This week on my week-in-review feature, "The 3", I focus on some good news out of Haiti, a Texas school textbook victory for religious heritage, and a checkup on the health of the Southern Baptist Convention.
3 - Leader of missionary group to Haiti finally released
Laura Silsby, the leader of that missionary group arrested in Haiti for trying to transport orphaned children across the border to the Dominican Republic, was convicted this week, but freed to return to the United States, with the judge basically saying that her time served in prison was sufficient to punish her for her "crime". The Christian Post has the story.
With over 250,000 people dead in Haiti and over a million left homeless, it does seem the nation has plenty of serious issues on its hands. This missionary group, for all intents and purposes, seems to have simply wanted to rescue orphaned children and take them to a better life; but there are those who have questioned whether or not the Haitian government wanted to make some sort of political example out of them. And, yes, it did seem that most or all of these children had at least one living parent, but this is apparently a common practice by Haitian parents to place their children in orphanages so that they can be provided for.
2 - Texas textbook committee wins Texas-sized victory for traditional values
The role of religious heritage in the establishment of our nation has been downplayed or eliminated from the national discussion and specifically the teaching of our young people. Texas parents and members of the state Board of Education there wanted to highlight our traditional values and the rich religious background that we have, and so there was a successful attempt to write into the Social Studies textbook standards assurances that some of these aspects of our history will be presented. The vote came down on Friday, and Liberty Institute was one of those organizations on the forefront. Read the "live blog" of the proceedings this week.
It has been pointed out that this vote could have implications for other states. As textbooks are revised to meet these standards, those rewritten textbooks could go into other areas, as well, putting more mentions of religious heritage and American exceptionalism into classrooms nationwide.
1 - Baptists celebrate, contemplate latest statistics
Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination in America, and as the national meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention approaches in Orlando, the denomination is evaluating its impact on the world. The task force assigned to make recommendations on a document called the Great Commission Resurgence has undertaken a daunting task, attempting to poise the denomination for more effective ministry in the future. Baptist Press has a nice piece on some of the ramifications of this overall strategy and the opinions on it.
Meanwhile, new statistics provide more information to consider - while baptisms are on the rise...slightly, the membership in the overall denomination has decreased...again slightly. Christianity Today has some facts and analysis.
Meanwhile, it appears there are 4 candidates for the Presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention, replacing First Baptist/Woodstock, GA Pastor Johnny Hunt, who has served the customary 2 years in the position. According to Baptist Press, those candidates are:
Jimmy Jackson, Pastor of Whitesburg Baptist Church in Huntsville, AL, currently serving as President of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. He was the SBC's first vice president in 2006-07.
Ted Traylor, Pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL, a former President of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Traylor is a trustee of the North American Mission Board and chairman of NAMB's presidential search team. He is a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and a former SBC first vice president.
Bryant Wright, Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA, formerly President of the SBC Pastors' Conference (2006).
Leo Endel, Executive Director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention and former President of the Baptist Convention of Iowa.
The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is coming up June 15-16.
Mojave Desert cross replaced, replacement removed
Movie on life of Keith Green possibly in the works?