Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
North American Mission Board Disaster Relief
World Congress of Families
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
University of the Cumberlands
Compass Direct News (Nepal)
ALPHARETTA, Ga. (NAMB DR)--April 14-19 Tornado Outbreak
For six days a line of severe thunderstorms spawned numerous tornados from Oklahoma, through parts of the south and into New England. Following is a summary of responses reported by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) teams have worked intensely since Thursday night and are about to conclude their initial response with assessors, chaplains, chain saw, feeding, showers, and incident command units. Tushka and Atoka County had 149 totally destroyed homes, 47 sustained major damage and 33 minor damage. It was rated an EF-3 tornado that video confirmed had three vortexes swirling together it was ½ mile wide and was on the ground for 7 miles.
Mississippi Baptist disaster Relief volunteers have responded with assessment, feeding and chainsaw teams in three main areas. These areas are Clinton, DeKalb, and Leakesville, MS. They have been serving around 1,500 meals per day and operations are closing today (Tuesday) in Clinton and Leakesville. Mississippi Baptists are also helping to apply blue tarps to homes with roof damage. Four teams of volunteers have worked on about 20 homes. In Clinton, Southern Baptist volunteers are assisting The Salvation Army by answering phones as they raise money for local residents.
North Carolina was the most heavily damaged from this outbreak. It has been reported that 20 NC counties experienced extensive damage from severe weather on April 16. North Carolina Baptists have 12 sites doing mainly debris/chainsaw cleanup, blue tarp and temporary repair. They have 2 feeding units deployed and have prepared over 6000 meals in partnership with the American Red Cross. North Carolina also has several feeding operations in church kitchens to feed shelter residents and volunteers. Chaplaincy, shower, administration and other ministries are also deployed. One unique idea they are experimenting with is to send an EMT out with assessors to do health checkups for residents as they conduct assessments.
Bill Cantrell, State DR Director for Arkansas reports, "I have deployed three recovery units to the Wilson/Osceola area that has about 30 recovery jobs for the units to start working on now. The teams will be staying at East Side Baptist Church in Osceola. The rest of the state seems to have missed having major damage; all that is being reported are trees on public roads. The local officials are taking care of those."
Photo left: Arkansas Baptist chainsaw team member working on downed tree.
View more photos of the team's efforts on the Arkansas Baptist DR Facebook page.
Saturday storms also brought heavy damage to Virginia, especially the southeast parts of the Commonwealth. In Gloucester County three people were killed as a result of the storm.
Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia (SBCV) chainsaw teams responded in Isle of Wight County, working at two homes where trees were downed. Assessment teams from multiple SBCV churches were among those to respond immediately following the tornados. Three Chainsaw teams are currently at work in James City County and several recovery teams are at work in Gloucester County. It is anticipated that additional in-state callouts will be requested in the coming days to conduct relief operations in Gloucester County.
Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB) Disaster Relief volunteers are serving in the Gloucester, VA area. Two assessors worked through the Emergency Operations Center and determined that most of the needs were being met by local assets. There are at least four Baptist General Association of Virginia churches coordinating their own response efforts in their local communities. VBMB Disaster Relief is supporting one church with a shower unit which is deploying tomorrow (Wednesday). They have additional assets ready to support these churches as needed.
Read more about the deadly storms and Southern Baptist response efforts in the April 18 Baptist Press story
Illinois Disaster Relief chainsaw teams are working in Carbondale area and Saline County while assessment teams are investigating damage in Macoupin County and the Carmi/Belle Rive/Waltonville areas.
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) Disaster Relief volunteers continue to respond to the needs of those impacted by the fires burning across Texas. Currently SBTC Disaster Relief volunteers are responding in coordination with Texas Baptist Men (TBM) Disaster Relief volunteers in Fort Davis, Texas providing ministry through assessments, chaplaincy, and cleanup and recovery efforts. Volunteers are being housed at Davis Mountain Baptist Church. Volunteers are also serving in Strawn, Texas coordinating with The Salvation Army to provide meals for fire fighters. Volunteers are being housed at FBC Gordon.
National Level Exercise and "Great Shake Out" 2011
NLE 2011 is May 16-20 and Southern Baptists along with our national partners, local and federal government agencies and other disaster response organizations will be involved in this important drill. The scenario involves multiple devastating earthquakes along the New Madrid fault near Memphis, TN and St. Louis, MO. In preparation for this event, citizens are being asked to participate in "The Great Shake Out" held on various dates depending up the region of the country; the central US Shake Out will be April 28, 2011.
Madrid Selected as Site of World Congress of Families VI in 2012
ROCKFORD, Ill. (Christian Newswire)--At a recent meeting of the International Selection Committee, Madrid was unanimously recommended as the site of World Congress of Families VI -- May 25-27, 2012. The recommendation was subsequently accepted by the WCF Management Committee.
The Selection Committee met in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), and was hosted by SWBTS President Paige Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, also a member of the Committee.
WCF VI was awarded to a local organizing committee headed by Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the Spanish pro-family group HazteOir.Org ("Speak Out!"), a World Congress of Families Partner.
The 2012 Congress will take place at the Palacio de Congresos de Madrid on the main thoroughfare of the Spanish capital.
Themes of the Madrid Congress will include: Family and Marriage, Life and Bioethics, Demography, and Education and Religious Freedom. The slogan of WCF VI is "Family and Marriage: The Future of Society."
WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs commented: "We're delighted that World Congress of Families VI will be held in Madrid in little more than a year to encourage, unite, and strengthen the Spanish pro-family and pro-life movement. The government of Jose Luis Zapatero is notoriously anti-family and has instituted homosexual marriage and a so-called Gender Identity Law, while expanding legal abortion. It's time for pro-family forces to go on the offensive in Spain and reverse the ethical wrongdoings and social engineering legalized by Zapatero."
Spain also feels the chill of Demographic Winter. The nation has a birthrate of only 1.47 children per woman, with 2.13 needed just to replace current population.
At the same time, Jacobs noted, "Spain has a vibrant, well-organized pro-life/pro-family movement. On March 26, more than 200,000 demonstrators filled the streets of 70 Spanish cities to celebrate International Day for Life."
Jacobs continued, "With new national elections scheduled for March of 2012 -- roughly two-months before WCF VI -- we're confident the Congress will have a positive impact on the debate over the future of the Spanish family."
Ignacio Arsuaga responded: "We are very excited about organizing the next World Congress of Families in Madrid (WCF VI). Spain is a country where the left-secularists have attacked the family very harshly in recent times. We are eager to interact with and learn from the most effective pro-family leaders, scholars and religious figures who have fought the culture war in their own countries." Click here for the website of HazteOir.org.
Previous World Congresses of Families have been held in Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004), Warsaw (2007) and Amsterdam (2009).
This year, World Congress of Families will co-convene the following regional events: The Third Riga Family Forum (May 13, in Latvia), Marriage and Family Conference (May 18-22, Sydney, Australia ), The Future of The Family In Coalition Britain (June 29), The Moscow Demographic Summit: Family and the Future of Humankind (June 29-30) and International Law Conference On Women and Children (July 14-15, Lagos, Nigeria). Click here for the March/April issue on World Congress of Families News, with stories on all of these conferences.
Click here or visit www.worldcongress.org for more information on World Congress of Families. To schedule an interview with Larry Jacobs, contact WCF Communications Director Don Feder at 508-405-1337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The World Congress of Families (WCF) is an international network of pro-family organizations, scholars, leaders and people of goodwill from more than 60 countries that seek to restore the natural family as the fundamental social unit and the 'seedbed' of civil society (as found in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). The WCF was founded in 1997 by Allan Carlson and is a project of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Illinois. To date, there have been five World Congresses of Families -- Prague (1997), Geneva (1999), Mexico City (2004) and Warsaw, Poland (2007). World Congress of Families V was held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, August 10-12, 2009 ( www.worldcongress.org).
Southern Seminary dedicates Towery Plaza
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS)--Tuesday, April 19, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary dedicated The Towery Plaza, an outdoor meeting area and pavilion named in honor of longtime seminary benefactors Ken and Joanne Towery of Louisville. Towery Plaza will host seminary and student life events, provide space for students and faculty to fellowship and add to the ambiance of Southern's campus.
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., spoke at the dedication, thanking the Towery's for their faithful support of the seminary.
"Generation after generation the Lord has blessed Southern Seminary with people that make a decisive difference," Mohler said. "Ken and Joanne Towery are today making a decisive difference for the students and faculty of this campus."
Mohler acknowledged that while the Towery Plaza wasn't in the master-plan for campus development, the Lord blessed the seminary with a couple who were willing to make a financial commitment in time of need. Fall 2009, a retaining wall located in between Norton Hall, the seminary's iconic 1926 landmark, and the seminary lawn collapsed. Excavation of the fallen wall revealed that water damage was threatening the integrity of Norton Hall and sewage upgrades were mandatory. Repairs were estimated at $300,000.
The Towery's committed to fund the required repairs and also provide additional assets for the seminary to create a usable, outdoor space. The result is Towery Plaza, 13,500 square feet of usable space that is outfitted with wireless Internet and electricity.
"We are honored to be a part, just a small part, of this glorious campus," Towery said.
Southern's current campus was built under the leadership of E.Y. Mullins, Southern's 4th president. Mullins commissioned the Boston architectural firm of Frederick Law Olmstead to create the campus' architectural and landscape plan. Olmstead and his firm were also responsible for such national treasures as: Manhattan's Central Park, the lawns of Asheville, N.C.'s Biltmore Estate and the campus design on Stanford University in Palo Alto, Ca.
For those interested in learning more about The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, information is available at www.sbts.edu
Dr. Walter B. Shurden tells Campbellsville University the meaning of being Baptist
By Phil Carlisle, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University)--Dr. Walter B. Shurden, Minister at Large at Mercer University, told students and faculty what it means to be a Baptist Christian at a recent presentation as part of a Baptist Heritage Lecture Series.
"There are three key components of being a Baptist as I have known it," Shurden said, "Giving in to being loved, giving in to the demands of love and giving back because of love."
Throughout the presentation, Shurden emphasized the need for love and freedom in living out the Christian faith.
"There is no such thing as forced love," Shurden said. "In fact, the highest form of love is a totally free choice."
According to Shurden, the Baptist denomination has not lacked its critics and for good reason.
"Baptist spirituality has taken a beating over the years," Shurden said. "Often times, we Baptists spend too much time being saved and not enough time being spent. Most of the work we do for Christ is not done in church on Sunday morning, but rather it's done where God's people work during the day."
Shurden also says that Baptists today do great harm trying to standardize religious experiences.
"No two religious experiences are exactly the same and we do a great injustice by trying to make them so," Shurden said. "My religious experience is different from yours and yours is different than the person's sitting next to you. However, many people begin their Christian walk by realizing it's not about I love, it's about I am loved."
In closing his presentation, Shurden claimed that no single person can know everything there is to know about being Baptist, but says that all Baptists must become familiar with this concept of love.
"We must learn to live out our faith at all times because second-hand faith is no faith at all," Shurden said. "The Baptist faith is about letting go, reaching out, giving back and loving back."
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with over 3,000 students offering 63 undergraduate programs, 17 master's degrees and five postgraduate areas. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
HSB Hosts the 2011 Business Forum for Young Professionals
WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (University of the Cumberlands)--The Hutton School of Business at University of the Cumberlands (UC) on April 13 hosted its fourth annual Business Forum for Young Professionals.
The business forum has been designed to prepare young professionals as they enter the business workforce. Industry professionals share their professional experiences and discuss ways in which businesses can thrive, not just survive, in any financial climate. The theme for 2011 was "Poise for Recovery: Business Strategies for Moving toward Growth."
Mira Ball, the CFO and Secretary-Treasurer of Ball Homes, LLC in Lexington addressed the topics on, "Adapting a Business to Weather an Economic Downturn."
Chad Gardner, Attorney-at-Law with a solo practice in Louisville, focused his speech to the group on, "Beyond Academics: Some Things they May Not Teach You in Business School."
Damir Kantardzic, is the President of ASAP Automation, LLC based in Louisville. He helped students understand about, "Breakthrough Automation Technologies."
Tammie Taylor, President of R.J. Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville, discussed with the students about, "Diversifying Your Service Offerings to Your Existing Customers.
All guest speakers upon arrival are given a host for the duration of the event to show them around and to assist them with any help they may need. The four hosts to show the speakers around were Courtney Ward (Jacksboro, TN), William Marshall (Lynch, KY), Kyle Creekmore (Williamsburg, KY), and Maggie Hughes (Xenia, OH). Every year Mr. Perkins is provided a host as well and Camden Bonardi (Springboro, OH) had the privilege of showing him around in 2011.
"It's a good experience to see how the business field really is and get to see the opinions of the business professionals on how they run their businesses," exclaimed Camden. "Mr. Perkins was a funny guy and I'm very thankful for the chance to show him around and for him putting this event on."
The forum is the brainchild of J. Hunt Perkins, who makes the program possible. Perkins, a geologist, is president of J. Hunt Perkins and Associates, Inc.; a Lexington firm established in 1983 that specializes in oil and gas exploration services, gas well drilling and field exploration services. A current member of Cumberlands Board of Trustees, his strong association with the university extends back to when his mother served more than ten years as the bursar for Cumberland College.
During the actual Business Forum there are two sessions that allow students the opportunity to listen and learn from two different speakers. Each session lasts 50 minutes and at the end of the forum there is a closing session that allows for questions. "I learned that even through a recession, with the right strategy, a business can still grow and prosper," said UC student Jeff Davison (Brentwood, TN).
Hosted by Sigma Beta Delta, the Business Department's Honor Society, the guest speakers were treated to dinner the night before at the Cumberland Inn. Then after the Business Forum took place the guests were treated to a luncheon hosted by the Business Club.
"The Business Forum is very beneficial for me every year and this year I was able to learn a lot of strategies to help get me through an economic downturn like the one facing America now," stated UC student Kendra McCollum (Paint Lick, KY).
What makes this event so unique is the guest speakers that agree to attend the Business Forum for Young Professionals and give a lecture on various topics. All guests that accept the invitation to come to Williamsburg for a few days travel at their own expense. Every speaker the Hutton School of Business has hosted has agreed to do so for "Free" to give back to the students. The Business Department is able to draw in big name presidents, CEOs, etc that are interested in mentoring and promoting young professionals which is why they come.
"The goal of this event is to bring professionals to campus to share their expertise and for students to have an opportunity to network," said Dr. Margaret Combs, Head of the Business Department. "The business forum also gives students the experience of being in a true professional conference."
Plans for next year's Business Forum are already underway and it looks to be another great group of guest speakers that will take to the classrooms at the Hutton School of Business in April of 2012.
Article provided by Shane Anglin, University of the Cumberlands Department of Multi-Media and Athletic Services Special Events Coordinator and Journalist
Nepal Christians Begin Legal Battle for Burial Ground
Hindu group declares country a Hindu state; upper castes seek halt to conversions.
By Sudeshna Sarkar
KATHMANDU, Nepal, April 19 (Compass Direct News) - With the government refusing to listen to their three-year plea for an official cemetery and ignoring a protracted hunger strike, Nepal's Christians are now seeking redress from the Supreme Court.
"Every day there are two to three deaths in the community, and with each death we face a hard time with the burial," said Chari Bahadur Gahatraj, a pastor who filed a petition in the high court on March 13 asking it to intervene as authorities of Nepal's oldest Hindu temple had begun demolishing the graves of Christians there.
Gahatraj and Man Bahadur Khatri are both members of the newly formed Christian Burial Ground Prayer and National Struggle Committee that since last month began leading a relay hunger strike in a public area of the capital, asking for a graveyard. They said they were forced to go to court after the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), which runs Nepal's oldest Hindu shrine, the Pashupatinath temple, said it would no longer allow non-Hindus to use the temple's forested land.
"We don't want to hurt the sentiments of any community," Gahatraj told Compass. "Nor are we trying to grab the land owned by a temple. We are ready to accept any plot given to us. All we are asking for is that the burials be allowed till we get an alternate site."
Judge Awadhesh Kumar Yadav has since ordered the government and PADT not to prevent Christians from using the forest for burials until the dispute is resolved. The legal battle, however, now involves a counter-suit. Hindu activist Bharat Jangam filed a second writ on March 20, saying that since the forest was the property of a Hindu temple, non-Hindus should not be allowed to bury their dead there just as churches do not allow Hindu burials.
Subsequently, the court decided to hear the two petitions together, and yesterday (April 18), the hearings began. While two lawyers argued on behalf of Gahatraj and Khatri, a cohort of 15 lawyers spoke against their petition. The next hearing is scheduled for May 3.
Along with the legal battle, Christians have kept up their relay hunger strike. To step up pressure on the government, the protestors also announced they would lead a funeral march to the offices of the prime minister and the culture minister and hand over coffins to them as a symbolic protest. If that too failed, they warned they would have no option but to go on hunger strike in front of the prime minister's office and parliament, this time carrying dead bodies with them.
Alarmed at the rate the issue was snowballing, the government finally responded. Yesterday Culture Minister Gangalal Tuladhar opened talks with the protestors, agreeing to continue the negotiations after three days. The government also formed a four-member committee to look into the demand. Currently, Christians are asking for cemetery land in all 75 districts of Nepal.
Protestors were wary of the government's intent in the overture.
"This could be a ploy to buy time and bury the issue," said a member of the Christian committee formed to advise parliament on drafting the new constitution, who requested anonymity.
Though the committee formed to look into the Christians' demand for burial land has been asked to present a report within two weeks, Christians suspect the panel is dragging its feet.
"The new constitution has to be promulgated by May 28, but it does not seem likely that the main political parties will be able to accomplish the task," the Christian committee member said. "And if the constitution doesn't materialize in time, there will be a crisis and our problem will be shelved."
Adding to their unease, Christians are now facing a redoubled campaign by Hindu groups for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion, five years after parliament declared Nepal, the world's only Hindu kingdom, secular.
If the new constitution had been promulgated last year, it would have consolidated secularism in Nepal. But with the country missing the deadline due to protracted power-sharing rows among the major political parties, Christians still feel under threat.
On Thursday (April 14), when the country celebrated the start of the indigenous new year 2068 with a public holiday, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, which seeks the reinstatement of Hinduism as the state religion, kicked off a campaign at the Bhadrakali temple in Kathmandu. As curious onlookers and soldiers patrolling the nearby army headquarters looked on, party members fervently blew into conch shells and rang bells to draw people's attention to their demand.
The party, which is also seeking the restoration of monarchy, took some oblique shots at the Christian community as well.
"There is a deliberate and systematic attempt by organizations to convert Hindus," said Kamal Thapa, party chief and a former minister. "These organizations are guided by foreign powers and foreign funds. If the widespread conversion of Hindus is not stopped immediately, we will have to take stern measures."
Three days later, an umbrella of Hindu groups - the Rastriya Dharma Jagaran Mahasabha (the National Religion Resurrection Conference) held a massive gathering in the capital, declaring Nepal a "Hindu state" and meeting with no official objection. The proclamation came as the climax to a three-day public program calling for the restoration of "the traditional Hindu state." Several Hindu preachers and scholars from neighboring India attended the program, held on the grounds of the Pashupatinath temple, which is also a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site.
The "Hindu state" proclamation was the brainchild of Shankar Prasad Pandey, a former member of parliament from Nepali Congress, the second largest party in Nepal, now in opposition. Though Pandey was a sitting Member of Parliament in 2006, when the body unanimously declared Nepal secular, he began opposing the move soon afterwards, leading four campaigns against it nationwide.
"I consider the nation and the Hindu religion to be more important than the party," said Pandey, known as the MP who began to go barefoot 32 years ago to show solidarity with Nepalese, who are among the poorest in the world. "Over 90 percent of the Nepalese want Nepal to be a Hindu state. However, the government is led by people whose only concern is power and money."
Pandey's campaign is supported by Hindu groups from India and the West: Narendranath Saraswati, who is the Shankaracharya or religious head of a prominent Hindu shrine in India's Varanasi city; Dr. Tilak Chaitanya, chief of a group in the United Kingdom that propagates the Gita, the holy book of the Hindus; and Tahal Kishore, head of a Hindu organization, Radha Krishna Sevashram, in the United States.
Two weeks before the May 28 deadline for the new constitution, Pandey and his followers plan to step up the campaign for a "Hindu state" in the capital. Though Pandey denies it could stir up animosity between the majority-Hindus and Christians - whose minority population is said to have crossed 2 million but is actually only 850,801, according to Operation World - there are fears of religious tension if not outright violence.
The Hindu rallies continue to grow as a pressure tactic. Yesterday (April 18), members of Nepal Brahman Samaj, an organization of "upper castes" from whose echelons temple priests are appointed, fought with security forces in front of parliament house, demanding their rights be respected and an end to conversions.
More Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) campaigning is scheduled on April 29, when the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal's Thapa has called for a mass gathering in the capital.
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