BALTIMORE (AP) — It was the middle of the night when a dispatcher’s warning crackled over the radio: A massive cargo ship had lost its steering capabilities and was heading toward the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Within about 90 seconds, police officers responded that they had managed to stop vehicle traffic over the Baltimore bridge in both directions. One said he was about to drive onto the bridge to alert a construction crew.

BALTIMORE (AP) — A cargo ship lost power and rammed into a major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, destroying the span in a matter of seconds and plunging it into the river in a terrifying collapse that could disrupt a vital shipping port for months. Six people were missing and presumed dead.

Jeff Iorg, retiring president of Gateway Seminary, was elected as the next Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee president/CEO during a special-called trustee meeting in Dallas, Thursday, March 21. Iorg transitions to the new role after 20 years at Gateway. He enters the position at a crucial moment in SBC life, as the EC copes with financial and legal challenges amid the denomination’s reckoning with sexual abuse and declining baptisms, among other concerns.

Adam Greenway, who was forced out as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in September 2022, filed a personal injury lawsuit against the seminary and the past chair of its trustee board. The lawsuit, filed March 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, asserts the seminary administration and the then chairman of the trustee board, “began a defamatory campaign against Dr. Greenway that included both specific false statements, along with publication of a narrative that created a substantially false and defamatory impression.”

MAKUENI, Kenya (AP) — On a dry riverbed one recent sunny morning, residents of Kasengela village toiled away mixing cement and sand to make concrete. The sound of their shovels resonated through the valley while other residents, working in pairs, carried rocks to the site in wooden frames.

CHATSWORTH, Ga. — After 45 years of a pastoral, teaching, and mentoring ministry and almost a quarter of a century as pastor of Holly Creek Baptist Church in Chatsworth, Dr. Danny Cochran has retired from full-time ministry. His fervent prayer is that he will be able to continue to encourage pastors and help churches as God grants him the opportunity to do so.

SUWANEE, Ga. — With a final count now complete, Georgia Baptist churches saw a 40% increase in baptisms over the past year and a more than 106% increase since 2020. Steve Foster, an evangelism consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said reports from the state’s churches showed 21,151 new believers were baptized in 2023, up from 15,127 in 2022.

SUWANEE, Ga. — Pastors are comfortable with artificial intelligence for graphic design and marketing but not for preparing sermons, the Barna Group found in a survey done earlier this year. Barna, an organization that monitors cultural and religious trends in the U.S., said in an article that concerns among pastors about artificial intelligence appear to be easing for some administrative tasks.

For over a quarter of a century, from 1895 to 1921, the Woman’s Missionary Union of Georgia published a monthly paper called The Mission Messenger. In the beginning, it was written and published by a small band of volunteers, mostly state WMU officers. They understood the need to inform and inspire the Baptists women of Georgia to support missions. The early editions were four pages long, and a subscription cost 10 cents a year.

CLEVELAND, Ga. — Truett McConnell University hosted a Friends and Family Weekend on Friday and Saturday for students, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, and partners for a variety of exciting activities. The featured speaker for the special weekend was Riley Gaines, who was introduced by University President Dr. Emir Caner as a 12-time All-American swimmer for the University of Kentucky with 5 SEC titles.

SUWANEE, Ga. — Georgia Baptist churches have been posting some impressive numbers when it comes to baptisms and Cooperative Program giving. W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said Cooperative Program giving was up 10.6% in January and February compared to the same two months last year, and that the baptism count was up more than 40% in the past year.

ATLANTA, Ga. — Georgia Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson’s announcement that he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that has spread to his liver has triggered an outpouring of prayer from his fellow Southern Baptists across the state. Thompson, a member of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, said he will provide updates on his health as they become available.

BOWMAN, Ga. — A spiritual movement that began in Georgia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing in Bowman where 60 people made salvation decisions at a Wednesday evening wild game dinner. “It was incredible,” said Chris Pritchett, pastor at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church where some 550 people had tickets for the meal that included bison, duck, wild boar, rabbit, and alligator,

SUWANEE, Ga. — After a couple of stress-filled years, the majority of America’s pastors are feeling better about their ministries. That’s according to research from the Barna Group, an organization that monitors cultural and religious trends in the U.S. In an article last week, the Barna Group said 90 percent of pastors surveyed said they felt more confident in their calls to ministry than they did when they first started, a sure sign that the nation’s preachers are no long feeling “discouraged, depleted and defeated by their day-to-day work.”

CLEVELAND, GA – John Yarbrough has one of the most impressive ministerial resumes imaginable.  He has been a successful pastor. He has academic credentials to be envied. His denominational engagement on the associational, state, and national levels is extraordinary. His preaching opportunities have taken him to 48 states and seven foreign countries.

More than 1,300 pastors and other Christian leaders gathered for the Called to Witness evangelism conferences, which have been held at locations across the state over the past month. The latest conference was held at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton.  Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. said the annual evangelism conferences play an important role in inspiring the state’s 1.4 million Georgia Baptists to reach out to the estimated 7 million people in the state who don’t go to church. They made gains in that work over the past year, with Georgia Baptist churches recording nearly 21,000 baptisms, the largest number since 2016.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Mark Marshall, a longtime pastor and former Lifeway Christian Resources director who has been serving as assistant executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for the past four years, has transitioned into the role of senior lead strategist overseeing church strengthening efforts. The Mission Board’s executive director, W. Thomas Hammond Jr., made the announcement Tuesday at a meeting of the Georgia Baptist Executive Committee.

TIFTON, Ga. — Amid a secular culture prone to reject the gospel, Christians must be more persistent than ever to fearlessly proclaim the name of Jesus, preachers told Georgia Baptists who gathered Monday at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton for the final day of a two-day evangelism conference. “In the time and place and culture we live in, there is a growing conspiracy against the name of Jesus, but we must not be afraid or ashamed to proclaim who He is and what He has done,” said H.B. Charles, pastor at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

MACON, Ga. — Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon announced Dr. Justin Nalls as its next lead pastor Sunday after a nine-month search. Ingleside’s Pastor Search Committee and Board of Overseers recommended Dr. Nalls as the lead pastor candidate on Feb. 15 via a church e-newsletter and video. The church body voted him in as its next lead pastor on Sunday at an afternoon called church conference.

TIFTON, Ga. — Georgia Baptists passionate about sharing the gospel shouldn’t be deterred by church folks “looking like they were weaned on dill pickles.” Instead, they should gladly share the good news with others, regardless of where they live or how they live. That was the combined message of two preachers at the latest of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Called to Witness evangelism conferences that began Sunday night in Tifton.

KURIGA, Nigeria (AP) — Rashidat Hamza is in despair. All but one of her six children are among the nearly 300 students abducted from their school in Nigeria’s northwest, riddled with Islamic extremists and armed gangs.

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — It was an easy decision for First Baptist Church of Peachtree City to financially support Mission Georgia, the statewide outreach to orphaned children, human trafficking victims, and others in need. “We believe the causes that Mission Georgia engages are critically important to God,” said Pastor Joey Rodgers. “They are also causes our church has traditionally prioritized.” First Baptist of Peachtree City led the state in giving to the Mission Georgia offering over the past year, contributing $23,623.50 to help the Georgia Baptist Mission Board bring hope and healing to the hurting while compassionately sharing the gospel.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Nashville newspaper reported Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice has wrapped up a year-and-a-half-long investigation that sought to determine whether Southern Baptist Convention leaders were criminally responsible for mishandling sexual abuse allegations. The Tennessean said federal investigators concluded the probe last week without charging any SBC leaders.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth, he declared, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17). When Christ saves an individual, that person does not remain the same. A transformation takes place.

TIFTON, Ga. — Final arrangements are underway for the latest in a series of Called to Witness evangelism conferences that begins Sunday evening at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event that will provide inspiration to go tell others about Christ and information on the most effective ways to do it.

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