September 2, 2014


NEWTOWN, Conn. (BP) -- Area Southern Baptists are preparing to provide any assistance that may be needed for families impacted by Friday morning's mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, where at least 27 were killed, including 20 children.

"It's such a tragedy. It's one thing when it's adults, but when it's little children being killed, it's just hard to fathom."
-- Pastor Bryan Sims
Bryan Sims, pastor of Southbury Baptist Church about 15 minutes from the school, said hours after the tragedy he was contacting members to see if any of them were directly impacted. A resident from the Newtown area has been visiting Southbury for a few months, Sims said.

"We're all very grieved, definitely praying for those who are going through that down in Newtown. It's such a tragedy. It's one thing when it's adults, but when it's little children being killed, it's just hard to fathom," Sims said. "I've emailed everybody in the church and put it on our church Facebook page that ... I'm here to talk, pray if anybody needs to. I'm kind of gauging the response right now. I'm not sure if people want to come to the church or if they want to be with their families right now."

Itamar Maciel, interim pastor of the Spanish-language-speaking All Nations Church, a Southern Baptist plant in nearby Danbury, said his church will sponsor a community prayer meeting Saturday at 7 p.m. in response to the tragedy.

He said the children of his 100 members are likely enrolled in public schools in Danbury, rather than Sandy Hook Elementary, the scene of the mass shooting.

The tragedy unfolded when one or two gunmen entered the school and began shooting. Police were still on the scene Friday afternoon (Dec. 14); the presumed shooter was dead inside the school with other victims.

Sims said Southbury could itself use prayer to know the best way to respond to the tragedy.

"We're just here to reach out to anybody we can," Sims said.

Mark Angerosa, interim director of mission for the Western Connecticut Baptist Association, said he will work across denominational lines to access the need for assistance, even as the association is still responding to Connecticut's damage from October's Hurricane Sandy.

"It's still very early to tell," Angerosa said. "There are some ... very large churches in that area. In the evangelical community in Connecticut, we tend to work across denominational lines where it's helpful. And we'll certainly see if we can get on board with anything they are doing in that area already."

Angerosa said any outreach could be extension of disaster relief already underway in response to Sandy.

"We've just had some people in our association trained for disaster relief, through the Baptist Convention of New England, and we're gearing ourselves up to assist with the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, which is still a great need in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey," Angerosa said. ... Read More

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NASHVILLE (BP) -- Church planting and increased ethnic diversity were celebrated in many of the state Baptist conventions' annual meetings this fall. In California three congregations involved in reaching a different ethnic group were featured, including Chinese Baptists ministering on an Indian reservation, one Anglo church engaged in reaching Hispanics and another hosting six different congregations -- Afghani, African American, Arabic, Armenian, Hispanic and Korean. Read More
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NASHVILLE (BP) -- Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas writes in a new book about how her faith in God and the support of her family helped her stick with gymnastics when she felt like quitting.
      "Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith," published by Zondervan, tells the story of Douglas, 16, who became the first black gymnast to win the all-around competition when she took gold this summer in London. Read More
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NORTHERN AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST (BP) -- Sadiqah* has heard many stories of what sometimes happens to people in her country who turn from Islam to Christ.
      She heard of some whose family tortured them with electricity and told them that's what it will feel like when they burn in hell. Read More
WEEK OF PRAYER: Daughter endures mother's anger over faith in Christ
"I read all the Gospels, and I saw that they were different and beautiful."
NORTHERN AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST (BP) -- Mahfuzah* thought no one knew she believed in Jesus until the day her mother beat her.
      "She said, 'Something is different about you. What is it?' I told her I was the same," Mahfuzah recounted. ... Read More

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