BP LEDGER: Aug. 29, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information from various Southern Baptist-related entities and news releases of interest from other sources.

Today's BP Ledger contains items regarding:

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Baptist World Alliance

FamilyLife

First Priority of America

Michael Cromartie remembered for 'intellectual depth, evangelistic zeal' by ERLC's Moore

WASHINGTON (ERLC/BP) -- Michael Cromartie "represented the best of evangelicalism," said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, upon learning of the death of his friend Monday (Aug. 28). Cromartie was vice president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center, an institute seeking to apply Judeo-Christian morals to public policy.

Cromartie died following a battle with cancer. He was 67.

"I am grieving the death of my friend Michael Cromartie," Moore said in a statement. "One of the best men I ever knew, Mike was full of grace, honesty, humility and integrity. In a day when 'evangelical' has such a bad name among non-Christians, he represented the best of evangelicalism: intellectual depth, evangelistic zeal, and, most of all, unconditional love.

"In a time when many relentlessly blast 'the media,' Cromartie built the finest outreach to journalists I've ever seen -- the Faith Angle Forum. The Faith Angle Forum put religious thinkers and journalists of all sorts together, in a way that helped inform secular journalists about religious people, not just scold them for not understanding us.

"Through all of that, Mike was clearly up to more than just building intellectual bridges. He loved those journalists, as people. And he loved Jesus. That was clear even to the most jaded atheist in any given room. After his cancer diagnosis, every time I saw Mike he would say, 'Pray like a Pentecostal.' We did. Mike now is in the presence of the Lord of Pentecost. We will miss him here, and must pray for more like him."

Former Texas Baptist elected BWA general secretary

BANGKOK (BWA) -- American Elijah Brown, originally from the state of Texas, was elected to be the next general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). Brown was formally approved by the General Council on Friday, July 7, in Bangkok, Thailand, at its meeting during the BWA Annual Gathering.

He will assume the position of general secretary on January 1, 2018, succeeding Neville Callam, a Jamaican, who retires from that position in December after more than 10 years of service.

The general secretary is the CEO of the BWA and has overall responsibilities for the administration and operations of the organization, and is its chief representative to global organizations and institutions, ecclesial and secular, and to governments.

Brown, 36, has had a decade long involvement in the international umbrella organization for Baptists, starting in 2007 when he was named one of 35 global emerging leaders by the BWA. He is currently BWA regional secretary for North America and general secretary for the North American Baptist Fellowship.

He is a member of the BWA General Council; the Constitution and Bylaws Committee; the Nominations Committee; the Congress Committee; and the Mission, Evangelism and Justice Advisory Committee. He is vice chair of the BWA Commission on Religious Liberty and is a member of the Commission on Theological Education.

Brown, executive vice president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a Christian human rights organization based in Virginia, in the United States, was previously associate professor of religion at East Texas Baptist University where he was founding director of the Freedom Center.

The son of a pastor, Brown was ordained to the Christian ministry in July 2002 and was associate pastor at Taylor's Valley Baptist Church in Temple, Texas. He said his "lifelong commitment to ministry [is] shaped by three principles." These are: "absolute dedication to the study of the Bible and life-alignment to the teachings of Scripture, a firm belief that the Holy Spirit is always at work in the world and that our responsibility is to listen to how we can lovingly join in his activity, and in the beauty of the local church as an agent for transformation and reconciliation as the bride of Christ."

Brown declared: "I understand my own calling to be one of global, collaborative engagement that believes in the local church, takes seriously the Word of God, listens to the Holy Spirit and seeks to build networks that act together in areas of mission, justice and deepening theological education as Christ-centered witnesses within the public square, especially in areas of conflict, persecution, refugee marginalization and injustice."

John Upton, former BWA president and chair of the General Secretary Search Committee, said, "Elijah understands the BWA, values human rights, is a champion of religious freedom, connects with all generations, is a passionate speaker, a skilled administrator." Upton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, noted that the new BWA leader "is well published and deeply respected in academic circles. Elijah combines motivation, inspiration and innovation with great skill and effectiveness."

Brown earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas with a double major in religion and history, and a Ph.D. in divinity with a focus on world Christianity from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Brown's specialty lies in human rights and religious liberty. His dissertation focused on issues related to world Christianity, including mission and church growth, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and the interaction of religion and politics. He helped to launch the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and became its executive vice president and CEO.

He has conducted research on, led training events in and done human rights advocacy work in South Sudan, Nigeria, Eritrea, Iraq, Nepal and other countries. He has submitted reports to the United Nations and the US Department of State, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and several foundations and groups.

Brown is married to Amy and is father to Hudson, Sahara and Keziah.

The Southern Baptist Convention withdrew from the BWA in 2004.

Dennis Rainey announces successor at FamilyLife

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(FamilyLife) -- After helping strengthen tens of millions of marriages and families in 109 countries for more than four decades, Dennis Rainey announced to his team of 400 staff members Aug. 2 that David Robbins will succeed him later this fall as president and CEO of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ).

"I have observed that the tendency of ministry founders is to stay in the seat for too long and not make room for fresh leadership," said Rainey, who co-founded FamilyLife with his wife Barbara in 1976. As early as 2007, Rainey initiated conversations with the FamilyLife board of directors about a leadership transition plan he felt needed to take place near his 70th birthday (in 2018). At FamilyLife's 40th anniversary celebration in July 2016, Rainey shared with staff a plan to begin a leadership transition, and requested prayer as the board and executive leadership team worked to identify his successor.

"If we want to effectively reach and support the coming generations of marriages and families, we need a leader who is committed to the authority of the Scriptures, and is uniquely connected to and understanding of the issues associated with those generations," Rainey said. "Barbara and I are fully confident that David and his wife, Meg, embody the commitment, experience, passion and vision needed to lead FamilyLife into the future."

Robbins currently serves as a national facilitator for Cru's Millennials Ministry, which he and Meg launched in 2012. The initiative targeting 20-somethings quickly grew to reach a network of 1,000 millennials in New York and spread nationwide, establishing teams in 15 other cities across the U.S.

"In an increasingly secular world, we often observe how marriage and parenting are two areas in which people actually are willing to listen to a biblical perspective and worldview," said Robbins, whose passion for families has driven Meg and him to provide extensive pre-marital and marriage counseling to dozens of couples, using FamilyLife resources. "We love connecting people to life-changing relationships, helping people experience Jesus in the deepest crevices of their souls, and holistically integrating faith, work, family and mission."

Robbins will begin work as president and CEO at FamilyLife on Dec. 1. At least through 2018, Rainey will continue to host FamilyLife Today, which can be heard in all 50 states through more than 1,100 radio stations, reaching an estimated audience of 1.6 million weekly listeners. In addition, Rainey will mentor new leadership, speak and write. Barbara will continue in her passion to equip women, wives and moms to pass on their faith through her Ever Thine Home blog and resources.

As a 17-year veteran of Cru, Robbins has served in a variety of capacities, including overseas team leader in Pisa, Italy, and national director of Campus Field Ministries, overseeing 175 field staff on 17 locations for campus ministries in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

Robbins received his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Mississippi. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and four children.

First Priority of America names new president and CEO

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (First Priority) -- Dr. Rick Forbus has been selected to serve as the next President and CEO of First Priority of America, a Christian non-profit organization that presently resources over 40,000 middle and high school students in 849 clubs across America. Forbus and his team are preparing to be in 1,000 schools by the fall of 2018.

For the past eleven years, Dr. Forbus was the CEO of Trove, Inc., an Atlanta-based executive coaching and professional training firm. He will remain a Senior Partner for Trove, Inc., but will direct his energy and skills to grow First Priority of America.

"First Priority of America (FPoA) exists to share the hope of Christ with every student in America," Forbus said. "We believe that America's youth culture is facing a major spiritual problem that requires a great spiritual movement. All statistics today indicate that teenagers are the number one influence on the lives of their peers. Our strategy is designed to unite the body of Christ by networking churches, parents, and business/community leaders to support, train and resource Christian teenagers to influence their school peers with the Gospel. FPoA believes that the good news of the Gospel of Christ is the solution to the hopelessness facing today's teenagers."

Founded in 1997 and based in Middle Tennessee, First Priority employs a "non-parachurch" strategy designed to work directly with and through local churches. Local First Priority chapters equip, encourage and empower Christian students to legally form clubs or groups in their middle and high schools. These clubs follow a four-week H.O.P.E cycle which promotes Christian students living and sharing their faith with their peers. FPoA currently has ministry locations spanning 16 states with 34 local FP chapters and FP clubs in 849 schools. Over 40,000 students attend FP Clubs weekly. For more information, please contact First Priority of America at www.fpofamerica.com.

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