Forced Labor, Women in Leadership Roles & Ukrainians Marked Six Month
When pastor Kevin Cummings stood to preach his sermon Aug. 12 at Fincastle Baptist Church in Fincastle, Virginia, it was no ordinary feat for him. There are similarities to how Heiden Ratner leads WALK Church and his style on the basketball court from college and a year as a professional in Israel. And, a Bible Study from Lifeway on Baptist Press asks, “Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew?” It says, “Most of us have been guilty of biting off more than we could chew, taking on a responsibility we were not ready to handle.”
Tomoya Obokata, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, reported it is “reasonable to conclude” forced labor by Uyghurs, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities has taken place in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and some of the coercion “may amount to enslavement as a crime against humanity.”
The Trump administration announced its decision that China is guilty of genocide against the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang on its last full day in January 2021, and the Biden administration affirmed that determination weeks later. In June 2021, messengers to the SBC’s annual meeting in Nashville passed a resolution that made the convention the first Christian denomination to denounce China’s campaign against the Uyghurs as genocide.
News reports have indicated the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has carried out a campaign primarily against the Uyghurs, predominantly Muslims in western China, that has included not only forced labor but widespread detention in “re-education” camps and a coercive population control program of abortion and sterilization.
A Lifeway Research study asked U.S. Protestant pastors about six potential leadership roles and if women are permitted to hold them in their congregations. While a slight majority say the position of senior pastor is open to women, a broader consensus exists for other positions.
Close to 9 in 10 pastors say women could be ministers to children (94 percent), committee leaders (92 percent), ministers to teenagers (89 percent) or coed adult Bible study teachers (85 percent) in their churches. Of those surveryed, 64% say a woman could be a deacon (64 percent) and 55% said a woman could be a senior pastor (55 percent).
Due to specific convictions about biblical interpretation, different Protestant denominations have varying levels of openness to women serving in certain leadership positions. In general, pastors at mainline congregations say their churches have fewer restrictions on the roles in which a woman can serve compared to evangelical churches
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Ukrainians marked the sixth month of the Russian invasion into the country as they celebrated a scaled-down national independence day on August 24.
IMB President Paul Chitwood encouraged Ukrainians on the special day and on called on other to act to bring gospel hope to the country. Chitwood said more than $12 million in aid has been given to Ukrainian efforts through Send Relief.
“While Ukrainians continue to fight for their country, and simultaneously celebrate their independence from USSR, declared in 1991, Southern Baptists continue to seek opportunities to provide both current help and the gospel of eternal hope through Send Relief and ongoing partnerships fostered and maintained by IMB missionaries who are present in the region. Their generous gifts to meet physical needs and sharing the gospel have exceeded $12 million since the beginning of the war and continue to this day.” – Paul Chitwood
AL Baptists Work to Build Camp in Alaska, Empty Historic Church Houses New Congregation & What We Should Learn From Gen Z
There’s a piece of land nestled next to a lake in Alaska, and Tommy Bishop said when he’s there, he thinks of somewhere else. Amanda Hicks knew there were bees inside the building that once housed Chula Baptist Church. Everyone in the small Missouri town knew that. And, what does Gen Z need?
With a recent mission trip to Australia, Fruit Cove Church in North Florida has reached its goal of extending its missions footprint to all seven continents. Author, speaker and a mentor to many, Rhonda Kelley was known for her vibrant spirit and dedication in serving women in the local church, in the seminary classroom, and at the state and denominational level. And, Augustine is credited as having said, “God had only one Son who never sinned, but He never had any sons who didn’t suffer.”
Celebration of New Missionaries, Nicaragua’s Crackdown on Catholic Church & Steps for Starting New Groups
62 new missionaries were commissioned last week by the International Mission Board. The celebration took place in Phoenix, Arizona. In a concerning turn of events, the situation for the Catholic community in Nicaragua has deteriorated. This year alone, nineteen priests have been forcibly expelled. And, Lifeway discipleship expert Ken Braddy offers tips on starting new groups in your local church.