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BP Ledger, Monday July 25 edition

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today's BP Ledger includes items from:

Adrian Roger Pastor Training Institute

Oklahoma Baptist University

North Greenville University

Israel Government Tourist Office

World News Service

Adrian Rogers is turning 80 this year and we are going to celebrate!

BARTLETT, Tenn. (news release)--The Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute, the Adrian Rogers family, and Faith Baptist Church (Bartlett, TN) are hosting the Adrian Rogers 80th Birthday Celebration on Sunday evening, September 18 at 6:00pm. The event will be held in the Faith Baptist Church sanctuary. There are no tickets required; all are welcome.

This special event will commemorate the life and legacy of one of the greatest Christian leaders of the last 100 years, Dr. Adrian Rogers. In addition to commemorating his 50 plus years of public ministry, the event will celebrate the future extension of this legacy through the Pastor Training Institute and its deployment of the online Adrian Rogers School of Global Leadership. When finished, this state-of-the-art website will feature the training of Dr. Adrian Rogers which will educate and equip hundreds of thousands of global pastors, per month, that are unable to attend seminary due to cost and inaccessibility.

Leading the music portion of the event will be Dr. Jim Whitmire, who presently serves as minister of music as First Baptist Church, Jacksonville. Dr. Whitmire served as Dr. Rogers' ministry of music for 38 years, starting with First Baptist Merritt Island and moving onto Bellevue Baptist Church.

Whitmire recently noted, "I am honored to be able to participate in this event where we can truly celebrate the legacy of a very unique servant of the Lord. I'm so excited that the Pastor Training Institute continues to carry on Dr. Rogers' legacy. He loved preachers—especially young preachers. This was the genesis of the Pastor Training Institute. He saw himself growing older and transferring his wisdom and experience onto the next generation. I don't think he had any idea of how global it would go, as the ministry is committed to training 1,000,000 pastors in 100 countries by the year 2020."

Also joining in the festivities are musical guests Jamie and Dana Parker. Jamie presently serves as music minister for Dr. Ronnie Floyd at Cross Church (Springdale, Arkansas).


Hammond Retires After a Quarter Century on Bison Hill

SHAWNEE, Okla. (Oklahoma Baptist University)--Dr. Paul Hammond, dean of Oklahoma Baptist University's Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts, announced his retirement in spring 2011 after 25 years of service on Bison Hill. Hammond and his wife, Anne, joined the OBU faculty in 1986.


Hammond came to OBU from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., where he served as chairman of the church music department. Following the legendary Dr. James D. Woodward as dean, Hammond oversaw expansion of the College of Fine Arts in several areas and initiated the "Friends of the Arts" program to encourage support among alumni and friends of OBU. During his tenure, the College of Fine Arts has become more diverse and is much more than a music department.

"We have a vibrant art and graphic design division, excellent theatre and telecommunication programs, and many different music programs of study to fit today's profession," Hammond said. "I am pleased that the orchestra has existed now for 10 years with professional string principals. As a town-and-gown ensemble, it is comprised of 50 percent OBU students, and faculty and fine musicians from as far as a 50-mile radius. Music education remains our largest professional program, and the church music options are much more diverse. We will have choral scholarships for the first time starting in the fall."

In addition to his duties as dean, Hammond has taught courses on church music, music history and fine arts. He said he has cherished working with the students and faculty because the real satisfaction in his job comes from facilitating the teaching-learning process. In return, OBU graduates report how they have been successfully prepared for whatever field or endeavor they enter.

"OBU has always provided a balance of professional preparation, critical thinking and writing skills, and Christian growth," Hammond said. "Our students make a difference because they can stand on equal footing with their peers and show Christ through their personal lives."

Serving as dean of a fine arts college is not all work and no play, and Hammond recalled several creative performances through the years.

"There have been some very outlandish M&Ms concerts," he said. "I especially remember a band performance with floor polishers and vacuum cleaners. The Theatre for Young Audiences productions have always been hilarious, especially as I've sat with the school groups."

He also has witnessed landmark performances. He said the production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" advanced OBU Theatre and set the stage for further growth. The oratorios, conducted by world-renowned choral directors, remain highlights of his time as dean.

"Hanging of the Green has become a community-wide event that begins the Advent season for many of us," he said, noting his personal favorite annual event. "As it has evolved over the years, each presentation takes on a different theme. It is worthy of a wider audience; my desire has always been to produce a PBS show that could be aired nationwide."


During his tenure, Hammond has published a variety of articles on such subjects as "Hymns and Hymnody in Revivalism," "The Christian Lyre and Its Influences on American Hymnody" and on shape-note hymnody in America. He has served as managing director for the Oklahoma Alliance for Liturgy and the Arts, program chair for the Da Vinci Institute, an evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Music and chairman of the board of trustees for the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee. He is a member of the Program Review Advisory Board of the Commission on Teacher Preparation for Oklahoma.

His wife, Anne, also is retiring from her role as an associate professor of English and language and chair of the Language and Literature Division in the College of Arts and Sciences. However, they both will teach OBU courses in the fall, and they will stay involved at First Baptist Church in Shawnee where he has served as a deacon, trustee and choir member, among other roles including interim minister of music.

The Cincinnati natives never thought of living west of the Mississippi. After 13 years in Arkansas, Oklahoma struck them as having a more Midwestern feel. Hammond said they have greatly enjoyed the renaissance that has taken place in Oklahoma City in recent years. In the near future, they plan to stay in their adopted home of Oklahoma, although they welcome the opportunity to travel in their newfound freedom called retirement.

Located in Shawnee, Okla., OBU offers 10 bachelor's degrees with 84 fields of study. The Christian liberal arts university has an overall enrollment of 1,777, with students from 38 states and 19 other countries. OBU has been rated as one of the top 10 comprehensive colleges in the West by U.S. News and World Report for 19 consecutive years and has been Oklahoma's highest rated comprehensive college in the U.S. News rankings for 17 consecutive years. For 2011, ranked OBU as the top university in Oklahoma.


Hemphill to lead EKG initiative at NGU

After nine years, SBC approves church revitalization initiative's move

TIGERVILLE, S.C. (North Greenville University)--Dr. Ken Hemphill, National Strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has recently been named the Director of the Center for Church Planting and Revitalization (CPR) at North Greenville University. After nine years under the SBC, the EKG initiative has transferred possession to North Greenville University's Craft-Hemphill World Evangelism and Missions Center to open this fall.

Hemphill says the EKG process will continue to be a centerpiece of NGU's church revitalization strategy, but the initials CPR will be used.


"It is a bit of a play on words," said Hemphill. "CPR in the medical world stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. EKG can tell you that you have a problem, but CPR begins the process of revitalization and healing."

This is an exciting opportunity for NGU to become the center of church revitalization. The University will not only be holding conferences for church planting and revitalization, but will also be working toward a process for revitalizing the local church.

NGU plans to take ten churches through the year-long process beginning next year and will be using some of the EKG process that proved successful in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Baptist Convention (LBC) launched the EKG initiative in 2006 with 65 pilot churches. After four years, 249 churches or 18 percent of LBC churches completed at least one phase. The LBC staff researched the four-year trends associated with the EKG churches. Several relevant and significant statistics emerged that demonstrate the value of the EKG initiative.

According to John L. Yeats' article Making an Effective Difference for the Kingdom: EKG Strategy Demonstrates Measurable Gains: EKG churches baptized twice as many as the not-yet EKG churches; giving showed an average increase of 13 percent; EKG churches on average tended to invest a larger portion of their resources to cooperative mission work. EKG churches also gave an average of 41 percent more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (LMO), while not-yet EKG churches increased their average giving to the LMO by only 12 percent.

Another statistic Yeats mentioned was the support of the Southern Baptist World Hunger Offering (WHO). EKG churches gave an average of 33.45 percent more to this mission; not-yet EKG churches, decreased their giving to the WHO by an average of 15.25 percent.

In addition, Cooperative Program giving increased by an average of 2.15 percent. They also increased giving to the Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions by 14.7 percent.

"It is my goal to involve NGU's ministry track students in the revitalization process so that when they graduate, they will have both the knowledge and ability to be instruments through whom God brings revitalization," said Hemphill.

Hemphill believes the revitalization component is critical since as many as 80 percent of North American churches' membership have plateaued or are declining. The NGU students will have an unparalleled opportunity to be involved in an incredible Kingdom initiative.

Hemphill is the former president of the largest evangelical seminary in the world, Southwestern Theological Seminary, in Fort Worth, Texas. He served as director of the Southern Baptist Center for Church Growth in Atlanta, a joint venture of the Home Mission Board and the Sunday School Board of the SBC. He previously served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Norfolk, Virginia, taking the congregation from a membership of less than 1,000 in 1981 to almost 7,000 in 1992.


Hemphill holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from Wake Forest University, a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy in New Testament from Cambridge University.

He is the author of many books and evangelistic material: Splash; Core Convictions; Kingdom Promise Series; Prayer of Jesus; Names of God; got life?; Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur; EKG:The Heartbeat of God; Eternal Impact; You Are Gifted, and Live it Up.

Hemphill currently teaches in the Master of Christian Ministry degree program at NGU's T. Walter Brashier Graduate School and will also take on a role in the new Doctor of Ministry degree program beginning this fall.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The transfer of EKG to North Greenville University was first noted in Baptist Press' June 14 report from the SBC Executive Committee's meeting prior to the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix and BP's June 14 story on the Executive Committee report to the convention.)


Site of Jesus' baptism now open daily

Israel Completes Upgrade of One of the Most Important Sites for Christian Tourists

New York, N.Y. (Israel Government Tourist Office)--The baptism site on the River Jordan known as Qasr el Yahud is now open to the public, free of charge, seven days a week after much investment in the infrastructure to improve the spiritual experience and physical comfort of Christian tourists and pilgrims.

Qasr el Yahud is one of the most important sites for Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. It is considered to be the site where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist baptized Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). The site is also considered to be the place where the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan when they entered Canaan.

"The renovations at Qasr el Yahud will make this amazing site even more transforming for our dear Christian friends," said Haim Gutin, Israel Tourism Commissioner, North and South America. "We know that when Christian travelers visit Israel and are baptized in the River Jordan their lives and faith will never be the same."

Because of the importance of the site, which is located on the road to Jericho from Jerusalem, many churches were built here over the centuries. The Tourism Ministry, among others, has invested about $2.3 million in renovating and upgrading the site. The upgrades include the construction of wooden ramps into the Jordan River to allow pilgrims easy and comfortable access to the waters for baptism; erecting shaded areas for prayer sessions, upgraded bathroom, shower, and parking facilities. The site is also wheelchair accessible.


For more information about travel to Israel, please visit


Christian Communities in Nigeria Disappearing

Islamist attacks drive Christians from two villages in Bauchi state; two Christians dead.

By Obed Minchakpu/World News Service

MDANDI, Nigeria (World News Service)--In a village outside this Bauchi state town in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria, what was once a Christian community has vanished.

Last March the Christian peasant farmers of Mdandi village, five miles northwest of the Government Girls Secondary School in Tafawa Balewa town, harvested crops and prepared for a new farming season. On Mar. 27 scores of armed, hard-line Islamists descended on Mdandi, destroyed the Christians' homes and drove them out, former residents said.

The violence began on Jan. 27, when Muslims burned a Christian's billiards table. That event sparked a fight between Muslim and Christian youths.

"On their first attack, we fought back, defending ourselves and our families," said Luka Zafi, pastor of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) congregation in the village. "And not being able to force us out, they retreated. We had thought that we would not be attacked again. But you see, they left and returned the second time with more of them, and all armed with guns. We could not fight back since we do not have arms to fight them. We ran out of the village, and they destroyed our two church buildings and our houses."

Pastor Zafi, whose house was gutted in the Mar. 27 attack, said his church building along with a Roman Catholic Church building were set ablaze. Area Christians are now living as displaced persons in Tafawa Balewa town, while some of his members have moved to the suburb of Nahuta village.

Prior to the attacks, Pastor Zafi's church had 50 members, he said; they are now scattered among various villages. A Compass News Direct visit to the village found Muslim Fulani nomads had taken it over and were using it to graze their cattle.

The marauders were Islamists from other parts of Bauchi state collaborating with local Muslims and Fulani herdsmen. They target Christians and bypass surrounding Muslim communities.

Pastor Zafi lamented that three months after the attacks, the Christians have received no assistance from the state or federal governments. "We appeal that they help resettle my people back in Mdandi village," he said. "The government can do this by assisting the community to rebuild their destroyed churches and houses."

One reason the government has been slow to check Islamist aggression is that neither officials nor Western news agencies question false claims that the ethnic Seyawa Christians steal the Fulani Muslim herdsmen's cattle, the supposed reason for the Fulani attacks, according to area Christians. They said many people are not aware that some local Christian farmers also own cattle and have never stolen them from the Muslim nomads.


Because the religious crisis in neighboring Plateau state has also been portrayed as communal property squabbles, the government has limited its response and many lives of Christians have been lost because of inaction, they said.

Pastor Zafi said the need for the government to halt the attacks of the Muslim militants in northern Nigeria was more important than restoring the Christians' property.

"Unless this is done, I am afraid, Christians in this part of the country may be on their way to extinction," he told Compass.

Following the gutting of their church building, his congregation used the primary school in Nahuta village as their worship place, he said.

"But because we did not have houses to live in around there, we had to disperse to the various villages in search of abodes," he said. "So the church members no longer meet to worship together."

COCIN has reassigned Pastor Zafi to assist with another church in Nahuta village as an associate pastor.

Nigeria's population of more than 158.2 million is divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population and live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent of the population and live mainly in the north. The percentages may be less, however, as those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World.

EDITOR'S NOTE: See BP Ledger from July 18 for another report on violence directed at Christians in northern Nigeria.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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