SBC DIGEST: Charles Stanley succession plan at First Baptist Atlanta; SBC This Week's #MyLottieStory videos; Kay Coles James to address Rose Day pro-life rally

by Christian Index, Baptist Messenger & BP Staff, posted Wednesday, December 13, 2017 (2 months ago)

ATLANTA (BP) -- First Baptist Church in Atlanta approved a succession plan presented by senior pastor Charles Stanley in both morning services on Dec. 10, formally naming the church's senior associate pastor, Anthony George, as Stanley's future successor.

Charles Stanley (right), senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, has initiated a succession plan for Anthony George (left) to be his eventual successor, though Stanley said the time of his retirement is "known only by God."
Photo courtesy of First Baptist Atlanta
Although the succession plan does not include a fixed date, it does officially provide for the transition to George "at such time in the future, known only to God," when Stanley, 85, ceases to be First Baptist's senior pastor, according to a report in The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Stanley, in his introductory remarks, clarified that the succession plan was not an indicator of an imminent retirement. "As you know, I don't believe in retirement. It's not biblical," he told the church. He assured the congregation that the succession plan would not alter his role as pastor and George's role as his associate.

"I will still be the pastor, and I plan on preaching as many Sundays as possible," said Stanley, who served as Southern Baptist Convention president in the mid-1980s. "This plan is about a time in the future, not the present."

Stanley noted, "While I intend to remain the pastor as long as God gives me health and strength, I believe the church should be prepared for the time in the future when that could change." Prior to the vote in each service, Stanley summarized the effect of the plan by explaining, "Upon approval by the church, this plan will be officially in place to ensure a seamless transition in leadership whenever God ordains that to occur."

At one point during Stanley's presentation of the succession plan the congregation spontaneously stood and applauded to register approval of a seamless transition to ensure that the church remains healthy and viable into the future. Stanley has often expressed his confidence in George's ability and leadership qualities.

Stanley requested that the congregation be seated in order to hear the proposal in its entirety. Once he concluded his proposal he asked those in attendance to vote by standing as an indication of their affirmation. The congregation rose as one to demonstrate their unanimity regarding the succession plan.

Though Stanley became pastor of First Baptist in 1971, he first came to the church as associate pastor in 1969, the same year George was born. George has served at the church since April 2012.

George came to First Baptist from Aloma Baptist Church in Winter Park, Fla., where he served as senior pastor for 15 years. He is a Mississippi native who holds an undergraduate degree from Criswell College in Dallas and master's and doctoral degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina.

George was a trustee of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas for 12 years, where he chaired the trustees' academic administration committee for four years, and a member of the Florida Baptist Convention's State Board of Missions for 10 years, where he chaired the denominational polity and practice committee.

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SBC This Week podcast channels #MyLottieStory videos

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Videos with a #MyLottieStory hashtag from pastors and SBC leaders have become part of the SBC This Week podcast's social media in support of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Podcast hosts Jonathan Howe in Nashville and Amy Whitfield in Wake Forest, N.C., began the #MyLottieStory initiative after seeing a video by Bible teacher Beth Moore on Twitter boosting the offering, which supports Southern Baptist missionaries appointed by the International Mission Board.

"So we had an idea to email some friends and ask them to send us a short iPhone video telling their Lottie story," Howe said in comments emailed to BP.

The videos can be viewed at vimeo.com/sbcthisweek or in the #MyLottieStory Facebook video album at facebook.com/SBCthisweek.

Among the two dozen videos received to date are Lottie stories by Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and former SBC president; Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director of national WMU; and Nathan Lorick, executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention.

"If someone wants to submit a video, all they have to do is post it online to Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #MyLottieStory," Howe said. "We've also been tagging the IMB on social media and using their hashtag, #ourLMCO, to connect with the broader conversation."

Whitfield said Lottie Moon's passion "has lived on through generations," with the offering reflecting "a tangible mission that connects our churches with each other and with our brothers and sisters on the field. It's not just my Lottie story. It's our Lottie story."

Howe is director of strategic initiatives in the president's office of LifeWay Christian Resources; Whitfield is director of marketing and communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. SBC This Week, posted each Friday, recaps news from across the SBC. The podcast launched in 2015, now having recorded 132 episodes.

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Kay Coles James to address Rose Day pro-life rally

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- Kay Coles James, a former official in the George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush administrations, will address the annual Rose Day Pro-Life Rally in the Oklahoma Capitol Feb. 7.

During the interdenominational Rose Day, which marked its 25th anniversary in 2016, attendees bring red roses as a symbol of their pro-life stance for the governor, lieutenant governor and their state senator and state representative.

Following the rose distribution, which begins at 9:30 a.m., a rally is held in the House Chamber at 11:30 a.m. In addition to the keynote address, the Rose Day Committee, of which the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is a member, plans testimonies, music and other program features.

BGCO Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony L. Jordan said he "cannot think of a more critical time in the struggle to protect the unborn. With the recent opening of two new [Oklahoma] abortion facilities and a rising culture of abortion on demand, we are in crucial days for the pro-life movement. This is a life and death issue, and we must be faithful."

James is the founder and president of The Gloucester Institute, an organization which trains and nurtures leaders in the African American community.

Under George W. Bush, James served as director of the Office of Personnel Management from 2001-2005; under George H.W. Bush, James served as associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.

James also is a former senior vice president of the Family Research Council, director of public affairs for the National Right to Life Committee and dean of Regent University's Robertson School of Government.

For more information on Rose Day, visit www.bgco.org/roseday.

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and Brian Hobbs of The Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
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