BP Ledger, April 10, 2015

EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today's BP Ledger contains items from:

Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools

Union University

WORLD News Service

Outstanding SBACS scholars &

musicians scholarship winners

By Staff

ORLANDO, Fla. (Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools) -- Fifty high school seniors from the Class of 2015, enrolled in twenty-two SBACS member Christian schools, were selected to compete in a national awards program for their outstanding scholarship and/or musical achievements. Out of the fifty finalists, sixteen shared the spotlight as national, regional or state award winners, dividing $9,150 in college grants, $1,000 to each of the three national winners, $500 to each of the eight regional winners and $250 to each of the five state winners. National and regional scholar winners' schools also received awards of $250 and $100 for each nominee ultimately selected as a winner.

Each fall, SBACS member schools nominate candidates in two groups; scholars and musicians. Nominees must then complete an application process to compete for the scholarships. Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements become finalists. In the spring, a panel of judges chooses the winners in each of the two categories.

Joshua Expeditions Outstanding SBACS Scholars Awards Program awards two national winners $1,000 each, six regional winners $500 each and five state winners $250 each. Thirteen Christian school students were selected as 2015 scholarship winners from a field of thirty-one finalists from eleven states. To compete for the award, seniors must:

-- score at least a 1250 on SAT (combined critical reading & math score) or 28 on ACT.

-- have at least a 3.5 unweighted cumulative GPA.

-- have the testimony of their faculty to their good character, service and leadership within their schools, churches and communities.

Joshua Expeditions Outstanding SBACS Musicians Awards Program awards one national winner $1,000 and two regional winners $500 each. Three Christian school seniors were selected as 2015 musician winners from a field of six finalists from four states. To compete for the award, seniors must:

-- have at least a 3.0 unweighted cumulative GPA.

-- be highly involved in music and show a superior level of vocal or instrumental skill.

-- demonstrate an active faith in Christ.

-- audition by CD.

-- receive recommendations from music directors and teachers indicating good character, service and leadership within their schools, churches and communities.

The purpose of the Joshua Expeditions Outstanding SBACS Scholars & Musicians Awards Program is to discover and recognize students in our Southern Baptist Christian schools across the nation with exemplary expertise and accomplishments in scholastics or music, Christian character and service to others. The extraordinary level of achievement, character and leadership evidenced by this year's participants demonstrates that our schools are producing outstanding results, young men and women of excellence who will be the salt and light that the Lord Jesus Christ expects and requires to lead his Kingdom. SBACS maintains a database of over 700 Christian schools affiliated with Southern Baptist churches, associations or conventions around the nation, 200 of which have high schools.

The Outstanding SBACS Scholars and Musicians Awards Program is funded by a generous grant from Joshua Expeditions, a nonprofit Christian student travel company that offers global educational and mission trips for high school students from across the nation. "Through their generous commitment, Joshua Expeditions has provided scholarship funding for SBACS member school students throughout the United States to receive help with the cost of higher education. Our hope is that other individuals and foundations will be encouraged to contribute to this fund as well," said SBACS Executive Director, Edward E. Gamble.

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Union trustees choose

Lisa Rogers as chairman

JACKSON, Tenn. (Union University) -- Union University trustees elected Lisa Williams Rogers as the next board chair April 10, the first woman ever to hold that position in the university's history.

Rogers, a 1983 Union graduate and a physician in obstetrics and gynecology with the Jackson Clinic, will replace Norm Hill, who steps aside after serving as board chair for three years. Rogers is in her 15th year of service as a Union trustee.

"I am excited to be working with Dr. Lisa Rogers as our new board chair," Union President Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver said. "Union has been blessed with quality board leadership over its history. I am most grateful for Norm Hill's service as chair these past three years. Lisa will carry that tradition of strong leadership forward."

Oliver said Rogers has a deep love for Christ, knows Union well as an alumna, has strong relationships with people in the community and has a passion for advancing the university's mission and vision.

"I'm humbled to be chosen for this key position at Union University," Rogers said. "My life has been blessed in many ways by my years at Union, and I'm excited about this opportunity to serve my alma mater in this way."

Hill, who served as chairman of the nominating committee that recommended Rogers for the role, said she was a natural selection.

"Lisa Rogers is a woman who is wholeheartedly committed to the mission and work of Union University," Hill said. "She has proven herself to be an individual of wisdom, vision and faith, and we are honored to elect her to a new leadership role."

After graduating from Union, Rogers completed medical school at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and did her residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She and her husband Kenny have two children – Rebecca, a student at Belmont University, and Austin, a freshman at Union – and are members of West Jackson Baptist Church.

Rogers had previously served as the board's secretary.

Chad Wilson, who has been the board's vice chairman, was re-elected to that position, and Peggy Graves was elected as secretary.

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Alan Sears on defending

Christian liberty

By Warren Cole Smith

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WORLD News Service) -- Alan Sears is the president, CEO, and general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF came into being more than 20 years ago when the leaders of several large Christian ministries decided Christian and conservative causes needed a legal alternative to the American Civil Liberties Union. It now has more than 200 staff members and 2,000 trained and affiliated lawyers. WORLD News Service’s Warren Cole Smith spoke with Sears about the organization's history and future.

WORLD: Alliance Defending Freedom was founded by other ministry leaders. How did they come together, and why did they pick you to lead it?

SEARS: Many of these founders had been involved with other legal ministries, other efforts, but they said, we need to establish something unique and different with much more capacity. We're really thankful for all those that are in the battle. We want to actually support them and ally with them, but we need an organization that has a unique combination of strategy, training, and funding to support legal advocacy.

WORLD: We're at one of those trainings right now. You've brought attorneys from all over the country together for a week-long legal academy. A lot of times, that's an all-expenses-paid trip at a very nice location, but it's not just a free lunch.

SEARS: One of the things we saw is that most efforts to get lawyers to volunteer their time had failed. One of the reasons they had failed is they weren't based on relationships. They were based on lifting up an individual, lifting up an organization, rather than lifting up the body of Christ. They didn't pour enough resources in to provide what these attorneys needed. That's why we go to a nice location that people would be glad to bring their family to, because we ask an attorney to take a week off of their job. That means they don't earn money for an entire week. So how about coming to a place where you could bring your wife or your husband or bring your children? You could enjoy that time with them between classes, and your family could enjoy themselves. Then we have long hours, and the people work hard. The one that you and I are at right now, the lawyers worked an average of 30 hours before they arrived here writing a brief and preparing for presentation of a case.

WORLD: You've got thousands of lawyers now all over the country who have been trained by ADF, who have made a commitment that they will give back, right?

SEARS: Our original request is 450 hours over a three-year period. We've adjusted that from time to time as we've learned what works best, but I'll tell you a little secret. When you bring in an attorney, and you equip them and provide them the backing, create the network and the information they need, and they do one or two of these cases, they get hooked. We don't really have problems with getting people to get their commitment filled when they enter into the work. The first time, the first couple of cases are the difficult ones, and then they want to do more than we can provide. There is so much opportunity out there. We teach people to be entrepreneurial, watch their newspapers, watch what's going on with their local school boards, at the universities, and so forth. There are many cases that we still don't even know about until disaster is already underway, but as we build this network, we're praying for the day when there's not a single case that is lost by default, which is the way the body of Christ did for two generations. We gave it away by default. We stood on the sidelines while the other side came on the field, fully dressed, and walked the ball down to the end zone.

WORLD: You represented the Conestoga Wood Specialties company, a co-defendant in the famous Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court.

SEARS: Yeah. A wonderful Mennonite family from up in Pennsylvania. Many people listening would know the history of the Mennonites. These were people who were driven out of their homeland in Europe over religious persecution, who moved to the new land of the United States. This particular family, they start this cabinet woodworking business. It expands. It has 3,000 employees, and then what happens? The government says, as a condition of remaining in business, you face more religious persecution. You've got to fund abortion pills. This family, along with so many wonderful other families like the Greens who own Hobby Lobby said, enough's enough. We draw a line in the sand. We will not do this. Many of your listeners have heard about this battle, but they may not know that the fine, if you chose to give no health coverage for your employees, was only $2,000 a year. But if you gave wonderful health benefits, like the Hahn family at Conestoga or the Greens at Hobby Lobby do, the fine is $100 per person per day, $36,000 a year, 18 times more for giving good insurance with no abortion pills than no insurance at all. ... The Lord blessed us to win that. We now have a record of 20 wins and one loss nationwide representing many clients on the abortion-pill mandate. We've had a lot of Supreme Court success, hundreds of cases at every level, and even cases in Europe and in India now.

WORLD: How do you tell their stories to donors in a way that makes a compelling case for supporting your ministry and keeping you going in your work?

SEARS: The Lord has blessed us with the blossoming of the internet. ... If you go to the Alliance Defending Freedom website or to our Facebook page or some of these other social media, we are putting up videos with first-person interviews. For example, one of our clients is a florist from Washington state who is a wonderful Christian woman. She is a grandmother. She bought the business from her mother, and she said, I cannot participate in planning and executing the floral arrangements for a so-called same-sex marriage. I'll sell them anything they want, product-wise, but participating in that is a violation of my conscience and what God leads me to do. All the media were portraying this woman as some kind of a grouch, just a far-out, kooky, wacko kind of a person, not really respecting who she was. We were able to put video footage up of her where people now get to know her. She's done a number of speeches now. She's done a number of interviews, and all this is available on the internet.

So you don't just practice law. You've got to be good at storytelling. It's a lot of stuff I never thought about. I was a lawyer. I'd been a federal prosecutor. I served in the Reagan administration, and my interest was convincing a jury of 12 or a judge of one or a panel of three to buy my argument. All of a sudden, now I'm in the court of public opinion, and God has blessed us with some great teammates to help us there.

WORLD: I talked to some people who know you, and they said that you have a reputation of being a bit of a workaholic. Do you plead guilty to that charge?

SEARS: I would say that I do work a lot of hours and probably too many hours and travel too much. God gave me an angel in my wife, Paula. She has been such a key part of this ministry from the very beginning. We spent 14 summers, what we call our summers in the Hamptons, because we stayed in the Hampton Inns. We would leave the day school got out and return when school started again, traveling city to city to city, generally staying in about six different hotels a week, to take the word out, to recruit lawyers, to conduct seminars, to work on basic fund development and so forth.

WORLD: Whenever you do have some time off, what do you like to do?

SEARS: We hit the hills. The Lord blessed us to have our home in Scottsdale, Ariz. We're in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. And I always loved the scripture, "I look into the hills from whence my hope comes" and love to get up there. We're out of cellphone connectivity in about half of that walking zone. The area we live in has about 13 miles of trails and incredible views. The higher you get, the better the view. If I had one hobby, it's hiking. When the children were young, we used to bribe them. We'd go to one of the fast-food outlets, get food for breakfast. Then I'd go to a gas station, load up with all their favorite candy, and I said, "If you make it to the top of the peak, you can have all you want," and we'd make it to the top of the peak.

WORLD: What do you want people to say about you when you're gone?

SEARS: That he finished well. As Paul talked about, we've all seen so many of our brothers and sisters who've botched it in some way as they get toward the end. Whatever way that might be, Lord, protect me and spare me from that. Let me honor You in all that I do. One of the things that we've been working on with the ministry, with the board of directors, is already planning transition. We actually have two transition plans: one for an unexpected transition such as a death, and then we have a longer-term view, and we want to provide well. Then I want it to be said that I was a good husband to my wife. Paula has been a saint in building this ministry, and that's what I'd like people to say.

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