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1,132 International Mission Board missionaries, staff accept VRI, HRO

PlattNASHVILLE (BP) – The International Mission Board (IMB) announced Feb. 24 that 983 missionaries and 149 stateside staff have transitioned outside the mission entity during the past six months as a result of its voluntary retirement and resignation programs.

IMB President David Platt told trustees the organization now expects to operate a balanced budget for 2017 due to its 2015-16 organizational "reset" processes and the generosity of Southern Baptists who have given sacrificially.

"IMB is now in a much healthier financial position," Platt said during IMB's Feb. 22-24 meeting near Richmond, Va. "Due to increased giving from Southern Baptist churches, Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving are trending upward."

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Ouachita student lives on through gift of sight

LITTLE ROCK  – Though her life was cut short in March of 2014 at age 21, Shelby Seabaugh, a junior at Ouachita Baptist University and daughter of an Arkansas Baptist pastor, lives on through the gift of sight through the Arkansas Lions Eye Bank at UAMS.

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Jim Mooney to lead Baptist foundation's investments

Leigh Anne Bowick
Southern Baptist Foundation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – Jim Mooney has joined the Southern Baptist Foundation as vice president of investments, with responsibilities for development, maintenance and oversight of entity's investments and its investment managers.

Mooney, 47, comes to the foundation with 20-plus years in the investment field, specializing in market analysis, manager research, portfolio management and asset allocation.

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IMB transfers Nazareth school to local believers

IMB representative John Brady (left) and Nazareth Baptist School officials sign the deed transferring the school’s facilities to local ownership. The school dates back nearly 90 years to Baptist work in the former British Mandate of Palestine.NAZARETH, Israel (BP) – The International Mission Board has transferred the title of Nazareth Baptist School's facilities in Israel to the institution's nonprofit.

Nazareth Baptist School, though started by then-Foreign Mission Board (now IMB) personnel, has been financially and administratively independent from IMB for nearly 30 years. NBS has established its own nonprofit separate from the IMB, with the transfer of the deed bringing the school into full local ownership.

The transfer ceremony took place at the Nazareth school on Dec. 20. Botrus Mansour, NBS general director, described it as a "sweet gathering" of IMB personnel, NBS staff and representatives from the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel.

Among the speakers were Mansour, IMB Vice President of Global Engagement John Brady and current NBS board chairman Najed Azzam. They each emphasized their gratefulness for the school's long relationship with IMB as well as their eager expectation for the school's future.

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Scalia death clouds abortion, religious liberty cases

ScaliaWASHINGTON (BP) – The death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia not only brings about a battle over replacing him and elevates the Supreme Court as an issue in the presidential election, but it likely will affect important cases about life and liberty in this term.

Scalia, 79, was found dead in his room the morning of Feb. 13 while on a quail hunting trip at a west Texas resort. He reportedly died in his sleep.

While President Obama and the Republican majority quarrel over whether the Senate will act to confirm whomever he nominates, the eight remaining justices will be considering cases left in this term. The even number of court members offers the possibility, even probability, of tie votes.

One of the highly significant cases that potentially could result in a tie vote involves abortion, and another impacts religious freedom. The high court will hear oral arguments March 2 regarding a Texas law regulating abortion doctors and clinics. Oral arguments are scheduled March 23 in a challenge to the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate to religious nonprofit organizations under the Affordable Care Act.

A 4-4 tie in either case – or any other case – would result in the lower court's decision remaining in effect in its jurisdiction. The possibility of the Supreme Court rearguing 4-4 cases after a ninth justice has joined the court – something that has been done at times in the past – has been raised as well.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, acknowledged the gravity of Scalia's loss and its timing.

"His death comes at a time when so much hangs in the legal balance, especially on questions of religious freedom," Moore told Baptist Press in written comments. "Antonin Scalia was more than a brilliant jurist. He was a man of conviction who stood, often alone, for the permanent things."

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