By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Louisiana Baptists are in the final year of implementing the President’s 2020 Commission Report, an initiative undertaken during the leadership of Waylon Bailey, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Covington, and the LBC president in 2012-2013.
The 2020 recommendations were crafted collaboratively by a commission of 400 Louisiana Baptist leaders, staff members and laypeople, working in 20 subcommittees of 20 members each. Ten “key actions in reaching our state” – known as KAIROS – were developed to engage two audiences – the next generation and every people group. These measures for improving the spiritual health and growth of the state were adopted by messengers at the 2013 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.
This is the final article in a series published by the Baptist Message to report what successes have been achieved toward the ambitious goals of the statewide initiative, as well as to note what objectives remain to be done.
KAIROS 10 – Lead Louisiana Baptists to maximize their collective influence in the arena of moral and cultural concerns, especially in strengthening families.
The 2020 Commission recommended three specific goals:
- Continue to expand the interaction between the LBC Office of Public Policy and the State of Louisiana Administration, Judiciary, and Legislature.
- Create a network for informing and involving Louisiana Baptist members and congregations about legal, social, and moral issues that need Christian engagement. The Office of Public Policy will report on progress.
- Continue to develop strategies that help Louisiana Baptists minister to children in distress. The Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home will keep the LBC informed on progress.
The Office of Public Policy represents Louisiana Baptists regarding moral issues, social concerns and religious liberty matters and works at all levels of government to develop public policy that represents Louisiana Baptists’ consensus views.
Since 2015, the Office of Public Policy has helped translate 11 Louisiana Baptist resolutions into state laws that: established separate legislative task forces to reduce divorce and to protect children from online pornography; provided immunity for churches who, in trying to prevent sexual assaults, show good faith in reporting to future employers about concerns regarding a former employee’s suspected sexual misconduct; and, defeated the attempt to move a riverboat casino to Tangipahoa Parish.
The Office of Public Policy also has worked with a coalition of like-minded groups and individuals to pass essential pro-life legislation and has taken a lead role in the statewide ballot measure known as the Love Life Amendment, a constitutional change that will prevent a state judge from overturning common sense protections for mothers and their unborn babies.
Finally, the Office of Public Policy has worked on issues important to Louisiana Baptists life, work and ministry, helping to push to expand broadband internet into the 40 percent of our state that is rural, and working with national leaders to include churches, evangelists and ministries in the C.A.R.E.S. Act so that those seeking Payroll Protection Program loans would have access to them.
The Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries, has continued long-time ministries such as housing children in on campus cottages, but since 2012 has begun several new ministries:
- Connect 1:27 foster care and adoption network provides individuals and churches a toolkit to be a “helper to the orphan.” Louisiana Baptist families have cared for more than 400 children through this program.
- Compassion for Kids offers ministry designed to meet the basic life needs of 2,700 economically-challenged children and their families in Northeast Louisiana. Projects are conducted in partnership with local churches and include providing food, clothing shoes, school supplies, and more.
- HomePlace offers homeless women and their children a place to stay for six to 12 months at no cost to the residents, and their stay can be extended. More than 500 women and their children have participated in the program since its inception in 2010. While there, the women may work toward their high school equivalency and receive life and job training through the Christian Women’s Job Corps. Perry Hancock, president and CEO of the Children’s Home, said future plans include the development of care strategies for child victims of human trafficking and residential care for women who are victims of domestic violence.
“The development of new ministries since 2012 has been made possible through the many ways our churches and convention support the Children’s Home,” Hancock said. “Louisiana Baptists have a strong desire to provide love, care, and hope in Christ for children and families in need. We are so grateful for the life-changing support.”