Tuesday, February 12, 2013Download All Stories
Next door to a mosque, church learns to minister to Muslims
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BP) -- Members of Grace Baptist Church have been well aware of the struggle in their community the last two years over the building of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro next door.
At times they didn't know what to do. At times, as the rhetoric -- often led by Christians -- grew strident, they became fearful and their numbers dwindled.
Interim pastor Dan Watts advised members of Grace Baptist to avoid the community and city council meetings, where the discussion usually turned negative about Muslims, their potential new neighbors. Watts came to the church just as the community's struggle over the new mosque's construction was developing into a local and eventually national news story. He learned later that Muslims had worshiped at a mosque at another location in Murfreesboro for 30 years.
Watts didn't want Grace members to be afraid of the Muslims who were planning to build next door. "I also wanted us to move from not being afraid of Muslims to loving Muslims," he said.
He and the other members of Grace may not know much about Muslims, but they are learning, he said. And he said they realized, as plans to build developed, that "God has placed [Muslims] here."
The fact that Muslims, about 200 it is reported, are now meeting next door to Grace Baptist doesn't "surprise God a bit," Watts said. "We can have a Christian witness right next door."
Even though he served as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board for eight years and witnessed to internationals over the years in different communities, Watts still had a lot to learn.
"I wasn't familiar with our neighbors," he said.
Now he and Grace members don't have to go anywhere to become missionaries. They can be missionaries at home, he said.
Last summer, when construction on the mosque was about to begin, a sign on the property announcing the new mosque was spray-painted with the phrase "Not Welcome." Then an arson fire destroyed excavating equipment at the site. Read More
Attorney: Church bylaws should define marriage"We're in a day where every church needs to have a statement in its bylaws of its doctrinal beliefs on marriage and sexuality."-- ADF attorneyNASHVILLE (BP) -- With the U.S. Supreme Court set to take up gay marriage and potentially legalize it this summer, churches that host wedding ceremonies or other events for traditional couples should examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possible litigation, says an attorney who specializes in religious liberty issues. Read More
Miss. tornado victims getting needed reliefHATTIESBURG, Miss. (BP) -- Mississippi Baptists have activated nine chainsaw, blue tarp and feeding units to respond to victims of the Sunday (Feb. 10) tornado that damaged or destroyed 300 homes and businesses in the state, injured 85 residents, but took no lives. Read More
Britain on path to legalize gay marriage
LONDON (BP) -- British lawmakers have voted in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, putting the country on a path to become the 12th country worldwide to do so. Read More
FROM THE STATES: S.C., Md. & Calif. evangelism/missions news
EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board's call to embrace the world's 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also ... Read More
FIRST-PERSON: Who determines a Bible verse's meaning?
Columnist David Roach cautions against asking "what does this Bible verse mean to you?" and says Christians instead should ask "what did this verse mean to its author?" Read More
FIRST-PERSON: How would you end the Prodigal parable?
Columnist Larry Doyle examines the Parable of the Prodigal Son and suggest that readers ask: How do we respond when it comes to extending grace to others? Read More