For the week of December 11, 2003
Gifts through the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program totaled more than $15.9
million last month, a decrease of $202,847 (1.3 percent) from the previous November.
Two months into the conventions fiscal year, overall gifts total
almost $31.7 million, an increase of about $1.8 million (5.9 percent) from the
same time last year. The total also stands about $1.1 million (3.7 percent)
ahead of budget. Meanwhile, designated gifts totaled almost $4.7 million last
month, an increase of $1.2 million (33.6 percent) from the previous November.
The two-month tally totals about $8.1 million, an increase of $1.8 million (28.8
percent) from the same time last year.
Bible study cartoons
Louisiana Baptist pastor Joe McKeever has announced the availability of cartoons
for use in conjunction with the Winter Bible Study on I and II Timothy. McKeever
is pastor at First Baptist Church of Kenner and a featured cartoonist in the
Baptist Message and other state Baptist newspapers from time to time. While
Winter Bible Study cartoons have been available by mail in previous years, McKeever
said this years selections may be viewed and downloaded at his churchs
Web site – www.fbckenner.org. They are
available free of charge and may be reproduced and distributed in various ways.
Other cartoons also are available at the Web site.
Key church-state case
The U.S. Supreme Court appeared closely divided during recent oral arguments
in a case that could have enormous ramifications for the future of government
funding for religious institutions. In the case, in 1999, Washington resident
Joshua Davey received state-funded tuition grants – or vouchers – given
to disadvantaged Washington students. Davey elected to spend his scholarship
at a Seattle-area Bible college affiliated with the Assemblies of God. However,
the state revoked the scholarship when Davey declared a double major that included
pastoral ministries. State officials cited a provision in Washingtons
constitution that prohibits the state from spending any money on religious instruction.
Davey then sued. He lost his first round but won an appeal, thus sending the
case to the nations highest court. There, the question is not whether
providing government funding to religious schools via vouchers violates the
First Amendment but whether the government, in some cases, must fund religious
education. Observers agree the decision could have significant impact. A ruling
for Davey could obligate states to include qualified religious entities in any
program in which the states include private entities. A ruling is expected to
be issued by next summer.
The move to protect the traditional definition of marriage within the U.S.
Constitution took another step forward recently when the Federal Marriage Amendment
was introduced in the Senate. Sen. Wayne Allard, R.-Colo., introduced the amendment
on the Senate floor. While several senators had expressed support for an amendment
in recent months, it had yet to be introduced officially. The proposal reads:
“Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man
and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor
state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the
legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”
The amendment faces a tough road. Final passage would require approval by two-thirds
of both the House and Senate and ratification by three-fourths of the states.
Barring the press
A state convention president has announced he will seek to bar a Baptist publication
in Missouri from attending or reporting on state Baptist meetings. Missouri
Baptist Convention President David Tolliver recently informed the editor of
the Word & Way newspaper that its staff no longer will be allowed to attend
convention meetings, including executive board sessions and committee meetings.
Tolliver said he also will attempt to bar Word & Way from the 2004 annual
convention. Tolliver explained that his “directive” is a result of
the action the Word & Way and four other convention agencies took to establish
self-perpetuating trustee boards. The Missouri Baptist Convention has filed
suit to force the boards of the five entities to rescind their charter changes.
Tolliver said the lawsuit prompted the action and is designed to prevent litigants
from having direct communication with one another. He said the directive would
be removed as soon as the litigation is settled. He agreed a Word & Way
staff member probably could attend the state convention as a messenger but voiced
hope the person would not represent the paper.
The number of hungry families in the United States rose last year, census figures
show. In 2002, an estimated 3.8 million American families were hungry to the
point where someone in the house skipped meals because they could not afford
them. That marks a jump of 8.6 percent from 2001 and 13 percent from 2000. Also,
some 12 million American families reported feeling unsure if they could afford
to eat or not having enough food on hand. That figure was up 5 percent from
2001 and 8 percent from 2000. The census report noted most families sought to
feed children first. But it also noted one or more children in 265,000 families
missed meals on occasions because of a lack of food.
When children ask “Why?” as a result of a traumatic life event, children
should be given appropriate and honest answers, said Ann Miller, director of
pastoral care at Cook Childrens Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. At
a recent conference, Miller identified trust as the principal factor needed
in helping children cope with trauma. After high-level trauma or an injury,
a consistency of trust allows a child to develop courage, hope and love, ultimately
leading to healing, she said. “There are some things that well never
understand this side of heaven,” she acknowledged. “But one of the
things we have to do with children dealing with tragedy is answer any questions
that we can and let them know they can trust us.” Miller emphasized three
key steps toward helping a child recover from trauma – establish safety,
allow remembrance and mourning and develop reconnection. Unfortunately, children
often are seen as non-persons in tragedies, Miller said, urging parents and
workers to avoid that trap.