Top stories

Bellevue pastor Steve Gaines 'grateful to God for a miracle' in continuing battle with cancer

Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., provides an update about his battle with cancer on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Screenshot/The Baptist Paper)
CORDOVA, Tenn. —  Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Steve Gaines reported major improvements with his cancer in a video posted Firday. In November 2023, Gaines shared with his congregation that he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, then in December shared that the cancer had spread to his lungs. On Friday, he said the cancer polyps in his lungs and the cancer in his rib were gone, according to his latest PET scan. The cancer in his kidney has also “gone down significantly,” he said.
Pastor Jason Britt baptizes a new believer at Bethlehem Church.
Index Magazine: Georgia's Bethlehem Church experiencing exceptional growth
BETHLEHEM, Ga.— Those who drove east on Highway 316 to the University of Georgia football games last fall may not have noticed Georgia Baptists’ largest church in worship attendance. Pastor Jason Britt and his excellent staff have been faithfully serving Christ and doing their work without much notice from those outside the Barrow, Oconee, and Walton County area, yet mobilizing hundreds of people to build one of the fastest-growing churches in America.
Migrants wait to be processed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after they crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico, Oct. 19, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Lifeway study shows evangelicals back immigration reform, increased border security
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — American evangelicals have complex perspectives on immigration and want a nuanced political response, but most want Congress to act soon. A Lifeway Research study sponsored by the Evangelical Immigration Table found evangelicals are increasingly concerned about the number of recent immigrants to the U.S. but still believe Christians have a responsibility to care for those who are in the country illegally.
Steve McEntyre poses for a photo beside a Cherokee County fire truck. He is now pastor of Cheatham Hills Baptist Church in Marietta.
Georgia pastor Steve McEntyre makes career shift, but still rescuing the perishing
MARIETTA, GA – Steve McEntyre has had two careers that have called for him to rescue the perishing, first as a firefighter and now as a minister. McEntyre, pastor of Cheatham Hills Baptist Church in Marietta, served 21 years as a firefighter in Cherokee County. “Pastors and firefighters are all about rescuing the perishing,” he said. “It takes passion and an unquenchable resolve to rescue people from burning buildings. And it takes the same kind of driving force and sense of calling to seek to rescue people from the fires of eternal retribution."
Georgia's Republican Lt. Gov. Burt Jones smiles after the Senate approved a resolution authorizing a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting. The vote passed on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (Screenshot/Georgia Public Broadcasting)
Senate Republicans defy Georgia's largest religious organization, pass sports betting proposal with help from Dems
ATLANTA — The Republican majority in the state Senate, with help from Democratic colleagues, have pushed through a proposal that could legalize sports gambling in defiance of Georgia’s largest religious organization, which called for the measure to be quashed. The Senate voted 41-12 on Tuesday to pass Senate Resolution 579, another step toward putting a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for Georgia voters to ratify or reject.
W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, preaches at First Baptist Church in Conyers during the second day of an evangelism conference on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. (Index/Henry Durand)
Photo gallery: Scenes from the Georgia Baptist evangelism conference at First Baptist Conyers
CONYERS, Ga. —  More than 400 pastors and other Christian leaders gathered at First Baptist Church in Conyers for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Called to Witness evangelism conference Sunday and Monday.
Baptist Life

Evangelism conference preachers Thomas Hammond, H.B. Charles urge Georgia Baptists to make sharing the gospel top priority

W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, left, and H.B. Charles, pastor at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., preach at at an evangelism conference at First Baptist Church in Conyers  on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. (Index/Henry Durand)
CONYERS, Ga. — Reaching the lost requires Christians to step outside their comfort zones to reach people who desperately need Jesus, preachers told Georgia Baptists on the second day of an evangelism conference in Conyers. “If we’re going to reach this culture, we’re going to have to go to some places that will make us uncomfortable, and we’re going to have to do some things that make our people become uncomfortable,” said W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The SBC Executive Committee’s presidential search team is recommending longtime educator Jeff Iorg as the organization’s next leader. The Executive Committee said in a statement Friday that Iorg will be presented for a vote at a meeting March 21.
A Spartanburg-area pastor will be nominated to serve as president of the 2025 Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, told The Courier on Thursday, Feb. 29, that he intends to nominate D.J. Horton, senior pastor of Church at The Mill in Moore, during this year’s conference in Indianapolis.
PAMPA, Texas — Late February wildfires ravaging the Texas Panhandle continued to burn from northernmost Hutchinson County across the region, prompting Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott to issue a disaster declaration for 60 counties on Tuesday, Feb. 27, as the fires doubled in a single day. Southern Baptists of Texas Disaster Relief crews immediately responded to the emergency and continue to do so.
MAUI, Hawaii – Yasushi Nemoto pastors Kahului Union Church on Maui on the opposite side of the island from Lahaina. As the fires started burning on August 8, 2023, Nemoto and others in Kahului were not completely aware of what was going on that day. Then, the sheer volume of smoke signaled the severity of the situation. Intense winds from a Pacific hurricane hundreds of miles south of Hawaii combined with a dry summer to generate a rapid fire.
Georgia
People cross the street near the Fulton County Courthouse, Aug. 14, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Alex Slitz, File)

Georgia's largest county is still repairing damage from January cyberattack

Georgia's largest county is still repairing damage inflicted on its government a month ago by hackers who shut down office phone lines, left clerks unable to issue vehicle registrations or marriage licenses and threatened to publicly release sensitive data they claimed to have stolen unless officials paid ransom.

Hundreds gather to pay tribute to slain Georgia nursing student who loved caring for others

WOODSTOCK, Ga. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners lined up Friday at a church outside Atlanta to pay respects to the family of Laken Riley, the nursing student killed by an illegal immigrant after she went out for a morning jog on the University of Georgia campus.

A former Georgia police officer and a current one are indicted in a fatal November 2022 shooting

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A current Georgia police officer and a former one have been indicted in the 2022 shooting death of a man inside his home in suburban Atlanta, authorities said Wednesday. A grand jury handed up charges of felony involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor reckless conduct against former DeKalb County Police Officer Russell Mathis, 30, and charged Officer Jordan Vance, 30, with reckless conduct, county prosecutors said in a news release.

$1 million in stolen cargo discovered in warehouse near Georgia port

RINCON, Ga. (AP) — Authorities in Georgia discovered an estimated $1 million worth of stolen cargo inside a warehouse a few miles from Savannah’s busy seaport. Investigators with a search warrant found pallets of consumer goods including cellphones, food and Peloton exercise equipment, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
Nation
FILE - An Apache activist dancer performs in a rally to save Oak Flat, land near Superior, Ariz., sacred to Western Apache tribes, in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 22, 2015. An Apache group that has fought to protect land it considers sacred from a copper mining project in central Arizona suffered a significant blow Friday, March 1, 2024, when a divided federal court panel voted 6-5 to uphold a lower court's denial of a preliminary injunction to halt transfer of land for the project. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

A US appeals court ruling could allow mine development on Oak Flat, land sacred to Apaches

An Apache group that has fought to protect land it considers sacred from a copper mining project in central Arizona suffered a significant blow Friday when a divided federal court panel voted 6-5 to uphold a lower court's denial of a preliminary injunction to halt the transfer of land for the project.

Alaska's Iditarod dogs get neon visibility harnesses after 5 were fatally hit while training

The Iditarod, the annual sled dog race celebrating Alaska's official state sport, is set to get underway Saturday with a new focus on safety after five dogs died and eight were injured in collisions with snowmobiles while training on shared, multi-use trails.

Firefighters face difficult weather conditions as they battle the largest wildfire in Texas history

STINNETT, Texas (AP) — Firefighters battling the largest wildfire in Texas history face increasingly difficult weather conditions on Saturday.

An arrest has been made and charges filed in Pennsylvania slaying of pregnant Amish woman

A Pennsylvania man was arrested Saturday and charged with the slaying of a pregnant Amish woman whose body was found last week.
World
A framed portrait of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney leans against the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

Canada plans state funeral for late Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will hold a state funeral for Brian Mulroney, the prime minister who in the 1980s solidified trade ties with the U.S. and spoke out against South Africa’s apartheid and whose death drew tributes Friday from world leaders.

Bangladeshi leader says a shopping mall that caught fire, killing at least 46 people, had no emergency exits

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A six-story shopping mall that caught fire in the Bangladeshi capital had no fire exits, the country's prime minister said Friday, as the death toll climbed to at least 46 and rescuers continued to search for more victims. The fire started late Thursday in a restaurant on the first floor of the Green Cozy Cottage Shopping Mall in downtown Dhaka. More than a dozen firefighting units were deployed.

Alexei Navalny, who galvanized opposition to Putin, is laid to rest after his death in prison

Under a heavy police presence, thousands of people bade farewell Friday to Alexei Navalny at his funeral in Moscow after his still-unexplained death two weeks ago in an Arctic penal colony. The service followed a battle with authorities over the release of the body of President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critic.

At least 43 people die in fire at shopping mall in Bangladesh's capital

DHAKA,Bangladesh (AP) — At least 43 people died and dozens more were injured in a fire at a six-story shopping mall in the Bangladeshi capital, the health minister said Friday. Health Minister Samanta Lal Sen said the fire broke out late Thursday in the building in Dhaka’s downtown.
Perspectives
Small groups serve as vital threads in church life, weaving together individuals in fellowship, discipleship, and mission. Just as soon as a new group is launched, questions of long-term success arise. How will we measure success? How will we keep our groups on mission? What content will they teach week over week or year over year? For our groups to be sustainable, they need a system to flourish.
On Thursday afternoon, Feb. 22, SB 180, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 6 to 3 vote. It now goes to the Rules Committee to be considered for a vote by Thursday, Feb. 29, on Crossover Day.   
Doc Johnson croaked the other day. I am not being disrespectful. That’s what Doc wanted in his obituary: He croaked. Yes, that’s an unusual request, but Doc Johnson was an unusual guy. He was who he was. He was comfortable in his skin—and in his overalls, worn T-shirt, and long, scraggly hair and beard, all of which might disguise the encyclopedic mind that could reveal surprising information about most any subject.
Vance Havner (1901-1986), a Baptist prophet of an earlier generation, said: “Far too often churches have inoculated people with Christianity. Given them enough of the real thing to make them think they really have it.” Jesus said, “suffer the little children and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 19:14) He also admonished; “It is better for him if a millstone is hung around his neck and he is thrown into the sea, than that he may cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2) Jesus reserved one of his sternest warnings, to those who would lead children astray.
​George Barnard Shaw said, “There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want; the other is getting it.” America is obsessed with success. We work hard to get what we want. From the early days of our youth, competing is encouraged to reach number one, whether it’s winning the spelling bee or ranking at the top of our class. Setting our minds on a goal and pressing until we reach that goal makes us a success, we think. Success is a destination.
Business
An Uber sign is displayed inside a car in Glenview, Ill., Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Surge in Wendy's complaints exposes limits to consumer tolerance of unstable prices

NEW YORK (AP) — Consumers will pay more for a flight to Florida or for a hotel room during peak vacation times. They fork out more for a rush hour Uber ride, perhaps while grinding their teeth, and rely on apps like ParkWhiz or ParkMobile to book spots for their cars at premium prices.

Elon Musk sues OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman, claiming betrayal of its goal to benefit humanity

Elon Musk is suing OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman over what he says is a betrayal of the ChatGPT maker's founding aims of benefiting humanity rather than pursuing profits. In a lawsuit filed at San Francisco Superior Court, billionaire Musk said that when he bankrolled OpenAI's creation, he secured an agreement with Altman and Greg Brockman, the president, to keep the AI company as a non-profit that would develop technology for the benefit of the public.

Boeing given 90 days by FAA to come up with a plan to improve safety and quality of manufacturing

The Federal Aviation Administration is giving Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan to fix quality problems and meet safety standards for building new planes. The agency said Wednesday that the directive follows meetings with top Boeing officials, including the company's CEO at FAA headquarters in Washington.

US economic growth slows to 3.2% in fourth quarter, down from previous quarter's 4.9%

WASHINGTON (AP) —  U.S. economic growth slowed to a 3.2% annual pace from October through December, down from 4.9% from July through September, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday in a downgrade from its initial estimate.

Burger chain Wendy's looking to test 'surge pricing' at restaurants as early as next year

Wendy's is looking to test having the prices of its menu items fluctuate throughout the day based on demand, implementing a strategy that has already taken hold with ride-sharing companies and ticket sellers. During a conference call earlier this month, Wendy's CEO Kirk Tanner said that the Dublin, Ohio-based burger chain will start testing dynamic pricing, also known as surge pricing, as early as next year.
Sports

Sturdivant, Ndongo lead Georgia Tech to 85-76 win over Florida State in final home game

Kyle Sturdivant scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half, Baye Ndongo finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds and Georgia Tech pulled away to beat Florida State 85-76 on Saturday in the Yellow Jackets' final home game.

Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. is dealing with right knee irritation

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. has some irritation around his meniscus in his surgically repaired right knee.

Cam Johnson scores season-high 29 points to help Nets rout Hawks 124-97

NEW YORK (AP) — Cam Johnson scored a season-high 29 points, hitting a season-high seven 3-pointers in 11 attempts, to help the Brooklyn Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks 124-97 on Thursday night to open a two-game series. Fighting for the last play-in spot in the Eastern Conference, the teams will meet again at Barclays Center on Saturday.

Moore scores 23, Georgia Southern defeats Marshall 87-73

STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) — Tyren Moore had 23 points in Georgia Southern's 87-73 victory over Marshall on Wednesday night. Moore also added five rebounds for the Eagles (7-23, 7-10 Sun Belt Conference).