Baptist Life

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee will recommend a longtime pastor with “a stellar reputation” and years of denominational leadership experience to serve as their interim president. Dan Summerlin, who recently retired as pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in western Kentucky, would lead the Executive Committee staff until a permanent president is hired.

STATESBORO, Ga. — Christians who truly want to make a difference in the world always put the needs of others first, do whatever it takes to point people to Christ, and commit to a spirit of cooperation. Those are three characteristics common among difference-makers, said Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr., the keynote speaker Saturday at the final of a series of church equipping conferences held across the state over the past month.

BAXLEY, Ga. — Christians in the Baxley area were preparing for an evangelistic crusade when a revival broke out. Some 600 people had gathered for a pre-crusade youth rally on Wednesday evening. Nearly 300 of those made decisions for Christ. “The key to the success last night was the people of God have been praying for months for this crusade,” said Rick Gage, the Georgia-based evangelist who leads GO TELL Ministries, in an interview Thursday. “This area is ripe for a great harvest, and I think we’re going to see a move of God.”

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Fayetteville pastor Josh Saefkow will seek a second term as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention with hopes of keeping churches focused on sharing the gospel. Saefkow, elected last November, said the position has given him “a front seat to see all that the Lord is doing in Georgia.” “I have loved seeing how God is moving all over our state, and I have loved being with our pastors, our associational missionaries, our Mission Board staff,” he said.

CUMMING, Ga. — Andrew Ryzhkov and his wife, Inna, planted a Russian-speaking church in Snellville and are currently serving Calvary Russian Church, a thriving congregation they started from a humble beginning in Alpharetta over 20 years ago.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Pastor Steve Taylor told Georgia Baptist leaders about the time his septic system malfunctioned, causing nasty gray water to seep from the ground onto his lawn. “I’m out in the yard, and I’m digging away, knee deep in my own mess, literally,” Taylor, vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, said in a devotion delivered at a Georgia Baptist Executive Committee meeting in Fayetteville on Tuesday. “One of my church members who was driving by, stops, and says what’s going on? He jumps out of the car and says let me help. Just a little while later, another man comes along, and he begins to get down in my mess, knee deep, with me.”

McCAYSVILLE, Ga. — Dr. David Drake faithfully served as the pastor of churches in Georgia and Florida for more than 30 years including First Baptist Church in Cartersville, Palm Springs Baptist Church in Palm Springs, Fla., Central Baptist Church in Waycross, First Baptist Church in Ellijay, and currently First Baptist Church McCaysville & Copperhill. He has served these churches with distinction and faithfulness.

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. — Steve Edwards has built a successful women’s basketball program at Brewton-Parker College. He has been coach of the year in the Southern States Athletic Conference. He has coached in three national tournaments. But, for Edwards, who doubles as campus pastor, all those accolades pale in comparison to the spiritual victories his teams have celebrated over his eight years as head coach.

SWAINSBORO, Ga. — The plan was a simple one: post volunteers at two roadside locations in Swainsboro for a drive-thru prayer initiative. The result was amazing: 30 people surrendered their lives to  Christ in a single day.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — In the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, residents of south Georgia have been turning to Christ for hope, comfort and salvation. “When people get into these kinds of life-or-death situations, they start thinking about their own mortality,” said Bob Sprinkel, a longtime volunteer with Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief. “When a hurricane hits, people need hope, and Jesus is that hope.” Disaster Relief volunteers reported that nine people had made salvation decisions in the Valdosta area as of Monday.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Lt. Col. Scott Smith’s regular job is flying F-15s for the U.S. Air Force, but during the long Labor Day weekend he was manning a chainsaw for one of the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief crews helping Valdosta residents clean up in the wake of Hurricane Idalia. “I don’t know that I have a whole lot of the spiritual gifts the Bible talks about, but God has given me a strong back,” said Smith, a member of Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins. “I feel like manual labor is one way I can serve.” People from all walks of life have joined forces through the Disaster Relief ministry to help hurricane survivors in the Valdosta area, where thousands of trees were toppled by Idalia’s winds.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — In Georgia’s hurricane zone, the long Labor Day weekend has been no walk in the park for Disaster Relief crews who are volunteering their time to help storm victims. Sweat soaks their conspicuous yellow shirts as they balance on sweltering rooftops, sawing away fallen trees that had been toppled by Hurricane Idalia on Wednesday.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Cleanup is underway in south Georgia after a pummeling blow by Hurricane Idalia knocked trees onto homes and downed powerlines, leaving thousands without electricity in the summer heat. A chainsaw crew from Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief spent Friday removing a fallen tree from the Baptist Collegiate Ministries building at Valdosta State University. Others prepared meals for storm victims.

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — More than 3,700 students made salvation decisions at Lifeway camps over the summer, President and CEO Ben Mandrell said this week. Camp locations across the country hosted 111,686 campers from more than 4,000 churches.

JEFFERSON CITY,  Mo. – The Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention has named former Georgia pastor Wes Fowler executive director-treasurer. Fowler succeeds John Yeats, who steps aside after 12 years of leading the network of 1,750 self-governing churches through challenging times and to higher levels of cooperative ministry.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dr. Brad Whitt stood waist-deep in a pool Sunday evening, sending out ripples with each new believer he dipped beneath the water’s mirrored surface. Hundreds of people from Abilene Baptist Church had gathered at Camp Lakeside to see 21 people baptized in the sun-warmed waters.

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. — Brewton-Parker College has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to construct an 8,000 sq/ft state-of-the-art nursing instructional facility on its campus. The facility will provide an opportunity for students to study in a simulated environment, adequately preparing them for the great demand for registered nurses in the area and across the state of Georgia.

SUWANEE, Ga. — Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief has been placed on standby in anticipation of Tropical Storm Idalia, which is expected to become a major hurricane by the time it reaches Florida’s Gulf coast on Tuesday. “Forecasts are not very pretty this morning,” Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter told his volunteers Monday. “Predictions are not what we would like. Storm Track takes this as a Category 3 at land fall and a Category 1 hurricane from the south center of Georgia all the way up our coastline.”

SUWANEE, Ga. — Georgia Baptists, who give millions of dollars each year to reach the lost around the world, will focus their financial resources on their home state in the coming month. September has been set aside as the Mission Georgia emphasis month, meaning churches will spent the next four weeks encouraging members to get behind an effort to reach the state’s 7 million unchurched residents with the gospel.

DALLAS, Ga. – The Sons of Jubal brought their robust worship and singing to First Baptist Church in Dallas on Thursday. The Sons of Jubal are part of Jubal Ministries, which also includes the Jubalheirs women’s chorus, Jubal Symphony, and the Jubal Brass orchestra. The Sons of Jubal and Jubalheirs, each with more than 200 members plus instrumental accompanists, combine their voices a few times each year to form the Jubal Chorus.

ATLANTA, Ga. — Standing-room-only crowds of students have been flocking to Baptist College Ministries on university campuses across Georgia as the new academic year gets underway. One of the largest gatherings involved 450 international students who gathered at Georgia Tech for  worship and a meal provided by First Baptist Church of Woodstock, said Beverly Skinner, collegiate ministry catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

CLAYTON, Ga. — In the cool of the morning, Kevin McDade steers a golf cart along the main thoroughfare at the Pinnacle Retreat Center, discussing his first impressions of the Appalachian getaway where he now works. “When you drive through the gate, the anxiety of the world kind of leaves you,” McDade said. “It’s a peaceful feeling that you’re entering a special place, a place of rest. You can leave the stress of the world behind you when you come in.”

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — A study from Lifeway Research has found that 52% of American Protestant churchgoers say their church teaches God will bless them if they give more money to their church and charities. That’s an increase from 38% of churchgoers surveyed in a similar study in 2017.

ATLANTA — Fortune 500 companies looking for quality business leaders are finding that pastors make topnotch managers, motivators, and multitaskers. That’s according to Todd Linder, founder of Launch Point, an Atlanta-based firm that has carved out a niche in the business world nationally by helping pastors transition from churches to the secular marketplace. A significant increase in the number of pastors leaving ministry opened the door for the new venture.

COLUMBUS, GA — Knowing that prayer is the engine that moves a church forward, Pastor Tim Jones led his church to begin gathering for prayer each day at noon three years ago. The prayer vigil at Britt David Baptist Church is still going strong.

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