Baptist Life

DALLAS, Ga. — In a classy blue suit, striped tie, and starched white shirt, Donald Voyles has the look of a man who has just stepped out of the board room of a Fortune 500 company. He’s every whit the professional, from his freshly trimmed white hair to his newly polished back shoes. At 89, Voyles may not fit the stereotypical mold of the modern church planter, but the Adrian Rogers-look is paying dividends for a congregation birthed from a back-porch Bible study at his home in suburban Atlanta four years ago.

When the box of Kleenex’s fell behind the dryer, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Knowing that it would be a fire hazard to leave it, I shimmied up on the dryer as best as a 61-year-old woman could to retrieve it.  My arms were not long enough.  “I will get it,” my beloved called from the other room.  But I didn’t want him to. I wanted to do it myself.  I always have to have help.  Surely, I could just do this alone.

LaGRANGE, Ga. — Georgia pastor Willie Thomas Edmondson is being remembered as a “legend" and a “warrior” as well as a “trailblazer” who served people not only from his church but also from city hall. Edmonson died Friday. In addition to being pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in West Point, Edmondson also served as mayor of LaGrange.

Have you ever felt like you just had a bad week and you caught yourself complaining? I hope you can say yes to that question because it will make me feel better. I have had one of those weeks. It reminded me of a story about my granddaughter, Lottie, when she was around five.

CONYERS, Ga. — Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow is hoping for a big turnout for a pair of evangelism conferences, the first of which begins on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Conyers. “The evangelism conferences help us to grow, to be equipped and to be inspired,” Saefkow said. “A big part of these conferences is to be inspired to go and tell others about Jesus.” Georgia Baptists are going into this year’s conferences with an obvious zeal for sharing the gospel. They’re reporting a 30% increase in baptisms over the past year and a more than 92% increase since 2020.

Shorter University has a history of training quality pianists, and to continue this training, the music department has started the Piano Program Project. This project was started in 2019 as a three-phase project.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In his report to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committeeon Monday, Bart Barber outlined new efforts to implement what he believes messengers have called on SBC leadership to do as the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting approaches. Among the updates, the Southern Baptist Convention president announced efforts to implement a new resolutions process. He also noted he will announce members of the resolutions committee by the end of February.

CHULA, Mo. — Amanda Hicks knew there were bees inside the building that once housed Chula Baptist Church. Everyone in the small Missouri town knew that. The old church had been sitting empty for nearly five years, the last of four churches that once served the small community of Chula, Missouri. While it sat empty, bees had made a home inside it, but everyone thought the bees were hiding in the walls.

Leaving behind a legacy is something that all Christians should strive for during their lifetime. Specifically, the love we have should be so unrecognizable to the culture that we shine in the darkness. One couple’s legacy, William Everett and Teresa Bennett, does just that.

If you have been a follower of Christ for a considerable amount of time, have you noticed the temptations and the struggles you encounter are different from when you first accepted Christ? As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, our faith should be marked by a progression of growth and depth.

Genesis describes the progressive involvement of Lot with the city of Sodom. First, Lot pitched his tents near Sodom. Lot surely knew of the reputation of the inhabitants of Sodom “sinning immensely against the Lord” (13:13). Notice the progression in the description of Lot. He moved near Sodom and then moved into Sodom.

Sunrise over Shorter University

Shorter University President Donald Dowless captured the beauty of a late-winter sunrise  on Tuesday.  Shorter University, founded in 1873, is a Southern Baptist school in Rome, Ga.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The search team for the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has announced that a candidate appears to have “emerged.” The committee shared an update on the process during a meeting in Nashville on Monday.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  —  A decision regarding two requests from Southern Baptist messengers that would require SBC entities to release financial information similar to what is found on the IRS Form 990 has been postponed until June. During Monday's meeting in Nashville, the Committee on Convention Finances and Stewardship Development of the SBC Executive Committee voted to delay addressing the two motions that came from the floor of the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Southern Baptist Convention’s Abuse Reform Task Force has announced the creation of a new nonprofit organization that will oversee reforms. Incorporation papers for the Abuse Response Commission are prepped and ready to be submitted in South Carolina.

BOGART, Ga., — When Josh Smith became pastor of Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Bogart six years ago after 11 years at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, he succeeded Pastor Bill Ricketts, who had served the church for 43 years. Ricketts had relocated the church from downtown Athens to Bogart, a growing community approximately seven miles west of Athens. The church was poised for growth, but it would take the right kind of pastor to lead the church to its greatest destiny.

When International Mission Board missionary Moses knew that God was calling him to go make disciples on islands near Senegal, his knee-jerk response was no. His hesitance had nothing to do with disobedience or uncertainty about the islanders. It wasn’t about the persecution believers faced in these areas. The issue was that Moses couldn’t swim. Island ministry had to be off the table, for his own safety.

WAKE FOREST, N.C. — Over the past week, Southeastern Seminary and The College at Southeastern hosted their annual Go Conference for college students followed by a variety of on-campus events for Global Missions Week. Encouraging students to pray for the nations and for missionaries on the field, these events also challenged students to consider how they might join in God’s global mission.

NEW ORLEANS — Rhonda Kelley, wife of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president emeritus Chuck Kelley and a pioneer in women’s ministry, passed away Saturday, Feb. 17, after a long battle with cancer. She was 72. Author, speaker and a mentor to many, Kelley was known for her vibrant spirit and dedication in serving women in the local church, in the seminary classroom, and at the state and denominational level.  

We must be intentional in our missiology, and we often must make intentional turns in our methodology. The Missions department of GBMB’s Church Strengthening team has made some significant shifts for 2024 going forward. Both moves are based on biblical and practical theology. One involves church planting, and the others speak to facilitation in missions partnerships.

COLUMBUS, Ga. – In January, Jimmy Blanton announced his retirement as the missionary of the Columbus Baptist Association by saying, “I realize that the association does not need a new mission, but it does need a new voice, a new vision, and a new missionary.”

ROME, Ga. — The Shorter University Chorus is hosting a Night of Worship on Feb. 20 and would love to see you there. This choir specializes in music for worship and the church. This concert will include pieces written by a variety of composers from Haydn to Shorter University alumnus Cliff Duren.

PHOENIX, Ariz. — International Mission Board trustees approved the appointment of 62 new full-time, fully funded missionaries during their Wednesday and Thursday meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Trustees met in conjunction with a Sending Celebration for new appointees hosted by North Phoenix Baptist Church.  

PHOENIX, Arix. — In a meeting with Southern Baptist leaders in Phoenix, International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood and North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell underscored their strengthened commitment to jointly meeting needs and changing lives through Send Relief. The leaders also unveiled a new logo for Send Relief that incorporates the brand marks for the two Southern Baptist missions organizations.

Without a chair, much less a building, to call their own, Church 8025 got its start in the Denver area with a loan of 30 chairs from a nearby church plant, Journey Point – part of a collection of many stories of God’s provision. “That’s how we started – with nothing,” says church planter Michael Talley, who moved with his wife, Dale, and several other families from Warner Robins to Denver. “But God blessed it, and we grew.”

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