Chick-fil-A founder honored. Baptist layman Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, was named the 2008 winner of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership. Cathy, 87, has led his company to donate more than $100 million since 1967, when the first Chick-fil-A opened in Atlanta, with an emphasis on educational scholarships and foster care. Cathy, a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga., has based his business on Christian principles. His 1,400 Chick-fil-A restaurants, including the mall sites, all close on Sundays, even though fast-food restaurants traditionally do 20 percent of their business on that day. Cathy will donate the cash award that accompanied the Simon Prize to two Union City, Ga., organizations—Christian City, a foster care facility, and Southwest Christian Care, an organization that provides respite care.
Former SBC missionary suspected in insurance scam. The Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board declined to press criminal embezzlement charges in 2005 against a man now accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in an Alabama insurance scam—selling fake insurance policies for homes that most insurance companies do not want to cover because they are susceptible to hurricane damage. Benton Gray Harvey and an accomplice are suspected of scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from residents of the Alabama Gulf Coast. According to legal documents obtained by the Mobile Press-Register, the IMB won a judgment of $359,499.62 against Harvey on March 15, 2005. Harvey served through the mission board as an accountant for a Baptist outpost in Istanbul. IMB trustees fired Harvey over allegations he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for earthquake relief and reportedly decided against pressing charges, citing concerns for missionary safety. The board settled the case for the amount of loss that could be documented—though some observers believe the amount actually missing could be larger—and pledged not to talk about the settlement.
American Baptist missions faces budget shortfall. The board of American Baptists’ National Ministries met recently to consider cuts to cover a $1 million gap between the organization’s income and expenses. National Ministries Executive Director Aidsand Wright-Riggins attributed a continuing decline in mission giving to “job losses, home foreclosures and a decline in personal-investment wealth” resulting from a bad national economy. Leaders hope to develop a plan to bring expenses in line with income within three to five years without tapping reserve funds. National Ministries has responsibility for the evangelism, social-justice, discipleship and mission work of the American Baptist Churches USA. It works with more than 1,300 mission partners who minister as chaplains and pastoral counselors, refugee sponsors, directors of Christian centers, volunteers and church planters across the United States and Puerto Rico.
Central Seminary to launch capital campaign. Central Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of directors approved an $8 million capital campaign to upgrade the school’s new campus and build its endowment. The board gave official approval to a campaign titled “Cultivating Excellence” and a site plan for 10 acres of property in Shawnee, Kan., purchased by the seminary in July 2006. About half of the goal of the capital campaign already has been donated or pledged.