For the week of April 3, 2003
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees have chosen
a Louisiana pastor as their new chair. Tommy French was elected to the post
during a recent meeting. French is pastor at Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton
Rouge and a former Louisiana Baptist Convention president. In addition, trustees
approved a $1.75 million renovation of Farnsworth Apartments and $2.7 million
for expansion of Providence Guest House. President Chuck Kelley said the housing
projects are needed because the seminary is on pace to break enrollment records.
Officials also noted the seminary has exceeded an initial challenge goal in
its ongoing New Horizons fund-raising campaign. To date, the campaign has raised
$12.4 million in pledges and gifts, surpassing the $12 million challenge mark.
Finally, trustees elected Reggie Ogea as associate professor of leadership and
pastoral ministry and director of the doctor of ministry degree program. Ogea
has been serving as director of missions for the St. Tammany Baptist Association.
War and religion
Where do people develop their views of the war on Iraq? Mostly
from the media, a new poll indicates. In the mid-March Pew Research Center poll,
41 percent of persons said the media most influences their views on the war.
This was followed by personal experience (16 percent), education (11 percent),
religious beliefs (10 percent) and friends and family (7 percent). Indeed, only
17 percent of persons who attend religious services at least once a month said
their faith views have influenced their opinions of the war. Thirty-three percent
said the opinions of religions leaders have had at least a “great deal”
or “some” influence on their views. Only 7 percent said the opinions
of Hollywood celebrities has had influence.
The terrorists responsible for the death of Southern Baptist
missionary Bill Hyde are “not a representation of the Filipino people who
my husband, sons and I dearly love,” his wife, Lyn, said in a recent statement.
Hyde, 59, was killed March 4 in a bomb blast at the airport in Davao City in
the Philippines. In recent comments, his wife thanked persons for their support.
“For almost 25 years, my husband, Bill, and I have been Southern Baptist
missionaries in the Philippines,” she said. “This once-foreign land
has become our home where we have planted our lives.” Hyde said the “willing
investment” of their lives was merely a result of their relationship with
Jesus. She also said the airport bombing is a reminder of the fragility of life.
“Bill knew this fullness of life with Jesus as its source, …” she
said. “God believed the Filipinos were – and are – worth dying
for. My husband, Bill, believed that, too. No one took his life. Bill gave his
life. He was where God wanted him.”
Leaders of religious relief and aid organizations are warning
that Ethiopia is again on the brink of famine and calling for greater funding
and attention for the African country and its neighbors. Leaders noted that
more people currently are affected than in 1984, when a food shortage claimed
1 million lives. Leaders have asked members of Congress to support $350 million
in additional food and nonfood aid from the U.S. government for Ethiopia and
other countries affected by drought. When famine hit Ethiopia in the mid-1980s,
it prompted worldwide interest and response. But the conflict with Iraq has
focused attention elsewhere. Despite that, relief officials said the food crisis
in Africa needs to be heeded. “As faith-based agencies, we have no choice
but to raise the issue of Ethiopia now,” one leader said.
The Southern Baptist Annuity Board has announced a new investment option for
most retirement plan participants. The Capital Preservation Fund now is available
as the 14th mutual fund choice in the AB Funds Trust plan. Unlike the other
13, the new fund is not a registered fund. It will have a quarterly crediting
rate applied to all contributions. For the second quarter of 2003, the annualized
rate is 2.54 percent. Officials said the option was developed to respond to
requests for an investment choice that stresses preservation of principal but
offers a more attractive return than a money market fund. The new fund will
look to maximize participants current income while seeking to maintain
– but not guaranteeing – a stable price per share of $10. The fund will post
monthly dividends. The fund is available to 403(b) and other employer-sponsored
retirement plan participants. It is not available to participants in IRAs, Personal
Investment Accounts and most 401(k) plans. Contributions and earnings to the
Capital Preservation Fund will be subject to a 2 percent redemption fee in certain
market environments. For details, call (800) 262-0511 or visit www.absbc.org.
Many churches may have unknown funds available to them that can be found by
searching the Louisiana Treasury Web site for unclaimed property. Unclaimed
property could include such things as savings and checking accounts, insurance
refunds or claims and uncashed checks. Typically, the property is turned over
by holder to the state after a period of time. As a service to citizens, the
state treasury collects unclaimed property from holders who cannot find the
rightful owners. This unclaimed property then is held in a special trust fund
until claimed by the rightful owner. Churches can search for any unclaimed property
that may belong to them by visiting www.treasury.state.la.us/ and clicking on
the “search unclaimed property” icon. If any property is found, a
claim can be filed online, or claims forms can be downloaded. Searches also
can be conducted at www.unclaimedproperty.org, as well as www.missingmoney.com.