Stories of interest to Arkansas Baptists ...


Southwestern Seminary receives approval to offer fully online M.Div., MACE

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has received approval from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to offer its Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE) degrees completely online, effective Aug. 8, 2013. The decision from the national accrediting agency removes residency restrictions on the seminary’s two most prominent degree programs, making them more accessible to students around the world.

“How grateful we are that the Association of Theological Schools has made it possible for our M.Div. and MACE degrees to be available worldwide to those in search of theological education,” seminary president Paige Patterson said in response to the decision.

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Southern Seminary emphasizes spiritual health over academics to begin semester

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) – The importance of the spiritual health of seminary students and their familes should precede academics, speakers urged at an Aug. 22 conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Jeremy Pierre, who recently became the dean of students at Southern Seminary, introduced the all-day Personal and Family Vigilance Conference, explaining the importance of students taking care of their spiritual life – even while in seminary.  

“Following Christ first in your personal life and in your family is not automatic,” said Pierre, who is also assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Seminary. “It takes effort and it takes vigilance, grace enabled effort and vigilance, but vigilance nonetheless. We don't want any of our students to shipwreck their faith through the negligence of their soul, because following Jesus while studying him is not automatic.”

Heath Lambert, associate professor of biblical counseling at Boyce College, undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached about the dangers of pornography during the Aug. 22 Personal and Family Vigilance Conference.

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NAMB encourages churches to honor pastors during Pastor Appreciation Month in October

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -– With Pastor Appreciation Month on the horizon, the North American Mission Board is providing laypeople with resources to encourage and support their churches' shepherds.

"NAMB's mission is to penetrate lostness in North America," NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. "Local pastors are the ones who lead churches to focus on that mission. We strongly encourage every local congregation to celebrate and affirm their pastors because we believe their role is critical in the expansion of the Kingdom."

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Arkansas pastor leads senior pastor prayer effort set for Sept. 30-Oct. 1

SOUTHLAKE, Texas (BP) – Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd is leading a group of 47 Southern Baptist pastors in inviting senior pastors to participate in A Call to Pray for Revival and Awakening Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in Southlake, Texas.

Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, announced the 24-hour event Aug. 14.

Floyd"On behalf of our invitation team, I am inviting you to join us in a prayer gathering of senior pastors from all sizes of churches across America, for one purpose: praying together for revival and awakening!" Floyd said in a written statement. "We will focus on praying for pastors, local churches and our nation to experience a mighty move of God that will be a catalyst for revival and awakening."

The team of pastors has committed to attend the event in its entirety, Floyd said.

"This is not a 'come and go' event or a place to 'come and be seen,'" Floyd said, "nor is it a denominational or political meeting. It is a serious spiritual experience of prayer with pastors nationally. Due to our commonality of need, we are focusing on Southern Baptist pastors."

Those not attending the event should pray nonetheless, Floyd said. 

"Pray for us in that 24-hour period of time," Floyd wrote in a letter to Baptist convention state executives. "We are in [a] desperate time. All of us want to see our pastors, churches and nation experience a mighty move of God."

Floyd encourages pastors to register as early as possible due to a limited number of available rooms at the Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square, the site of the event. To reserve a hotel room, call the hotel at 800-445-8667 to receive the group rate. A $75 stipend is available to offset hotel cost, financed by a special gift from a supporter, whose name was not announced.  

Registration is free by contacting Cross Church at 479-751-4523 or gaylao@crosschurch.com.

Joining Floyd on the invitation team are, in alphabetical order, senior pastors John Avant, First Baptist Church Concord in Knoxville, Tenn.; Bart Barber, First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas; Kie Bowman, Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; Mac Brunson, First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; Matt Carter, Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas; Michael Catt, Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.; Frank Cox, North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga.;

Bill Elliff, The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Ark.; Ernest Easley, Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.; Grant Ethridge, Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va.; Jonathan Falwell, Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.; Danny Forshee, Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; Bruce Frank, Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, N.C.; Steve Gaines, Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn.; David Galvan, New Life Church in Dallas; Blake Gideon, Edmond's First Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla.; Mike Hamlet, First Baptist Church North Spartanburg in Spartanburg, S.C.; Chip Henderson, Pine Lake Church in Brandon, Miss.; Alex Himaya, The Church at Battle Creek in Broken Arrow, Okla.;

Robert Jeffress, First Baptist Church in Dallas; Tony Lambert, Riverside Baptist Church in Denver; Drew Landry, First Baptist Church Spotswood in Fredericksburg, Va.; Richard Mark Lee, First Baptist Church in McKinney, Texas; Ed Litton, First Baptist Church North Mobile in Mobile, Ala.; Fred Lowery, First Baptist Church in Bossier City, La.;

Gregg Matte, First Baptist Church in Houston; Scott Maze, North Richland Hills Baptist Church in North Richland Hills, Texas; Bob McCartney, First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas; Byron McWilliams, First Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas; John Meador, First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas; James Merritt, Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga.;  

Bob Pearle, Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas; Vance Pittman, Hope Church in Las Vegas; Clint Pressley, Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte; Willy Rice, Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla.; Bob Roberts, Northwood Church in Keller, Texas; Jimmy Scroggins, First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Josh Smith, MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas; Glynn Stone, Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas;

Brandon Thomas, Keystone Church in Keller, Texas; Eric Thomas, First Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va.; Ted Traylor, Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.; Terry Turner, Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas; A.B. Vines, New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif.; Hayes Wicker, First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla.; and Don Wilton, First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C.


Russian gay 'propaganda' ban stirs controversy

SOCHI, Russia (BP) – Vodka, boycotts and presidential statements are swirling around a new Russian law banning gay "propaganda" passed ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

At issue is a law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in July that outlaws the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" and levies fines for holding gay pride rallies or informing minors about the gay community. Foreign violators may be thrown in jail for 15 days and then deported. 

A new Russian law outlawing the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" is casting a cloud over the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. This file photo of the Olympic countdown clock was taken when there was just one year left to prepare before the 22nd Winter Olympic Games.Political leaders, athletes and gay rights activists have condemned the law, with President Obama saying he had "no patience" with countries that discriminate against homosexuals. 

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