American Baptist leader joins call to close Gitmo. The head of American Baptist Churches USA joined 42 other faith leaders in a letter urging senators to support efforts to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. ABC/USA General Secretary Roy Medley joined Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith leaders urging the Senate to pass a defense-spending bill that would ease restrictions on 164 detainees currently held in Guantanamo. “Guantanamo is a place where prisoners were tortured and where the vast majority of the detainees continue to be held indefinitely without charge or trial,” said the letter coordinated by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “Closing it is the right thing to do.”
Baptist in Tajikistan fined for receiving devotional guides in mail. A Baptist in Tajikistan was fined after three church members received devotional magazines from outside the country that officials said violated the country’s ban on production, import, export, selling and distribution of religious literature. The Norway-based Forum 18 new service reported Madamin Chariyev, a Baptist in the capital city of Dushanbe, was among the individuals warned or fined recently for “illegal” religious literature that does not pass through state censorship. Baptists got into trouble when secret police confiscated copies of Our Daily Bread, a devotional magazine published and distributed in more than 40 languages worldwide by RBC Ministries in Grand Rapids, Mich. The magazines sent to the church for three members came from Belarus, one of the ministry’s locations around the world. Chariyev reportedly paid his fine and decided not to appeal because he didn’t want to get in conflict with legal authorities.
Scottish Baptist to lead relocated seminary. A Scottish Baptist educator and former pastor has been named rector of the International Baptist Theological Study Centre in Amsterdam, a school owned by the European Baptist Federation in the process of relocating from the Czech Republic. The International Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees voted unanimously to hire Stuart Blythe, interim principal of the Scottish Baptist College. Blythe, a 1989 graduate of the seminary then located in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, will be the first alum of the seminary to lead the school established in 1949 to rebuild and unify European Baptists following World War II. Blythe received a Ph.D. in homiletics from the University of Edinburgh in 2009. International Baptist Theological Seminary moved to Prague in 1997, in response to changes in the European Baptist landscape after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Last year, trustees responded to declining revenues and costs associated with maintaining an aging campus by voting to establish a Baptist house, embedded in VU University of Amsterdam, to concentrate on doctor of philosophy study in Baptist/Anabaptist studies and mission and practical theology. Blythe plans to remain as principal at Scottish Baptist College until his seminary appointment begins in June. He and his wife, Susanne, have two adult children.
Georgia Baptists develop Bible Drill app. The Georgia Baptist Convention developed a Bible Drill app for tablets and smart phones. The discipleship tool enables users to review books of the Bible and specific Scripture verses through activity and study options, including games and electronic flashcards. The app—available in the iTunes store—is loaded with three translations used in Bible Drill—the King James Version, the Holman Christian Standard Version and the English Standard Version.
Kentucky Baptists cut ties to college. The Kentucky Baptist Convention voted Nov. 12 to sever ties with Georgetown College, a historically Baptist liberal-arts school chartered in 1829. The motion to terminate a partnership agreement between the entities struck in 2005 was scheduled for vote last year but postponed by this year’s retirement of Georgetown President William Crouch. The intent was to see if Crouch’s successor would be interested in continuing terms of the agreement, including a stipulation that 75 percent of the college board of trustees be Kentucky Baptists. Executive Director Paul Chitwood told messengers to the Kentucky Baptists’ annual meeting Georgetown’s new president, Dwaine Greene, indicated he “had no desire, nor did he feel his board of trustees had any desire, to once again become covenant partners with the KBC.” The vote concludes a four-year process that included a state convention study committee of the Georgetown relationship stemming from differences not only about board makeup, but also Georgetown’s decision to alter its identity statement from sectarian Baptist to one “built on a Baptist foundation” in pursuit of “a knowledge of and commitment to the Christian faith.”