Churches of Southern Baptist ministers who conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in Alabama risk losing their standing with the Alabama Baptist Convention, according to a statement on the convention website. Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, and Alabama Baptist State Convention President Travis Coleman Jr., senior minister at First Baptist Church in Prattville, issued a joint plea to “stand strong for biblical marriage” in the wake of Alabama becoming the 37th state in the nation to permit gay marriage. Any church that allows staff members to officiate at same-sex ceremonies “is clearly outside biblical teachings about marriage and human sexuality, and they demonstrate that they are not in like-minded fellowship or friendly cooperation with Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists,” Lance and Coleman said in the joint statement.
Russian Baptist leader concerned about U.S. assistance to Ukraine. A Russian Baptist leader has voiced concern about recent legislation by Congress authorizing $350 million in lethal and nonlethal military assistance to Ukraine and expanding the president’s authority to impose sanctions on Russian energy and defense firms. Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, said in a published letter Russian Baptists “are deeply concerned” about intensifying conflict in the Ukraine. His letter, addressed primarily to Christians in North America, called on “brothers and sisters in the West and in Ukraine to call for a negotiated, diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.” Leaders of the European Baptist Federation responded to Vlasenko’s letter that Russian Baptists are “understandably concerned” about statements from the U.S. government “that seem to suggest support for an escalation of the militarization of the conflict.” At the same time, European Baptist leaders said, “We also hear the concerns and cries coming from our Ukrainian Baptist family which is suffering so much together with their entire country and who are seeing their country partitioned and then devastated by a war they did not want and did not start.” Instead of taking sides, EBF leaders said they would like to see Baptist leaders in both Russia and Ukraine come together like they did last November in “a joint statement calling for peace, acknowledging their differences but seeking to see beyond them to find a way to encourage their two nations to find a way to live at peace with one another.”Vitaly Vlasenko, director the department for external church affairs for the
LifeWay president announces reorganization. LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer outlined for trustees a vision for the entity’s future that includes a reorganization and leadership changes. Rainer announced the merger of two divisions—Church Resources and B&H Publishing—into LifeWay Resources Division led by current vice president Eric Geiger. Selma Wilson, former vice president of B&H, will direct LifeWay’s new organizational development division that will focus on people strategies, culture development and change management. Trustees also elected Cossy Pachares, a 14-year LifeWay employee, as vice president of the retail division, filling the post vacated by Tim Vineyard, who retired in January.