SBC DIGEST: Guidestone releases ministers' tax guide; SWBTS launches master's in worship; Baylor honored for 175 years

GuideStone announces release of Ministers' Tax Guide

By Holly Taylor

DALLAS, Texas (BP) -- GuideStone has released its most popular annual publication, the 2020 Ministers' Tax Guide for 2019 Returns, available now for GuideStone participants at GuideStone.org/TaxGuide.

The tax guide includes tax highlights for 2019 including changes based on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the current status of minister's housing allowance after the recent 2019 litigation, along with step-by-step filing instructions for minister's personal taxes and comprehensive examples and sample forms.

Additionally, GuideStone participant churches and church administrators have access to the annual Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches. This publication is included in the full tax guide or as a separate electronic copy.

GuideStone participants can receive both free resources by visiting GuideStone.org/TaxGuide or can request a free printed copy of the tax guide by calling 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) (printed copies are limited).

The guide was again written this year by Richard Hammar, a noted CPA, attorney and widely published author who specializes in legal and tax issues for ministers. Additionally, the material is edited by GuideStone to ensure that it addresses, in detail, the tax issues directly affecting Southern Baptist ministers.

"It is a deep privilege each year to provide this annual tax guide for our participants and their preparers," GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. "Each year we hear from so many who are thankful for the guide and how much it helps them. This free guide is part of our ministry to the messenger of the Gospel and is a concrete way in which we live out our vision of honoring the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security."

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New SWBTS degree 'gold standard' for worship leadership

By Katie Coleman

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- In fall 2020, the School of Church Music and Worship at The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will launch a 59-hour master's degree that will be the "gold standard" for worship leadership, says the school's administration.

The Master of Music in Worship Leadership -- designed to train and equip worship leaders who are biblically faithful, musically excellent, and devoted to serving the church -- received a unanimous vote of approval by Southwestern Seminary's board of trustees during its fall 2019 meeting.

In addition, the new degree was recently approved by the National Association of Schools of Music, the accrediting body for higher education in music.

"What we set out to do was create the 'gold standard' for training in the ministry of music and worship leadership," said Chuck T. Lewis, associate dean of the School of Church Music and Worship. Lewis added that students who enroll in this competency-based degree program will graduate with robust theological training, vigorous leadership coaching, and practical equipping in the area of music and worship leadership.

"Our ultimate goal is to produce thoroughly trained leaders who are Word-saturated, ministry-minded, musically excellent, and church-serving," Lewis said.

"If I were a student seeking to be trained, the Master of Music in Worship Leadership is unquestionably the degree that I would want to pursue," he said. "Perhaps even more importantly, the faculty at Southwestern Seminary are the professors whom I would most trust to be the shapers of my mind and heart."

Both Lewis and Joseph R. Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship, say the faculty spent months diligently crafting a degree that will provide a unique training experience that can only be found at Southwestern Seminary.

"The significance of the new degree is that we didn't go searching for the gold standard in worship leader training; we created it," Crider said, explaining that the degree is specifically designed for those who take seriously their ministry calling.

"While our culture is becoming more and more 'post-Christian' all the time," Crider said, "our pastors and worship leaders need to be trained well in the doctrines of the Christian faith in addition to having the skills necessary to navigate the ever-changing musical landscape in the local church. This degree is designed to arm our students with the necessary tools to be effective in the local church for Christ's Kingdom and the glory of God."

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BGCT honors Baylor for 175 years of Christian education

By Bonnie Shaw

ANDERSON, Texas (BP) -- The Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) used their annual Texas Baptists Institutional Legacy Day to recognize Baylor University for 175 years of exemplary Christian higher education. The recognition, which took place during a worship service at the historic Anderson Baptist Church Jan. 26, honored the faith and commitment of Baylor leadership, both past and present. It also celebrated the partnership between the university and the BGCT.

Texas Baptists Associate Executive Director Craig Christina presents Baylor President Linda Livingstone with a plaque during the Institutional Legacy Day service.
Photo by Bonnie Shaw
BGCT associate executive director Craig Christina presented the award to Baylor President Linda Livingstone.

"There are two things that have always inspired Baptists to work together," Christina said. "And those two things are, first of all, missions and the second cause is education. And in particular theological education. Texas Baptists saw fit 175 years ago to form Baylor University and we are so proud of Baylor University. We're so proud of who they are and what they do today. They are a place where we can send our future ministers of the Gospel, our future doctors and lawyers, our future people who will work and serve the people of God."

Baylor University and its counterpoint, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, were founded in 1845 at Independence, Texas, by Texas Baptists. Together, they were the first Baptist university in Texas and the oldest institutional partner of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

In 1886, Baylor moved to Waco and merged with Waco University to create present-day Baylor University. Since then, the campus has grown to approximately 1,000 acres and educates over 15,000 students annually. Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in the state.

In recent years, Baylor launched a new academic strategic plan, Illuminate, which focuses on combining a Christian environment, transformative education, high-quality research and nationally honored arts and athletics program to illuminate a future filled with promise, both for the students and for the lives they will impact.

"We feel like it is a privilege for Baylor to continue to grow and develop as an institution, as a significant Christian research university, to help the state of Texas, the country and the world to produce individuals who care deeply about their faith and about making a difference in the world," Livingstone said.

During the service, worship was led by three students from Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Todd Still, dean of Truett Seminary, delivered a sermon from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 about faithfulness. He reminded those in attendance of God's great faithfulness and encouraged them to be faithful to God in response.

"The stories of God's faithfulness to a group of struggling Baptists on the shores of the Brazos outnumber the stars," Still said, as he recalled how Baylor's founders had big dreams for the university, and how God faithfully provided for them.

Today, Still said, the Lord continues to provide for Baylor. Still thanked the Anderson Baptist Church congregation for being a part of the Lord's provision through their gifts through the Cooperative Program.

"By virtue of your offerings week after week after week to a Cooperative Program, you may not recognize it, but you are training the next generation of ministers and missionaries. You are giving towards a scholarship fund," he said.

Still also thanked the church for hosting Institutional Legacy Day, and presented Pastor Kyle Childress with a special annotated Bible.

In 1848, 2 churches gathered together in Anderson, Texas, to form a Baptist state convention in Texas. Then in 1886, five Baptist state conventions merged together in Waco to form the Baptist General Convention of Texas.Since then, the BGCT has partnered with more than 27 education, health and human care institutions. Institutional Legacy Day was started in 2018 to celebrate these partners.

The partnership between Texas Baptists and Baylor is one that continues to hold strong.

"We have had a long and flourishing relationship with [Texas Baptists] that continues to be very, very strong today," Livingstone said. "Thank you for the recognition and the support you give."

Holly Taylor is a content strategist for GuideStone Financial Resources. Katie Coleman writes for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Bonnie Shaw is a news writer for Texas Baptist Communications.
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