|ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (BP) -- Curtis Woods has been elected by the Kentucky Baptist Convention's Mission Board as associate executive director for convention relations and communications.
Woods, who began his duties July 1, has served as Baptist campus minister at Kentucky State University since 2006.
KBC President Adam Greenway said he believes Woods now holds the highest staff position by an African American among the "old-line" state Baptist conventions.
While Woods is responsible for maintaining good relations with all Kentucky Baptists, he will be relied upon specifically to relate to African American Baptists and promote racial reconciliation within the convention, according to a news story in the Western Recorder, the state convention's newsjournal.
Woods is capable of "bridging the gap that, all too often, has separated us in the Southern Baptist Convention," KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood said.
Woods also will oversee the KBC's external communications department formerly led by Robert Reeves, who is assuming a teaching position at Anderson University in South Carolina.
Following Woods' election, Greenway said Woods is testimony "of the grace of God, not only in the color of his skin, but in the content of his character."
Chitwood, meanwhile, said of Woods' election, "I celebrate this, I know Kentucky Baptists will celebrate this, and I am trusting that our African American Baptists will celebrate this.
"But this is about much, much more," Chitwood said. As with Fred Luter's election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Chitwood said Woods' selection is not just about naming an African American to a top post in the Kentucky convention. "While that's incredibly important," he said, "this is about the right man in the job. … It's just across the board: He is a top-tiered leader who will excel in this position."
Prior to his work at Kentucky State, Woods served on staff at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and Old St. James Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Ark. He holds a master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and currently is pursuing a doctorate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The KBC has welcomed more than 165 ethnic congregations in recent decades, more than 90 of which are African American. Chitwood said he hopes Woods' election sends a strong message to them: "that African American individuals, leaders and churches will hear us keeping the promises that we've made with regard to inclusion, equality, to an open door—not just a seat at the table, but even to leadership roles in our convention."
Woods' work will strategically poise the state convention for the future, Chitwood added, noting, "I hope we are sending a signal that we want our KBC staff to look like Kentucky." Recent news reports indicate that for the first time in U.S. history more that half of the babies born were brown in color, leading to the projection that over the next few decades the face of America will change dramatically. "We want, as a convention, to be poised to evangelize the ever-growing diversity of population in our state," Chitwood said.
The KBC Mission Board, in a special meeting June 26, also named several others to the convention staff, including Chuck McAlister as leader of the newly formed evangelism and church planting team. He will begin Sept. 1.
The evangelism and church planting team is one of the three areas of focus the convention has adopted in the new organizational structure. The others are missions mobilization and church consulting and revitalization.
McAlister will be responsible for overseeing collegiate and ethnic ministries in the state, as well as developing strategic evangelism strategies for Kentucky Baptists to implement in their associations and churches.
Since 2009, McAlister has served primarily as an evangelist through Promise of Hope Ministries in Hot Springs, Ark., of which he is the president. He also serves as director of constituent relations for Baptist Global Response. He previous led The Church at Crossgate Center in Hot Springs, Ark., for 17 years. In 1996, McAlister and his wife Janice launched the award-winning national cable TV program "Adventure Bound Outdoors." He also has authored several books.
In Kentucky, McAlister served as pastor of Old Cedar Baptist Church in Owenton from 1979-81. He holds a master's degree from Southern Seminary and a doctorate at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His PATTERSONS ADDRESS FAMILY CONFERENCE IN SPAIN -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy spoke, respectively, on religious freedom and the ability of mothers to empower the next generation during the sixth World Congress of Families in Madrid, Spain.
People from 80 countries attended the congress, an international forum for discussions on the value of family as it directly affects the structure of society. Its members seek to support and affirm policies, legislation and ideas that undergird the family unit toward as a key facet of a constructive society.
Paige Patterson, in his presentation "Religious Symbols in Public Spaces, a Right?" noted various instances worldwide in which one group or another physically or litigiously sought to remove symbols of faith from display in both the private and public sectors of a culture. Among such instances: the 2002 vandalism of more than 230 Islamic monuments in the western India state of Gujarat; the burning of copies of the Quran by American soldiers and civilians; the Taliban's destruction of Buddha statues; and the pressures on Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Judge Roy Moore to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from state property, which resulted in his removal from office.
"Each of these events and hundreds of others like them emphasize both the intensity of religious convictions and the complications that frequently result when public policy collides with religious conviction," Patterson said during the May 25-27 congress. "In response, one can wring his hands in consternation and hopelessness, or he can attempt to set just standards equitable to all faiths and ask the human family to inculcate these principles in all religious matters."
Patterson pointed to the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as offering helpful insight to applying the ideals of religious liberty to the public square.
"Both of these declarations recognize the crucial nature of religious liberty," Patterson said. "Indeed, religious liberty is the fountainhead of all liberties, and without this freedom, no society is genuinely free."
A distinction must be made, however, between "religious liberty" and "religious toleration," Patterson said.
"I once complained to a statesman about the lack of religious liberty in his country," Patterson recounted. "Offended, he insisted that his country had religious liberty. I responded that what he intended was that a person had a right to remain in the 'religion of his birth,' but not the right to change his faith and not the right to a free market place of open discussion of the values and essence of all religion."
Governments should avoid "sponsorship of partisan religious symbols in public places," Patterson said, but temporary religious symbols that do not create physical danger should be allowed as exercise of religious liberty. Governments, he said, should respect peaceful symbols from every faith in the effort to support the formulation of a just and free generation as it rises to leadership.
"The relationship of this issue to families and family life is that parents attempting to rear children in a culture of death have every right to expect governments to ensure justice and equal opportunity for religious expression, thus aiding the family in its assignment," Patterson said.
Dorothy Patterson, professor of theology in women's studies at Southwestern, in her presentation, "A Modern Paradigm for Motherhood: Mothers Empowered to Empower a New Generation," noted the opportunity mothers have to shape the world's next work force and thus society as a whole.
"Being a mother is often perceived to be a thankless and joyless, as well as an overwhelming, task," Dorothy Patterson said. "Many look at rearing children as a hardship tour in the duties of life -- burdens and sacrifices, self-denial and boredom, an interruption and an inconvenience." Patterson said women have been "brainwashed to believe that the absence of a titled, payroll occupation condemns a woman to failure, boredom and even imprisonment within the confines of her home."
Though motherhood requires many sacrifices, it is a high and rewarding calling, Patterson said, one that she describes as her crowning achievement and highlight of her life's work.
"Motherhood is important enough to demand a woman's diligent preparation, foremost commitment, full energies and greatest creativity for many reasons," Patterson said. "Each generation must be sure there is another generation. A mother does her job without the enticement of a paycheck, but she cannot be duplicated for any amount of money." Continued...