Southern Baptists share witness at Bikes, Blues & BBQ in northwest Arkansas 

Caleb Yarbrough

Arkansas Baptist News

FAYETTEVILLE – Hundreds of thousands of motorcycle riders converged on northwest Arkansas Sept. 23-26 to take part in Bikes, Blues and BBQ (BBB), one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the country. Southern Baptists from across Arkansas and beyond used the event as an opportunity to share the gospel of Christ.

Now in its 16th year, BBB is held each fall. The rally bills itself as “the largest motorcycle rally in the United States benefitting local charities.” It was estimated that 2014’s rally saw more than 400,000 visitors to Fayetteville and surrounding communities.

Due to BBB, for four days each year, Fayetteville becomes Arkansas’ largest city, and arguably, its largest mission field. As in years past, Arkansas Baptists partnered with Baptists from multiple other states in ministering to the mass of bikers and onlookers.

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Engage24: a day of gospel conversations

Ronnie Floyd
Cross Church

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, urges Baptists to participate Oct. 15 in the Engage24 day of one-on-one gospel conversations. Additionally in the Southern Baptist Convention, Personal Evangelism Commitment Day is Oct. 4.

SPRINGDALE (BP) – According to research by the Barna Group, only 52 percent of evangelicals shared their faith with someone in the past year. In a recent LifeWay Research study, 48 percent said spiritual matters do not tend to come up in their everyday conversations.

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Freedom From Religion attacks Auburn's FCA director, team chaplain

Neisha Roberts
The Alabama Baptist

AUBURN, Ala. (BP) – Bearing the weight and responsibilities of three positions – Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) director, team chaplain and state director for Urban Ministries for FCA – Chette Williams has spent the past 16 years caring for Auburn University athletes as a father-figure, confidant and friend, being a former Auburn football player himself.

But according to a letter sent Aug. 18 to Auburn President Jay Gogue, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) says having a team chaplain leads to failure to "properly protect ... student athletes' rights of conscience and poses a high degree of risk of discrimination" for those who don't want to participate or hear what Williams has to say.

FFRF, based in Madison, Wisconsin, claims it operates to "promote the constitutional separation between state and church" and accuses Auburn of giving Williams "special privileges and unrestricted access because he is a Christian clergyman."

Not just privileges

It is true, Williams is a Christian. And it is true, he does go to practices, travels with the football team, holds weekly FCA meetings on Monday nights, teaches devotions and meets individually with players. But those are things he wants to do; they aren't just "special privileges."

"My hope and dream is that every one of these kids, coaches and all who are involved in athletics will come to Christ," Williams told The Alabama Baptist in 1999 when he came on staff at Auburn.

He earned his master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and was ordained to preach in 1988. He later served as co-pastor of New Song Baptist Church, Mobile, and pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church, New Orleans.

Office questioned

Besides being football team chaplain, Williams serves as FCA director, a position he's held since 1999 when then-Coach Tommy Tuberville helped initiate Williams' position with FCA.

Williams is paid by FCA and works in an office within the athletic department's student development center. The FFRF letter accused the university of giving Williams an office inside the university's Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"It makes no difference if the chaplain is unofficial, not school-sponsored or a volunteer," the letter stated. "Chaplains are given access to the team as a means for coaches to impose religion, usually Christianity, on their players."

But according to Auburn players, Williams is a welcomed addition to the team and campus.

Former defensive back Rodney Crayton told The Alabama Baptist in a previous interview, "(Williams) can relate to what we're going through. Even the really bad guys respect Chette. They act differently around him."

At press time, no other letters were filed against Auburn.



Ark. native Barrett Baber awes coaches during 'The Voice' audition

Former Ouachita Baptist University student Barrett Baber won over the hearts and ears of all four coaches on the Sept. 21 episode of “The Voice.” Baber chose country music superstar Blake Shelton as his coach.

The vocal competition, in its ninth season, is hosted by Carson Daly and consists of five stages of competition. During the first stage – the “blind auditions” – coaches face away from the stage and only swivel their chairs to face a performer if they like what they hear. If more than one coach does so, the musician then chooses which coach’s “team” he or she would like to be on.

While some contestants only earned minimal favor from the coaches, Baber had all four coaches spinning their chairs to face him within the first 30 seconds of his performance of “Angel Eyes.”

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Florida Baptist Convention to reduce staff by 47 percent

LEESBURG, Fla. (BP) – A reorganization of the Florida Baptist Convention staff that reduces the number of employees statewide by 47 percent – from the 115 currently employed to 61 employees – was approved by the State Board of Missions, Sept. 18 at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center.

The reorganization and downsizing was the fulfillment of a promise made by Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green on May 29 after being elected to the post. He stressed the need to have a responsive, lean missions organization that is decentralized, regionalized and personalized.

The downsizing will make it possible to send 51 percent of the proposed 2016 Cooperative Program Budget to the Southern Baptist Convention – a nearly 10 percent increase – and ultimately "put more missionary families on the field," he said.

The new structure is comprised of five major program groups -- Executive Director-Treasurer Office, Next Generation, Regional Catalysts, Mission and Ministries, and Support Services -- reflecting an effort to streamline and decentralize the convention staff to more effectively provide ministry support to local churches and associations.

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