For the week of November 6, 2003
Church conflict events
A series of five conferences on church conflict have been planned across Louisiana
in November. The “Understanding Church Conflict” conferences are being
sponsored by the Louisiana Baptist Convention church-minister relations office.
The conferences will be led by Leonard Dupree, director of church-minister relations
for the Georgia Baptist convention. They are designed to help persons gain an
understanding of the dynamics of church conflict. Conferences are set for Nov.
17 at 8:30 a.m. to noon at Forest Glade Baptist Church in West Monroe and at
5:30 to 9 p.m. at Donahue Family Church in Pineville; Nov. 18 at 8:30 to noon
at the Carey Baptist Association office in Lake Charles and at 5:30 to 9 p.m.
at Northside Baptist Church in Lafayette; and Nov. 19 at 8:30 to noon at the
Northshore Baptist Association office in Hammond.
The 2003 Louisiana Baptist Youth Evangelism Celebration has been set for Nov.
23-25 at the Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria. The theme of this years gathering
is “Connect.” The schedule includes various musical guests and speakers,
including the group Audio Adrenaline and speaker Voddie Baucham. The schedule
also features several small-group sessions on various topics, including victory
over personal sin, making a difference on school campuses, overcoming sexual
temptation and dealing with media influence. The conference is set to open Nov.
23 at 6 p.m. (registration begins at 2 p.m.), with the evening featuring a concert
by Downhere. The Monday schedule features a concert by Audio Adrenaline. The
gathering is set to close Tuesday at 11 a.m. Cost for the entire conference
is $30 per person if preregistered by Nov. 10. After that date, the cost is
$35 per person. Those not attending the conference still can buy tickets to
attend either or both of the planned concerts. That cost for conference non-participants
is $15 per person per concert. Call (800) 622-6549 or (318) 448-3402
for information or to register.
Louisiana College action
Louisiana College administrators have removed two books from the school bookstore
– “A Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck and “A Lesson Before
Dying” by Ernest Gaines. However, even though the books have been removed,
LC President Rory Lee has acknowledged the schools policy on academic
freedom was not followed in the matter. “The bottom line is I violated
the policy,” he said in an article in the Louisiana College Wildcat newspaper.
“I went against procedure (because) Im not in the chain of decision-making
(in such a situation).” The policy calls for formal complaint and a set
process. However, Lee ordered the books removed after receiving complaints from
a pastor in the spring and from a student this fall. Both of the books are used
in a values class and have been part of the course for 10 years. However, the
student reportedly complained about use of a profanity in Pecks book and
about a sex scene in Gaines volume. The books were not being used this
semester but were scheduled for use in the spring. However, Lee said he has
asked the coordinator of the values program to meet with professors of the courses
to discuss the matter. He also said the school trustees plan to review the policy
on academic freedom at its December meeting. In the Wildcat article, one of
the professors involved said this was the first time they had received complaints
about either of the books. He also said that the student involved turned down
offers to substitute other material and did not possess the right to select
textbooks for all other students.
In the midst of destructive wildfires in California, local Baptists are continuing
to minister. Churches have helped evacuate fire victims and house refugees.
Southern Baptist chaplains have helped counsel those who lost homes and possessions
and even loved ones as a result of the blazes. The fires had destroyed more
than 1,000 homes and claimed close to 20 lives late last week. Meanwhile, churches
are responding, not only to minister to their own members but to the community
at large. For instance, one church is providing clothing and food vouchers to
those in need. Others are serving food and supplies, including dust masks and
bottles of water. One local association was mobilizing relief units, including
mobile showers and kitchens. Others were awaiting assessments to respond in
force. “We just want to show the love of Jesus,” said one person involved
in early efforts. “Were trying to do everything we can to meet their
Childrens home news
Louisiana Baptist Childrens Home trustees recently adopted a budget for
the upcoming year and approved plans to build a new facility on campus. Trustees
approved a 2004 budget of $4,010,386, an increase of $124,936 (3.2 percent)
from the current year. In addition, trustees approved plans to build a new “commissary”
for the home. The facility is used to store food, linens, household supplies,
school uniforms and various donated gifts for children. The current facility
is more than 50 years old and provides inadequate space. In addition, its current
refrigeration equipment is inefficient, leaders noted. The new facility is designed
to meet the storage needs. Construction on it is set to begin by years
end and be completed by May 2004. The Louisiana Baptist Convention Mission Builder
Program will assist on the project, helping to construct the interior of the
facility. Home leaders say that assistance will provide tremendous cost savings.
They also note that persons can be involved in the project – personally
or financially – by calling the home at (318) 343-2244. In one other
action, home trustees approved a partnership with the state convention counseling
for Louisiana Baptist ministers and their families. Details of the partnership
will be presented in next weeks Baptist Message.
Countries of concern
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has presented President
George Bush with its 2003 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.
In the report, the commission urges the State Department to add Saudi Arabia,
India, Laos, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam to its “countries of particular
concern,” a designation for nations viewed as “egregious” violators
of religious freedom. Six countries already hold that designation – Burma,
China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Sudan.
A $30,000 deal to bring a glitzy United Methodist ad campaign to the heart
of Times Square in New York City has been rejected because of its religious
content. The United Methodist Church signed a deal to show a 30-second video
spot on a 22-story electronic billboard on the Reuters building. But after the
signing, Reuters rejected the contract because its policies prohibit ads for
products or services that are “pornographic, political, religious, libelous,
misleading or deceptive in nature.” Church officials blasted the company
for displaying ads for beer but rejecting messages about how people can bring
order and peace to their lives. Officials say advertisements on the 11-screen
Reuters billboard are seen by 1.5 million people per day. Methodist leaders
were seeking to run their ad 10 times daily, including during the Macys
Thanksgiving Day parade. Officials for the ad agency that signed the deal apologized
for the oversight, taking the blame for not following established policy for
Reuters. However, Methodist leader Larry Hollon said: “A policy that arbitrarily
shuts out religious organizations from speaking in the public marketplace is
discriminatory. I will continue to speak out against such discrimination.”
Retired Southern Baptist professor, Ray Frank Robbins, 87, died Oct. 26. He
was living in St. Joseph at the time of his death. Robbins received a bachelor
of arts degree from Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss.; a masters of
theology degree and doctorate in theology from Southern Baptist Theological
Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a doctorate of philosophy from the University
of Edinburgh. He taught at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham
from 1946 until 1952, when he began teaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary. After his retirement, Robbins was named professor emeritus of New
Testament and Greek by the NOBTS board of trustees. He went on to teach as senior
professor and visiting scholar in the department of religion at Mississippi
College. Robbins also authored several books including “The Revelation
of Jesus Christ,” “The Life and Ministry of Our Lord” and “How
We Got Our Bible.” A memorial service is scheduled for Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
at First Baptist Church, Talladega, Ala., and a second service in Provine Chapel
on the campus of Mississippi College Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. Robbins was preceded
in death by his first wife, Louise, and his second wife, Iris. He is survived
by four children and 10 grandchildren.