Baptist News Summary: LifeWay to reduce ‘brick-and-mortar channel’

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LifeWay to reduce ‘brick-and-mortar channel’

NASHVILLE (BP) — In light of “an accelerated rate of erosion” at “brick-and-mortar” stores, LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer has announced that some LifeWay stores will be closing. The number of stores to close and the timing of those closures has not been announced.

BAPTIST PRESS photo

Rainer wrote in a Jan. 15 email to all LifeWay employees, “We prayed and hoped that our investments in and commitments to the LifeWay stores would prove fruitful. That just has not been the case. To the contrary, we not only continue to see an erosion in the brick-and-mortar channel, we have seen an accelerated rate of erosion in recent months. It was our hope that greater traffic would result in greater sales, and that with our expense reductions and product cost savings, we would be able to offset sales declines. That hope has not been realized with the declines we have seen since September.”

LifeWay operated 174 stores in 2017, according to the latest figures published in Southern Baptist Convention Annuals. In 2018, LifeWay launched a new vision for its stores, seeking to make them places where people could “connect, learn and grow,” Baptist Press reported in February 2018.

The last time LifeWay’s sales exceeded its total operating expenses was 2009, when LifeWay reported a $3 million increase in “unrestricted net assets from operations,” according to financial reports published in SBC Annuals. Since then, total operating expenses exceeded sales each year. The margin by which operating expenses exceeded sales grew from $2.3 million in 2010 to $35.5 million in 2017.

Chitwood to be installed as IMB president Feb. 6

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — The International Mission Board will install Paul Chitwood formally as its 13th president on Feb. 6 at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.

The International Mission Board will install Paul Chitwood formally as its 13th president on Feb. 6 at Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Richmond. IMB photo

The public is invited to attend the installation service, which will include a Sending Celebration honoring the appointment of 19 new Southern Baptist international missionaries.

The IMB’s board of trustees unanimously elected Chitwood, 48, as president of the organization on Nov. 15 in Richmond. Chitwood, who previously served as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, took office immediately as president of the 173-year-old entity, the largest denominational missionary-sending body among American evangelicals. More than 3,600 Southern Baptist international missionaries serve worldwide.

The special service will include a charge to the new president and the new missionaries by Tom Elliff, former IMB president, who served in the role from 2011-2014. Other notable guests who will participate in the service include IMB President Emeritus Jerry Rankin, who served as IMB president from 1993-2010; J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C.; Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director/treasurer of the Woman’s Missionary Union in Birmingham, Ala.; Chuck Pourciau, chairman of the trustee presidential search committee and senior pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La.; and Clyde Meador, IMB’s interim executive vice president.

KBC’s Woods to chair 2019 SBC Resolutions Committee

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Kentucky Baptist leader Curtis Woods has been named chairman of the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee, SBC President J.D. Greear announced today (Jan. 22).

Curtis Woods BAPTIST PRESS file photo

Greear also announced his appointment of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary vice president Keith Whitfield as vice chairman.

Woods, who served on the 2018 SBC Resolutions Committee, will be only the second African American to chair the committee, according to Baptist Press’ review of SBC records. Norris Sydnor, an African American, chaired the committee in 1982.

Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., told BP, “Southern Baptists must continue to bring new voices and new faces to the table that better represent both who we are and who we want to reach. We must be able to say to all Southern Baptists not just ‘you are represented in the process’ but ‘you are involved in the process.'”

Woods, co-interim executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention since November, has served as KBC associate executive director for convention relations since 2012. 

Todd Deaton to rejoin S.C. Baptist Courier staff

GREENVILLE, S.C. (BP) — Todd Deaton has been named managing editor of The Baptist Courier, newsmagazine of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, effective Mar. 1, moving from the editor’s post at the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Todd Deaton. KBC photo

Todd Deaton Deaton, 55, a South Carolina native who formerly served 13 years as The Courier’s managing editor, will succeed Butch Blume, a 20-year Courier employee who succeeded Deaton in 2009 when Deaton became the Western Recorder’s editor.

Blume, who will retire in April, has served South Carolina Baptists for more than three decades, including 14 years at Anderson College (now Anderson University) before joining The Courier’s staff.

“We are beyond delighted that Todd will again be joining The Courier family,” editor Rudy Gray said. “He is an accomplished Christian journalist, a successful editor and a South Carolina native who certainly knows South Carolina Baptists.

‘Cordial’ meeting: Patterson, SEBTS divide documents

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — After two days of meetings, representatives of Paige Patterson and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary say they have determined, with no disagreements, the rightful ownership of 89 boxes of documents related to Patterson’s 1992-2003 presidency at Southeastern.

Paige Patterson (pictured here reporting to SBC messengers in 2015) has reached an agreement with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary regarding proper ownership of documents related to this 1992-2003 presidency there. MATT MILLER/ Baptist Press

Paige Patterson (pictured here reporting to SBC messengers in 2015) has reached an agreement with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary regarding proper ownership of documents related to this 1992-2003 presidency there.BP file photo by Matt MillerSoutheastern said it recovered “student” and “personnel” records from Patterson. Patterson’s representatives said he maintained all but about one-third of a box out of the documents at issue. Both sides agreed the meetings — held Jan. 7-8 on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary — were cordial.

The meetings occurred seven months after Patterson was terminated by Southwestern following nearly 15 years as president there. Less than a week following Patterson’s termination from Southwestern, Southeastern released a statement claiming it was “not in possession of documents” from Patterson’s Southeastern presidency that were “deemed as being owned by the seminary.” Official documents likely were not removed “maliciously,” Southeastern stated, but because of “a misunderstanding on the part of the Pattersons.”

Some of the documents, Southeastern stated, likely were needed for internal review of an alleged 2003 sexual assault on the SEBTS campus that became public amid Patterson’s tumultuous final days at Southwestern.

Following this month’s meeting, both sides declined to identify the specific documents they maintained. But they agreed the meetings ended with no disputed documents.

SBU upholds prof’s firing, affirms BF&M

BOLIVAR, Mo. (BP) — Trustees at Southwest Baptist University have affirmed both the firing of a former SBU theology professor and the trustee board’s commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message.

Trustees at Southwest Baptist University have affirmed both the firing of a former SBU theology professor and the trustee board’s commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message. SBU photo

The board’s actions were announced in a series of SBU news releases Jan. 22-24. The BF&M affirmation occurred during a Jan. 22 special called trustee meeting on SBU’s Bolivar, Mo., campus. The professor’s firing was affirmed prior to the meeting by a trustee subcommittee and announced via a university news release Jan. 23.

Clint Bass, the terminated theology professor at issue, had appealed his Nov. 28 firing to the board, whose five-member Educational Policies and Personnel Committee met with him Dec. 21. An online petition supporting Bass claims he ran afoul of SBU administrators after informing the administration “of his concerns about the doctrinal instability” of SBU’s Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry.

SBU President Eric Turner has accused Bass, among other violations of faculty policy, of “collecting evidence and ascribing views to [faculty colleagues] without personal interaction” and “use of non-credible information to formulate accusations against fellow faculty members.”

SBU is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention.

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