Kentucky Baptists see active year of ministry opportunities
Louisville—It was a busy year of missions and ministry for Kentucky Baptists. A Paintsville Baptist made an appearance at the presidential inauguration, two new pro-life laws kicked off the state General Assembly’s agenda, and a seminary professor was named as a czar to overhaul the state’s foster care and adoption system. A total solar eclipse drew tens of thousands to the Blue Grass, and devastating hurricanes swept through the Caribbean.
Here are some of 2017’s big newsmakers for Kentucky Baptists:
Kentucky Baptist performs at Trump’s inauguration
A petite, young Kentucky Baptist with a big voice took perhaps her grandest stage yet when she performed at the presidential inaugural concert in January. Marlana VanHoose, 21 who, is a member of Liberty Baptist Church near Paintsville, sang “America the Beautiful” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“I was born blind, but it doesn’t stop me. God has blessed me beyond measure in every part of my life,” said VanHoose, who is limited in her mobility by cerebral palsy. She later made an appearance at the KBC’s annual meeting in Louisville in November.
Gov. Bevin signs pro-life bills
On Feb. 8, hundreds of pro-life Kentuckians gathered in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Frankfort to watch Gov. Matt Bevin ceremonially sign into law two pro-life bills. During the ceremony, Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, presented Gov. Bevin with a “Guardian of Life” award. The bills, one putting a ban on late term abortions and the other requiring a woman seeking an abortion earlier in her pregnancy to view an ultrasound, were officially signed in January.
“Kentucky Baptists have been working, hoping, and praying for this day for a very long time,” said Chitwood. In September, however, a federal judge would rule the new ultrasound law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians and banned the state from enforcing it. Gov. Bevin said he would appeal the ruling.
Webb, Benton couple, recognized for disaster relief work
Coy Webb, Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief director, received the Robert Dixon award at the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief annual conference in Denton, Texas. The award, named after the founder of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, recognizes sacrificial service and lifetime achievement.
In addition to Webb’s award, Carolyn and Jerry Gray were given the Distinguished Service Award for their service in 2016 on responses to the Mayfield tornadoes, Hurricane Matthew, and the West Virginia and Louisiana floods. The Grays, of Benton, are members of Zion’s Cause Baptist Church.
Kentucky schools may put spotlight on Bible
Legislation that easily cleared the House Education Committee called for the Kentucky Department of Education to develop policies that would allow public schools to offer elective courses in Bible literacy. “I don’t think there is another document in the history of our culture, that has had more impact on our culture, our society or our values, than the Bible,” said Rep. D.J. Johnson, the Owensboro Republican who sponsored the measure.
“The areas and aspects of life that it touches on goes from government policy, music, poetry, prose, literature styles, historical content,” he said. “Because of that, having a course on Bible literacy as a social studies course, will, without question, enrich the academic lives of our students,” he added. The bill was signed into law in April.
Wilhelmus named Missionary of the Year
Amy Wilhelmus, director of Moore Activity Center and inner-city missionary in Covington, received the state Missionary of the Year award at the Kentucky WMU annual meeting and missions celebration at Central Baptist Church in Corbin in April. Wilhelmus grew up at Southside Baptist Church in Covington, which coordinates the center’s ministry.
“Under her direction, the ministry is literally reaching thousands of people by sharing Christ through activities and programs such as family fun nights, Bible programs, community service events, recovery programs, giveaways, summer programs, and so much more,” said Teresa Parrett, KBC Missions Mobilization coordinator, calling the ministry a “beacon in the downtown area where it’s located.”
Southern professor to lead state’s adoption overhaul
Dan Dumas, a teaching pastor and elder at Crossing Church in Louisville and senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was appointed by Gov. Bevin as a czar to overhaul the state’s adoption and foster care system. Dumas, a father of two adopted sons, pledged, “I am resolved to make our adoption and foster care system faster, safer, more affordable, and more accessible.”
With 8,527 children in the state’s foster care system, the church and faith-based community at large needs to get involved at every level, Dumas urged. “Children don’t flourish in institutions. They flourish in homes,” he continued. “We need great foster and forever families. That is a fact. And the church, the faith-based community, is the fertile place that should own this problem.”
Mission Board sets sights on $22M CP budget
Raising the bar by $500,000, Kentucky Baptist Mission Board members gave a nod in May to details of the $22 million proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year through the Cooperative Program to support missions in their home state, across North America and around the world.
“Kentucky Baptists are committed to getting the gospel to the nations, and it shows in their support for the Cooperative Program,” Paul Chitwood, KBC executive director, told the Mission Board. Kentucky churches reached a historic milestone last year in their CP support by giving almost $22.3 million for national and international missions and contributing more in a single year than ever before.
First Amendment upheld in Kentucky Court of Appeals
In an apparent victory for religious liberty in the marketplace, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of a Lexington T-shirt company’s refusal to print gay pride shirts in 2012. Hands On Originals, owned by Blaine Adamson, a professing Christian, came under fire when the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in Lexington requested that he print shirts for the Lexington Pride Festival.
The Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling, stating that Adamson’s refusal to print the shirts was not refusing service to an individual based on their sexual orientation. “Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship,” Chief Judge Joy Kramer wrote.
When Kentucky goes dark, area churches to shine
HR Ministries, a Princeton-based ministry, presented SolQuest. The three-day festival, which featured food, vendor booths, live music, a 5K run and guest speakers every night, involved more than 300 volunteers from area churches. The 17-acre farm between Princeton and Hopkinsville where the SolQuest festival was held was only two miles away from the focal point of totality.
The 2017 eclipse on Aug. 21 was the first eclipse to happen over the United States since the 1970s, and the first coast-to-coast eclipse in a century. The unprecedented event was expected to draw people from 19 countries and 35 states.
East Kentucky church among first to embrace solar power
An eastern Kentucky congregation became one of the first to embrace solar power as a means to simultaneously help their community and reduce their carbon footprint. Campton Baptist Church, part of the Red River Baptist Association, recently installed 80 solar panels on the roof of the church.
“We are trying to harness the power from the sun that God has already given us and to use that wisely, and perhaps it would be something that out of curiosity people would come and check out,” said Pastor Gary Conner.
Ky. Baptists serve 78k meals to hurricane victims
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief served over 78,600 meals in responding to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. More than 215 volunteers worked in Lumberton, Galveston, Houston, Kountze, and Crestwood, Tex., as well as in Key West and Miami, Fla.
More than 260 flood clean up jobs were completed. In addition, 362 Bibles and 229 gospel tracts were distributed, 732 chaplain contacts were made, and the gospel was presented nearly 150 times. These efforts resulted in 16 decisions for Christ.
DR crew facing ‘extremely challenging’ conditions
Nineteen Kentucky Baptists arrived in St. Thomas in mid-October to face some “extremely challenging” working conditions on the tiny Caribbean island devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Partnering with nine Southern Baptist churches in the Virgin Islands, they fed those affected by the storms and did chainsaw and flood clean-up.
“This is an extremely challenging deployment as the team is staying at Bluewater Bible College with no electricity, running water and phone service,” Coy Webb, director of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, said at the time. Team members were also battling difficulties getting resources on the island, such as a mobile kitchen and food supply containers, he said.
Bolton to retire from Kentucky WMU
Joy Bolton, executive director-treasurer for Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union since Sept. 1, 1999, announced her intent to retire to the Kentucky WMU Executive Board at their October meeting. She has not set a specific date, but hopes to retire sometime between September 2018 and September 2019.
Susan Bryant, Kentucky WMU president who will be naming a search committee, said, “Kentucky WMU was strong when Joy took over the reins in September 1999. In the ensuing 18 years she has worked to make it stronger.”
Kentucky Baptists launch evangelism initiative, monitoring CBF
Messengers to the KBC annual meeting in Louisville launched a major evangelistic initiative, spoke out on gambling and violent crime and tasked their credentialing committee with monitoring potential actions by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The Fellowship is studying whether to change its policies to allow hiring individuals in a homosexual lifestyle.
Ed Amundson, pastor of High Street Baptist Church in Somerset, made the motion, which called for the KBC committee to determine if churches affiliated with the Fellowship should be allowed to cooperate with the KBC. The committee will bring a report to next year’s annual meeting in Pikeville.
Mission Board hears plans for team merger
The KBC Mission Board heard plans to merge the Business and Finance team with the Executive Office team and eliminate four staff positions as “belt-tightening” measures during its Dec. 11-12 meeting in Louisville.
The merger of the two teams, which will reduce the number of KBC ministry teams from five to four, was approved by the Mission Board’s administrative committee. Among those affected by the downsizing are the positions of Lowell Ashby, Business and Finance team leader, and Debbie Bannon, administrative assistant in the Executive Office. (WR)