‘Looking up’: 1 year after Sutherland Springs attack
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (BP) – Hundreds crowded the property of First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs, Texas on Nov. 4, as the church gathered for special services to remember the 26 who died and to remind survivors and attendees that evil did not win that day one year before. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was among those who addressed the group
“Out of all the shootings I have covered,” one reporter recently told Pomeroy, “you are the only ones who are smiling, thriving and moving forward.”
“I can only say that this is how God works things when you choose to keep looking up,” Pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose 14-year-old daughter Annabelle was among those killed, said by phone a few days before the Nov. 5 anniversary. “There are a lot of tears and heartache, but the ability to move forward is much easier when you focus on the light and not the darkness.”
Even while the past is still very fresh, the congregation is also focused on new ministry opportunities and moving forward.
“Our current congregation is a very different mix,” Pomeroy says. “Some still struggle with new people stepping up and doing things. Some have trouble with the crowd. Some want a quiet little church again and that’s not where we are anymore.”
Disaster Relief Appreciation Sunday to be observed Nov. 11
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (NAMB) – On Sun., Nov. 11, Southern Baptists will celebrate Disaster Relief Appreciation Sunday, an opportunity to recognize and thank Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) leaders and trained and equipped volunteers.
For more than 50 years, Southern Baptists have provided disaster relief to the United States and its territories after the gravest of tragedies. Whether it is major natural disasters that affect millions or localized events that hit small communities, SBDR volunteers regularly arrive to bring help, healing and hope to those impacted.
So far in 2018, SBDR volunteers have prepared 2.1 million meals across the nation. Volunteers have completed more than 1,500 flood-clean up jobs, more than 1,250 tear-out jobs, and provided more than 3,650 chainsaw jobs. In total, more than 6,200 homeowners have been helped, and volunteers have recorded nearly 90,000 days of service.
As they provide physical relief, volunteers also engage in providing emotional and spiritual support. SBDR reported seeing 540 professions of faith as they shared the gospel.
“After serving in disaster relief for more than 20 years, I’m extremely grateful to see our story told. It is a testimony to the heart and determination of Southern Baptists around the nation, those who give and those who go,” said Sam Porter, the national director of disaster relief at NAMB.
Annual Church Profile & more of the SBC story
NASHVILLE (LIFEWAY) – Long-standing patterns continued to dominate the 2017 Annual Church Profile report released in June. The number of congregations cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention increased over 2016 totals, while reported membership and baptisms continued their year-over-year decline.
However, the 2017 ACP totals released in June counted all 51,920 congregations affiliated with the SBC — an increase of more than 150 over 2016. However, the ACP totals did not include statistics for every Southern Baptist congregation. Seven in 10 Southern Baptist congregations (71 percent) participated in the ACP survey by reporting at least one item on the profile. That’s down from 74 percent the previous three years.
Based on this analysis, the estimated total membership of all Southern Baptist congregations is 15.7 million, compared to 15 million reported membership. LifeWay Research’s analysis also estimated 363,069 baptisms likely occurred, compared to 254,122 reported baptisms.
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said the gap between reported totals and estimated statistics for all Southern Baptist congregations is nearly 109,000 baptisms, 1.2 million attendees, more than 741,000 members, and nearly $2.7 billion in total receipts.
“The members and attendees of these non-reporting congregations are important members of the family,” he said. “We want to encourage each congregation to participate in the Annual Church Profile.”
Pastor celebrates 50 years at one church
CLEVELAND, Tn. (B&R) – On Sunday, Oct. 21, members of Bellefounte Baptist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee paid tribute to Lake Walker, who has served the church as pastor since October of 1968 – 50 years.
Walker, a native of McMinn County who was saved and called into the ministry after serving in the Air Force, served as an interim pastor for two years in nearby Athens, Tennessee before Bellefounte Baptist called him as their first full-time pastor. Previously, the church had “part-time” pastors.
In 1968 the church averaged about 50 in Sunday School. The church now averages about 120 in Sunday School and 200 or so in worship. The church’s budget has increased from $13,000 to more than $400,000 over the past 50 years, with inflation factored in.
Under his leadership, the church has given more than $682,000 through the Cooperative Program and the church’s total missions giving has exceeded $1,232,000.
In addition, more than 600 people were saved and baptized during the last 50 years.
“My 50 years here have been because of God’s grace,” Walker stressed. “Everything about my life has been about the grace of God in my life. He’s been extremely good to me.”