifies calls for release

AbediniTEHRAN, Iran (BP) – American pastor Saeed Abedini has been "viciously" beaten in the Iranian prison where he is being held for his Christian faith, the American Center for Law and Justice reported June 10, prompting renewed calls for Abedini's release as a condition of any nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran.

"It is crucial to speak out for Saeed as we approach the June 30th deadline between the United States and Iran," Abedini's wife Naghmeh said in a June 10 Facebook post. She added June 30 "is also Saeed and I's 11th year anniversary."

Naghmeh Abedini is scheduled to address the Pastors' Wives Conference in Columbus, Ohio, June 15 preceding the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 16-17. She will also briefly address the SBC Pastors' Conference June 15, delivering an update on her husband. Pastors' Conference attendees will then pray for her and Saeed.

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