Louisville—While Ebola’s spread across West Africa, the election of a new president of the International Mission Board, and racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., were grabbing Southern Baptists’ attention, Kentucky Baptists also dealt with one of their schools that moved to elect its own trustees, parted ways with a church that decided to perform same-sex marriages, and collected more than 3,400 Buckets of Hope to send to Africa.
Among 14 top newsmakers for Kentucky Baptists in 2014 were:
Marriage definition ‘in jeopardy’—Kentucky’s definition of marriage is on a “slippery slope” after a federal judge’s decision, warned Baptist leaders. U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn ruled in February in Louisville that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state and to do otherwise would violated the Constitution. KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood described the development as tragic and disappointing, charging that Rayburn had “usurped the will of Kentucky voters.” In October, however, a three-judge panel from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Kentucky Baptists target gun enthusiasts—An initiative to draw unchurched men to worship gained national attention after the Louisville Courier-Journal featured a wild-game dinner at Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah. The church was one of a number of congregations employing the state convention’s new emphasis on affinity evangelism focusing on hunters that often offers door prizes such as shotguns and rifles.
Mid-Continent University to close doors—A financial crisis at Mid-Continent University in Mayfield reached the breaking point with nearly all faculty and staff laid off and the school scheduled to close June 30. Though not officially tied to the state convention, the school—birthed by First Baptist Church of Clinton—has deep roots in western Kentucky Baptist soil. KBC universities rallied around MCU’s students who were displaced by the closure.
La Grange pastor to lead SBC mental health council—SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page named a 23-member volunteer advisory body of local church leaders and professionals in the mental health field to advise him on ministry needs in churches and communities. Tony Rose of La Grange Baptist Church was appointed as its chair.
Conference explores response to same-sex marriage debate—A Protecting Biblical Marriage Conference held at Crestwood Baptist Church featured a panel discussion of state and national leaders. Among the participants were KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood; Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler; Andrew Walker, director of public policy for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and August Boto, general counsel for the SBC Executive Committee.
Luter rallies Severns Valley Association to persevere in ‘ultimate battle’—In what was his final visit to the Bluegrass State before the SBC’s annual meeting in Baltimore, President Fred Luter fanned the flames of revival. Hundreds packed the worship center of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown to hear the SBC’s first African-American president.
Crossings campers reach $1 million in missions giving—Since its inception, Crossings Ministries has challenged summer campers each week to sacrifice $20 for their own wants—T-shirts, snacks, sodas—to help share the gospel. The campers have responded, surpassing the $1 million mark in total missions giving this summer. In other related news, Jonathan Creek dedicated the A.M. Johnson Worship Center.
Campbellsville University elects its own trustees—Campbellsville University informed Kentucky Baptist Convention leaders that the school intended to create a self-perpetuating board of trustees, prompting the KBC to escrow its Cooperative Program allocation. After the board elected 11 members in October, violating the university’s covenant agreement, convention officials declared that Campbellsville had “clearly chosen to remove itself” from partnership with the KBC.
EngageKY bus tour ‘breaks’ hearts for city’s lost—Nearly three dozen Kentucky Baptists took in the sites of Louisville, but instead of hitting tourism spots, they rode through rundown areas, past strip clubs, even a Sikh temple. The tour was part of EngageKY designed to show a reality facing Kentucky Baptists: Christians no longer claim the majority in Louisville. An estimated 53 percent—more than 650,000 people—are religiously unaffiliated or are part of another world religion or cult.
Cockrum is next UC president—During the University of the Cumberlands’ October trustee meeting, President Jim Taylor recommended the election of Larry Cockrum as the school’s next president. Since 2007, Cockrum has been vice president for academic affairs at Cumberlands.
severs ties with Louisville church—The KBC’s Committee on Credentials recommended severing ties with a Louisville congregation that voted to order people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and to perform same-sex marriages. Messengers to the KBC annual meeting in Bowling Green in November approved taking the action regarding Crescent Hill Baptist Church.
Paducah church mourns youth pastor, family—Michael Cruce, youth pastor at Rosebower Church for more than a decade, along with his wife Monica and their teenage sons, Joshua and Caleb, were killed Oct. 3 in a six-car pileup near Nashville, Tenn. Cruce was a student at Southern Seminary.
Kentuckian new chair of SBC Committee on Nominations—Princeton editor Chip Hutcheson, the outgoing KBC president, was elected to lead the SBC’s Committee on Nominations. The panel selects individuals to serve on SBC boards, commissions and committees.
Bucket project surpasses all expectations—Kentucky Baptists are helping AIDS victims by sending more than $125,000 in hospice supplies to Sub-Saharan Africa, an area heavily affected by the virus. Responding to a challenge to pack 800 buckets as part of a Baptist Global Response initiative, Kentucky churches brought 1,458 buckets to their annual meeting in Bowling Green, adding to the more than 2,000 buckets that were shipped earlier this year. (WR)