Texas Baptists recognized Baylor University on Institutional Legacy Day for 175 years of exemplary Christian higher education. Craig Christina, associate executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, presented a commemorative plaque to Linda Livingstone, president of Baylor University, during a Jan. 26 service at the historic Anderson Baptist Church in Grimes County, site of the BGCT’s formation in 1886. Todd Still, dean of Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary, preached at the service. Baylor was chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas in Independence and moved to Waco in 1886, merging with Waco University. At its Jan. 21 Waco City Council meeting, the city of Waco issued a proclamation declaring Feb. 1 as “Baylor Founders Day.” The Mayborn Museum at Baylor will unveil a new interactive exhibit on Feb. 1 that chronicles the university’s history. Additional historical displays have been installed on campus in Moody Memorial Library and the Bill Daniel Student Center.
More than 250 students from Baptist universities across the state gathered at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor for the three-day Christian Association of Student Leaders Conference. Former UMHB Chaplain George Loutherback created the conference 21 years ago, and it has expanded to serve Baptist universities throughout Texas. Student leaders participated in sessions and roundtables on leadership topics such as “Embracing Purpose,” “Cultivating a Healthy Leadership Culture” and “Impacting the World Through Your Community.” In a service project, students worked in teams to pack 54,615 meals for hungry children. The meals will be distributed by the One More Child organization to schools in the Belton area.
Texas Baptist Men volunteers from Katy distributed 1,750 boxes to people in an area damaged by an explosion at a Houston industrial site. “As people return to the area, they are surveying the damage and looking to see what they can save,” said Dwain Carter, director of TBM Disaster Relief. “These boxes provide a very practical tool to help them. It also provides an opportunity for conversation where trained volunteers can comfort and encourage those who have been affected by the explosion.”
Baptist Temple in San Antonio commissioned 18 members as Stephen Ministers on Jan. 19. A Stephen Minister provides one-on-one distinctively Christian care to hurting people in and around the congregation. While they are not therapists nor lay counselors, Stephen Ministers receive 50 hours of initial training, followed by peer supervision and continuing education. Baptist Temple will be strengthened by “training and deploying church members to apply their spiritual gifts in service to our Lord” and by “providing direct care to people going through a difficult time,” Pastor Jorge Zayasbazan said. Stephen Ministers are found in more than 13,000 churches representing 183 denominations.
Students in Baylor University’s “Philanthropy and the Public Good” course directed $75,000 in grants to six Waco-area nonprofit organizations. The university worked in partnership with the Fort Worth-based Philanthropy Lab, with funding provided by the Baylor/Waco Foundation led by the Solid Gold Neighbor Ambassador Council. Students in the philanthropy class spent the semester evaluating 67 nonprofit organizations, ultimately deciding to fund six: Christian Women’s Job Corps, which offers mentoring and teaches job skills and life skills in a Christ-centered context; Family Abuse Center, which seeks to shelter victims of domestic violence and prevent abuse through intervention and education; Talitha Koum Institute, a mental health therapeutic nurture center; Greater Waco Legal Services, which provides affordable legal services, free monthly legal advice clinics and legal empowerment workshops for those who cannot afford an attorney; Inspiracion, which focuses on empowering at-risk Latino families to break the cycle of poverty by fostering parenting knowledge and skills that directly impact child development; and The Cove, a safe space created for students who are experiencing homelessness. Andy Hogue, associate dean of engaged learning in the College of Arts & Sciences and senior lecturer in Baylor’s Honors Program, developed the “Philanthropy and Public Good” course. Jeremy Vickers, associate vice president of external affairs, and Holly Burchett, director of community relations at Baylor, taught the fall 2019 class.
Actor, author and motivational speaker Charles “Skeeta” Jenkins spoke in a Jan. 15 chapel service at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, where he earned both an undergraduate degree in social work and a master’s degree in marriage and family Christian counseling. In his chapel address, he urged students to build strong foundations of faith that will see them through times of stress and trial. He reflected on the story of Jesus and his disciples crossing a lake when they suddenly were overtaken by a furious storm. Jesus’ disciples were surprised to find their teacher fast asleep. “If you pray in the calm, you can sleep in the storm,” Jenkins said. As a student, Jenkins was part of the inaugural Crusader football team at UMHB in 1998. He is state director of the Giocosa Foundation, a foster care and adoption agency, and serves as team chaplain and character coach for the Temple High School football team.
Houston Baptist University will host “Answering the Call,” a retreat designed to help high school and college students discern God’s calling on their lives, Feb. 21-22. Speakers include John Wethington, founding lead pastor of New Day Church in Houston; Leigh Kohler, founding executive director of The Alliance, a justice ministry that fights human trafficking; Brian Hébert, associate pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston; and Doug Bischoff, Next Generation minister at Houston’s First Baptist Church. Cost is $25, which includes lodging and meals. To register, click here. Youth ministers are invited to attend with their students at no cost, but they are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance.
Darin Davis, director of the Institute for Faith and Learning at Baylor University, has been elected to a four-year term on the National Board of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. Founded in 1991, the Lilly Fellows Program seeks to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related educational institutions through various fellowships, activities and resources. At Baylor, Davis holds a faculty appointment in the Honors Program, serves on the graduate faculty of the department of philosophy, and is affiliated faculty of Truett Theological Seminary. He also serves as principal investigator and project director of the Soundings Project, a $1.5 million grant given to Baylor through the Lilly Endowment “Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose” initiative.
Brenden Hough, a sophomore from Brownwood majoring in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy and practical theology at Howard Payne University, was recognized as one of three “distinguished delegates” at the Northwest Model United Nations conference in Seattle. Hough was one of six HPU students competing in the Model United Nations event, which drew 700 students from 25 educational institutions throughout the United States and Canada.
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Texas Baptists’ Hispanic Evangelism Team and Associación Bautista Latino Americana will host a Hispanic Evangelism Conference Feb. 21-23 at Spring Woods Baptist Church in Houston. The conference will focus on the theme “Modelando la Gran Comision” (Modeling the Great Commission). Keynote speakers include evangelist Samuel Otero and Bulmaro Luna, executive director of ABLA, with worship music provided by the praise and worship team from Life Church of San Antonio. The conference will be in both English and Spanish, with translation available as needed. A Congreso Youth Rally also takes place on Feb. 22, providing a worship event for students.
Texas Baptists—employer of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board staff—received a 2019 Top Workplace, National Standard award presented by The Dallas Morning News. The list is based on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture including alignment, execution and connection. The BGCT Executive Board currently employs more than 250 full and part-time staff. Though based out of Dallas, convention staff span nine service regions that include Waco, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, along the Texas/Mexico border and on 115 college campuses across the state. Staff, who are active members of affiliated churches, are recognized with service awards in five-year increments. “Receiving this recognition is a testament to the servant spirit of our entire staff,” said Rollie Richmond, Texas Baptists’ director of human resources. “We strive daily to reflect our Savior in how we treat those we serve, both inside and outside of the organization. We are always aware that there is much yet to do to continue to grow a positive employee experience, but we are thankful, blessed and humbled by this recognition.”