Baptist News Summary: SBC leader loses wife, mother within days of each other


TRUSTEES: Rainer gives final presidential address

NASHVILLE (BP) — LifeWay Christian Resources trustees gathered for their first meeting of 2019 with their sights set on a season of transition and hopeful prayer for the future.

In his final trustee meeting as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Thom S. Rainer thanked trustees and employees for the honor of serving of alongside them the past 13 years and shared his hope for the future of the organization. AARON EARLS/LifeWay

Even on the heels of recent news that LifeWay will close a number of stores and shift toward a more dynamic digital strategy driven by online commerce, President and CEO Thom S. Rainer expressed confidence in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

"The greatest days for LifeWay are yet ahead," said Rainer in what was his final presidential address to the trustees during their Feb. 4-5 meeting. Rainer announced his pending retirement at the August 2018 trustee meeting.

"In a short time, there will be a new leader and a new season here," he said. "It will be a great opportunity and a great future for LifeWay."

In his address, Rainer recalled "some of the most powerful memories" from his 13-year tenure as president. He thanked trustees and employees for the honor of serving alongside them.

Trustee chairman Jimmy Scroggins closed the meeting by thanking Rainer for his service to LifeWay. "I think I can speak for everyone in the room that you are loved and respected and your legacy will be honored. Thank you for serving, Thom. We are very grateful."

Western Recorder joins KBC Communications

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WR) — The Western Recorder — Kentucky's statewide Baptist newspaper for 190 years — will experience two significant changes in March that are designed to bolster its impact and effectiveness in communicating with Baptists across the commonwealth and beyond.


The newspaper will combine operations with the Kentucky Baptist Convention's (KBC) Communications Department as well as transition to a monthly magazine. That combination is intended to strengthen the publication that, like the rest of the newspaper industry, has seen declines in readership and revenues.

Joining with KBC Communications makes sense from a stewardship perspective by avoiding duplication of some services.

Across the nation, the newspaper industry has wrestled with how to manage the rising costs of printing and distribution at a time when revenues are in a freefall. They've seen the number of reporters and editors dwindle and the number of news pages shrink.

One-fifth of U.S. newspapers have closed in the last 14 years, according to the University of North Carolina's Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media. The university's study found that 516 rural newspapers closed or merged from 2004 to 2018. In metropolitan areas, 1,294 newspapers were shuttered during the same period, bringing the total to 1,810 newspapers that ceased publication.

Young adults keep Christian label, but fewer 'devout'

NASHVILLE (BP) —Most young adults who attended church as a teenager say they believe in God today, but fewer consider themselves devout Christians, according to a study released Jan. 31. And as a whole, they have conflicting recollections about the churches they attended in high school.


LifeWay Research surveyed more than 2,000 American adults between the ages of 23 and 30 who attended a Protestant church twice a month or more for at least a year as a teenager. Researchers conducted the survey Sept. 15-Oct. 13, 2017.

The study shows 39 percent say they consider themselves a devout Christian with a strong faith in God. Fewer consider themselves Christian, but not particularly devout (27 percent). Even fewer say they believe in God but are uncertain of Christianity (14 percent) or say they consider themselves spiritual, but not religious (11 percent).

Only a small number say they are uncertain about their belief in God (5 percent) or say they don't believe in God or in any higher being (4 percent).

Two-thirds (66 percent) of those who attended church regularly in high school dropped out for at least one year as a young adult.

The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error from the online panel does not exceed plus or minus 2.4 percent. This margin of error accounts for the effect of weighting. Margins of error are higher in subgroups.

Jim Henry's wife & mother enter heaven in 5-day span

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP) — In five days, Jim Henry has witnessed the homegoing of his wife Jeanette and mother Kathryn.

Jeanette Henry shares in a celebration of her husband Jim’s 28 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., prior to his retirement there in 2006. BAPTIST PRESS

Jeanette, 79, died Feb. 4 in the early morning hours in Orlando, Fla.; Kathryn, 100, died Thursday, Jan. 31, in Nashville.

Jim Henry was president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1994-1996; pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando from 1977 until his retirement in 2006, or what he called his "redeployment"; and pastor of Downtown Baptist Church in Orlando from 2015 until recently.

Jeanette Henry was honored by the Southern Baptist Ministers' Wives Conference during the 2002 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis, receiving the Willie Turner Dawson Award for "distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church."

In a March 2006 celebration honoring the 28 years she and Jim served at First Baptist Orlando, an endowment in her name was announced to assist pastors' wives in attending the Florida Baptist State Convention's annual meeting.

The funeral service for Jeanette Henry will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, in the worship center of First Baptist Orlando, followed by a reception. Visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at First Baptist's Henry Chapel.

The funeral service for Kathryn Henry will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. Visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.

Engagement with Muslims, not fear, is authors’ aim

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Fear, distrust, and even anger can rise to the surface when Christians think about Islam and Muslims, stemming from tragic events like 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.


Islam seems like an outsider in today's North America, yet as Christians look around, more and more of their neighbors are Muslim.

It's a tension Keith Whitfield and Micah Fries address in "Islam and North America: Loving Our Muslim Neighbors," published by B&H Academic in 2018.

The book aims "to lower fear and engage people in conversations with Muslims," Whitfield of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said when he and Fries were interviewed on the "Neighborly Faith" podcast on Jan. 18.

The edited volume brings together a collection of practitioners, scholars and former Muslims to move the discussion of Islam from soundbites and headlines to real people. The first part of the book focuses on guidelines for interacting with adherents to other religions along with insight into Muslim demographics in North America and Islamic history.

The full Neighborly Faith podcast with Fries and Whitfield can be heard at here.

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