Top stories

Pastors need friends to stand with them, Hammond tells associational missionaries

FORSYTH, Ga. – Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. is reminding associational missionaries of the need to stand with pastors who are facing the hardships that come with life in ministry. “These days are difficult,” Hammond told associational missionaries gathered at Maynard Baptist Church in Forsyth on Tuesday. “We need each other like never before.”
Blackshear First Baptist sees 19 salvations, 28 rededications at venison supper
BLACKSHEAR, Ga. – Spontaneous revivals that sparked salvation decisions across Georgia in 2022 have carried over into the new year with 19 people making professions of faith at a venison supper in Blackshear. Another 28 people recommitted their lives to Christ at the event, said Justin Gambrell, pastor at First Baptist Church in Blackshear.
Georgia BCMs to get new facilities on 5 university campuses
SUWANEE, Ga. – The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has entered into a “revolutionary” ground lease deal with private investors to construct new facilities for Baptist Collegiate Ministries at five state universities with the possibility of expanding to additional campuses in the future.
At Georgia Tech, Eric Swenson seeks to impact campus and world for Christ
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech is known for its elite Engineering College and continues to be one of the top public institutions in the nation. Based on information dated September 18, 2021, only 21% of applicants were admitted to Georgia Tech. Out of 40,852 who applied, only 8,719 were accepted. When leading academics become Christians their influence for good and God can be significant.
A God story: Tabernacle Baptist Church in Macon interprets for first deaf worshipper
MACON, Ga. – Melissa Wells, a certified sign language interpreter, was expecting a Deaf co-worker to show up at Tabernacle Baptist Church on a recent Sunday morning, so she  was prepared to sign the songs and sermon.
Mission Georgia initiative helping churches, parents minister to traumatized kids
MARIETTA, Ga. – Training church leaders and volunteers in how to help children and teens suffering from trauma has quickly become one of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s most popular ministries. Foster care mobilizer Tera Melber said more than 350 people have undergone the training being offered through Mission Georgia, a Mission Board initiative that seeks to help the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Baptist Life

Eastside Baptist in Marietta takes a long look into the future

MARIETTA, GA – Corporations rarely cast a twenty-year vision and churches may never look that far ahead, but Dr. John Hull, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta is doing just that. A committee or task force is being formulated to do the groundwork to chart a course to make the church as effective and productive as possible in 2043. Pastor Hull has been urging the church to become a maximum church by emphasizing that Eastside exists for the purpose of connecting people to the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The apologetic landscape has changed and defending Christian morals is one of the chief tasks today, Timothy Paul Jones, professor of apologetics and family ministry at SBTS, said in Southern’s annual Faculty Address. Previous generations asked, “Is Christianity true?” but a primary question being asked of the faith today is, “Is it good?”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The foundation for Southern Seminary’s curriculum by which it trains ministers may be boiled down to one truth, President Albert Mohler said Thursday in his annual spring convocation address: God has spoken. Speaking on Isaiah 40:1-5, Mohler said that the most important truth humans can know is that “the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The existence of the self-revealing God is the irreducible foundation for the entire Christian faith. Thus, those truths undergird every class and every program in Southern Seminary’s curriculum.
Rev. Bernard M. Weaver of Powder Springs, age 94, passed away Monday, Jan. 31, 2023. A memorial service will be held Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church Chattahoochee, Atlanta, Ga., with Revs' Clint Watson, John Yarbrough, and John Darnell officiating. His desire was for his body to be donated to Emory University.
International Mission Board trustees approved the appointment of 46 new full-time, fully funded missionaries, while also honoring the service of 87 missionaries and staff during their meeting this week in Richmond, Virginia. Chuck Pourciau, trustee chairman and lead pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, presided over the two-day meeting.
Georgia

Instant runoffs voting bill introduced in Georgia House

ATLANTA – An effort that could lead eventually to the elimination of runoff elections in Georgia has surfaced in the General Assembly. State Rep. Joseph Gullett, R-Dallas, introduced a bill into the Georgia House this week that would allow Georgia cities to experiment with instant runoff voting in nonpartisan municipal elections. “This legislation promotes local control,” said Gullett.  “If passed, it gives cities the option to avoid the cost of expensive runoff elections while maintaining the principle of majority rule.

Georgia bills aim at prosecutors who refuse to charge crimes

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's elected prosecutors could face disciplinary sanctions, removals or easier voter recalls for declining to bring charges for misdemeanors under two bills introduced Thursday. Although one of the bills, which would set up an oversight commission, has failed before, Republicans have reintroduced it as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp criticizes prosecutors for not doing enough to prosecute all crimes — which sets the stage for GOP majorities to take action in 2023.

Mayor: Jackson-Ransom, former Atlanta first lady, has died

ATLANTA (AP) — Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, a former first lady of Atlanta and ex-wife of former Mayor Maynard Jackson, has died, city leaders said Thursday. Current Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement that Jackson-Ransom “was an incredible force of her own.” “She was a PR wiz and marketing pro, an educator and an author,” Dickens said. “But perhaps most importantly, she was a wife, mother and grandmother.”

Georgia House passes amended budget with cash for tax breaks

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia House on Thursday approved money for a $1 billion property tax break and $1 billion income tax break as part of a plan to amend this year's budget to spend another $2.4 billion in projected revenue. The Republican-controlled House voted 170-1 on Thursday to approve House Bill 18, sending it to the Senate for more debate.
Nation

Blinken postpones China trip following balloon discovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a planned high-stakes weekend diplomatic trip to China as the Biden administration weighs a broader response to the discovery of a high-altitude Chinese balloon flying over sensitive sites in the western United States, a U.S. official said Friday. The abrupt decision came despite China’s claim that the balloon was a weather research satellite that had blown off course. The U.S. has described it as a surveillance satellite.

China: Balloon over US skies is for research, wind pushed it

BEIJING (AP) — China said Friday that a balloon spotted over American airspace was used for weather research and was blown off course, despite U.S. suspicion it was spying. The discovery further strained already tense relations between Beijing and Washington. The Pentagon decided not to shoot down the balloon, which was potentially flying over sensitive sites, because of concerns of hurting people on the ground.

Texas power woes linger as New England girds for deep freeze

Rising temperatures offered some hope Friday for frustrated Texans days after they lost power — and in many cases heat — in a deadly winter storm, while a new wave of frigid weather rolling into the Northeast led communities to close schools and open warming centers. Wind chills in some higher elevations of the Northeast could punch below minus 50 as an Arctic front swept in from Canada, forecasters said.

Pentagon: Chinese spy balloon spotted over Western US

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been spotted over U.S. airspace for a couple of days, but the Pentagon decided not to shoot it down over concerns of hurting people on the ground, officials said Thursday. The discovery of the balloon puts a further strain on U.S.-China relations at a time of heightened tensions. A senior defense official told Pentagon reporters that the U.S. has “very high confidence” it is a Chinese high-altitude balloon and it was flying over sensitive sites to collect information.
World

Russia hits civilian targets anew, EU officials visit Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian missiles hit residential areas in an eastern Ukrainian city Thursday for the second time in 24 hours, while top European Union officials held talks with the government in Kyiv as the war with Russia approaches its one-year milestone. The latest strikes in Kramatorsk came as rescue crews searched for survivors in the rubble of an apartment building hit late Wednesday by a Russian missile that killed at least three people and wounded 21 others. At least one more victim was thought to be under the debris, Ukraine’s presidential office said.

From the mission field: In Haiti, gangs take control as democracy withers

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Jimmy Cherizier zips through Haiti’s capital on the back of a motorcycle, flanked by young men wielding black and leopard print masks and automatic weapons. As the pack of bikes flies by graffiti reading “Mafia boss” in Creole, street vendors selling vegetables, meats and old clothes on the curb cast their eyes to the ground or peer curiously.

Death toll from Pakistan mosque suicide bombing rises to 74

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — The death toll from the previous day's suicide bombing at a mosque in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday jumped to 74 after rescuers retrieved 15 more bodies from the rubble, police and rescue officials said. Bilal Faizi, the chief rescue official, said they were still removing the rubble after the mosque's roof caved following the attack.

Russian shelling kills 5 in tough eastern Ukraine combat

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian shelling killed at least five people and wounded 13 others during the previous 24 hours, Ukrainian authorities said Monday, as the Kremlin’s and Kyiv’s forces remained locked in combat in eastern Ukraine ahead of renewed military pushes that are expected when the weather improves. The casualties included a woman who was killed and three others who were wounded by the Russian shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the country’s northeast, according to regional Gov. Oleh Syniyehubov.
Perspectives
On February 1st, new gambling legislation was introduced in the Georgia Senate. Senator Billy Hickman authored Senate Bill 57 to legalize sports betting and horse racing through the Georgia Lottery. This bill is not a constitutional amendment, but rather a legislative bill that will only require a majority vote in the Senate to pass.
My favorite major league baseball team since childhood has been the Cincinnati Reds. One reason is because Cincinnati is located along the same river I grew up near in Western Kentucky – the Ohio. Another reason is that they were a great team. In the 1970’s, the Big Red Machine won six division titles, four National League pennants and back-to back World Championships (1975-76). One of the key players in that run was Pete Rose, who once said, “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” And play he did.
My dad did the grocery shopping for our family. For him, it was a social thing. He loved running into friends and visiting in the aisles. He must have influenced me. I do most of our grocery shopping and still go inside the store. No outside pickup for me. I do some of my best ministry inside when I run into church members, prospective members, and other friends.
For more than eight years the Georgia General Assembly has been dealing with the issue of expanding gambling in Georgia. Every year the proposed legislation has failed to pass out of the House and the Senate. This year, it is once again being discussed at the Capitol. I expect to hear a familiar argument, “Just let the people decide.” However, the people in one way have already “decided.” We are also hearing that there will be an attempt to go through the Georgia Lottery to legalize sports gambling. This means legislation would only be required to have a majority vote in both chambers, rather than a two-thirds majority with a constitutional amendment.
More than we’d like to admit, life changes and it never goes back to the way it was. Yet, if life were a coin, there would be two sides. There would be the side of “I don’t mind losing these things” and then there’s the other side of, “I wish I could go back to the way it was.” Maybe we just want things to be normal again. But there is no “normal again.” There is only what we can do now. It is what we can do now that leads us into a better future.
Business

US adds a surprisingly strong 517,000 jobs despite Fed hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added a robust 517,000 jobs in January, a surprisingly strong gain in the face of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive drive to slow growth and tame inflation with higher interest rates. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.4%, a new half-century low.

Federal Reserve lifts rate by quarter-point and signals more hikes ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation Wednesday by raising its key interest rate by a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March. And the Fed signaled that even though inflation is easing, it remains high enough to require further rate hikes. Though smaller than its previous hike — and even larger rate increases before that — the Fed's latest move will likely further raise the costs of many consumer and business loans.

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA's space shuttles, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratize passenger flight.

Carrier Emirates test flies Boeing 777 on sustainable fuel

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Long-haul carrier Emirates successfully flew a Boeing 777 on a test flight Monday with one engine entirely powered by so-called sustainable aviation fuel. This comes as carriers worldwide try to lessen their carbon footprint. Flight No. EK2646 flew for just under an hour over the coastline of the United Arab Emirates, after taking off from Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel, and heading out into the Persian Gulf before circling back to land. The fuel powered one of the Boeings two General Electric Co. engines, with the other running on conventional jet fuel for safety.

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed's series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year increase in November. It was the third straight drop.
Sports

Kennesaw State beats Bellarmine in double overtime behind Burden's 27 points

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Terrell Burden scored 27 points as Kennesaw State beat Bellarmine 90-84 in double overtime on Thursday night. Burden also had six assists for the Owls (18-6, 10-1 Atlantic Sun Conference). Chris Youngblood was 6 of 13 shooting, including 2 for 5 from distance, and went 6 for 9 from the line to add 20 points. Brandon Stroud shot 6 of 11 from the field and 3 for 4 from the line to finish with 17 points, while adding eight rebounds and five steals. It was the eighth win in a row for the Owls.

Georgia State defeats Georgia Southern 64-60

ATLANTA (AP) — Brenden Tucker's 20 points helped Georgia State defeat Georgia Southern 64-60 on Thursday night. Tucker was 5 of 9 shooting, including 2 for 4 from distance, and went 8 for 12 from the line for the Panthers (10-13, 3-8 Sun Belt Conference). Jamaine Mann scored 18 points while going 6 of 11 from the floor, including 3 for 5 from distance, and 3 for 6 from the line, and added seven rebounds. Ja'Heim Hudson shot 5 for 11, including 0 for 3 from beyond the arc to finish with 11 points.

Mercer loses to UNC Greensboro, 69-49

MACON, Ga. (AP) — Mohammed Abdulsalam scored 15 points to help UNC Greensboro defeat Mercer 69-49 on Thursday night. Abdulsalam also had 16 rebounds for the Spartans (15-9, 9-2 Southern Conference). Keondre Kennedy added 12 points while going 5 of 12 (0 for 5 from distance), and he also had six rebounds. Mikeal Brown-Jones shot 5 of 6 from the field and 2 for 3 from the line to finish with 12 points.

Murray scores 21 points, Hawks roll past Suns 132-100

PHOENIX (AP) — Trae Young rose up for a 3-pointer in the second half that left his hands way too hard, hurtling toward the basket before slamming off the backboard and through the hoop. Atlanta's star guard shrugged and ran back down the court with a sheepish grin. Things were going the Hawks' way Wednesday night, leading to a blowout victory. Dejounte Murray scored 21 points, Young added 20 points and 12 assists and Atlanta rolled past the Phoenix Suns 132-100.