Gaines 2nd nominee for SBC president

TENNESSEE PASTOR Steve Gaines is expected to be the second nominee for president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) when messengers in St. Louis later this year.

Gaines' nomination is the second to be announced for the SBC Annual Meeting. J.D. Greear's nomination was announced March 2. Greear, 42, is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Georgia pastor Johnny Hunt said March 9 that he plans to nominate Gaines, who has pastored Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., for the past 11 years. 

"Steve struggled with this nomination as he has always believed this office should seek the man," Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said in a news release stating his intention to nominate Gaines during the SBC Annual Meeting June 14-15 in St. Louis.

"With such a passionate desire for spiritual revival in our churches and nation, and knowing him to be a man of deep intense prayer, it brings joy to my heart to nominate Dr. Gaines."

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Wheeless to chair WBC education program

WALNUT RIDGE – Charlotte Wheeless, of Powhatan, has been tapped to serve as chair of the Williams Teacher Education Program (WTEP) at Williams Baptist College (WBC).

Wheeless, a Williams graduate who has taught at the college since 2009, will assume her new duties this summer.

“WBC is the place I learned what it means to be an accomplished teacher. I am passionate about the impact the Williams Teacher Education Program has to educate not only great teachers, but leaders in the field of education,” Wheeless said.

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Budget shortfalls hamper 3 in 10 churches surveyed

NASHVILLE (BP) – When it comes to finances, the new normal for many American churches seems to be "just getting by."

A third of Protestant senior pastors say their church's giving was under budget in 2015, according to LifeWay Research.

One in five saw their finances decline.

Overall, about half of pastors say the economy has negatively affected their churches.

Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research, says pastors are still uneasy about their church's finances.

"Wages grew in 2015 and inflation and unemployment remained low," McConnell said, "yet the financial picture for many churches did not improve."

LifeWay Research has polled Protestant pastors about their churches and the economy since 2009. During that time, pastors reported the sluggish economy's toll on their churches has lessened.

In October 2010, most pastors (80 percent) said the economy negatively impacted their church. That number dropped to 64 percent in 2012 and then 56 percent by 2014.

The most recent telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors found 51 percent said the economy is hurting their church – the lowest total since LifeWay began researching the topic. One in 8 (13 percent) say the economy had a positive effect on their church.

About 3 in 10 pastors (32 percent) say their church failed to make budget. That's an improvement over 2010 (46 percent), according to LifeWay Research, but an increase over 2012 (22 percent) in budget shortfalls.

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'The Young Messiah' movie 'thought-provoking'

RALEIGH, N.C. – "The Young Messiah" movie, which debuts in theaters March 11, has received 3.5 out of 5 stars from Faith Driven Consumer (FDC).

Subsequently, the film will likely resonate well with a faith audience, according to FDC.

"The Young Messiah" tells the story of Jesus as a young boy, taking the audience along His journey of self-discovery in dangerous, Roman-occupied Judea.  

“As Easter approaches, Hollywood is rolling out faith content with a pace and frequency that has not been seen in a generation. A vast audience – one which has been largely underserved – is finally being offered the choices they have been seeking, and filmmakers will continue to be richly rewarded,” said Chris Stone, FDC founder.

“Focus Features’ The Young Messiah is very thought-provoking. It offers audiences a glimpse into the hostile and dangerous environment in which Jesus was raised, and offers context for the account of His life and ministry as presented in the Gospels. While theologians and Christians alike will certainly debate some of the choices the filmmakers made, that conversation is worth having, and would not have been sparked without this engaging film," he added.

Faith Driven Consumer's Faith-Friendly Film Reviews are based on five core criteria: Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance; Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships; Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations, Family Viewing Suitability, and Entertainment Value.


Array of Baptists embrace presidential contenders

NASHVILLE (BP) – The campaign trail is cutting an ever-widening swath through Southern Baptist notables.

In short:

– Paige Patterson is among the Southern Baptists on a Ted Cruz religious liberty advisory board; R. Albert Mohler Jr. is on a Marco Rubio pro-life advisory board; and Rick Warren is on a Rubio religious liberty advisory board.

– Cruz has been endorsed by Jerry Johnson, president of National Religious Broadcasters, and by his Houston pastor, Gregg Matte of First Baptist Church.

– Donald Trump now has former candidate Mike Huckabee's daughter as one of his senior advisers.

– Ohio Gov. John Kasich has garnered endorsements from former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and from Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.

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