|EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.
Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
Forum 18 news service
HLGU Celebrates the Inauguration of Dr. Anthony Allen as 17th President
By Rebecca Penner
HANNIBAL, Mo. (Hannibal-LaGrange University) -- It was a morning of pageantry and ceremony on Friday, October 26th, as Hannibal-LaGrange University inaugurated Dr. Anthony Allen as its 17th president.
A recorded greeting was given to Allen from President Emeritus Dr. Woodrow Burt who was unable to attend due to his being abroad, teaching for a semester at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England. "I offer my congratulations to Dr. Allen, the HLGU Board of Trustees, and the HLGU faculty and friends," Burt said in the message. "With his strong faith, solid experience, and clear vision, Anthony Allen is the right leader to take Hannibal-LaGrange University to the next level."
Similar greetings were also given from Dr. Bob Agee, President Emeritus of Oklahoma Baptist University, and Dr. Kevin Shrum, trustee chairman of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who told HLGU "you are getting a jewel."
The inaugural address was brought by Dr. David S. Dockery, president of Union University and author and editor of 35 books.
In his address Dockery said the president of a Baptist university "needs the mind of a scholar, the caring spirit of a pastor, the savvy of a business leader, the heart of a child and the hide of a rhinoceros."
Dockery also addressed Allen and the audience equally with his message continually going back to the point that the Lord is preeminent in all things, is the only one who satisfies and "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," Colossians 2:3.
Following the inaugural address, Dr. Lawrence Clapp, friend and mentor to Allen, gave the inaugural charge and prayer. "There's power in personal touch," he said to Allen. "Share your heart with their heart…Take time to touch people with faith because the people who are going to build this school are the students you send out of here."
The climax of the event was reached when Allen was presented with his presidential medallion by Terry Buster Sr., chairman of the Board of Trustees who quoted Isaiah 66:2 saying, "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."
After receiving the medallion, Allen gave his presidential response, saying, "I'm here simply because there's a long line of good people along the way who invested in me, who made me a priority, who gave me a good start in life."
He also listed his Four Pillars of Administration that he believes should hold up Hannibal-LaGrange University. "We need to be distinctively Christian, demonstrate doctrinal and denominational commitment, be academically excellent, and be strategically focused."
Allen continued, saying that "excellence in Christian higher education must begin with a stellar faculty and I'm committed to investing in the faculty to see that we have the necessary resources to fulfill our mission to teach and to educate students."
During the ceremony, Allen was also presented with resolutions from the Southern Baptist Convention, the Missouri Baptist Convention, the Missouri State House of Representatives and the City of Hannibal.
Other inaugural events included a special chapel service and dinner on Wednesday, an evening commemorating the history of HLGU on Thursday, an inaugural reception following the ceremony, and a concert featuring Big Daddy Weave and Aaron Shust on Friday.
Senior pastor Steve Dighton and worship pastor Bill Shiflett of Allen's home church, Lenexa Baptist Church, were our special guests at Wednesday morning chapel. Shiflett and his wife Kerri led the congregation in praise and worship followed by a message on servant leadership from Dighton. As a special surprise, Allen closed chapel by singing Chris Tomlin's version of "All the Way My Savior Leads Me."
Wednesday night, students dressed up for a student steak supper in the cafeteria.
Thursday night, two of HLGU's ministry groups, The New Edition and Praise Song, along with the media communications and theatre departments presented the story of HLGU from its start in 1858 to present day. Afterward, a dessert reception was held in the lobby of the Roland Fine Arts Center.
After the inauguration on Friday, the president's reception was held on the blue court in the Mabee Sports Complex. Later on, the day was rounded out with the well-attended concert by Aaron Shust and Big Daddy Weave.
International Students Celebrate Thanksgiving Feasts with HSU Faculty and Staff
ABILENE, Texas (Hardin-Simmons University) -- While most of the Hardin-Simmons University campus population took time off for the Thanksgiving break, some faculty and staff members welcomed international students into their homes for the Thanksgiving meal.
Bonnie Powell, coordinator of undergraduate admissions, said she was expecting some interesting conversations during the holiday as she and her family and two HSU international students traveled to her sister's house in Cisco, Texas, for the holiday.
Powell can always be counted on to share holidays with students. "I think that holidays are important events, and they are most fun when shared with lots of family members and friends. I cannot imagine sitting home alone on a day such as Thanksgiving," Powell says. "To some of these students, this might be their first Thanksgiving in the USA. I hosted a foreign exchange student from Finland for nine months. It was so much fun introducing her to our American traditions. It is fun to explain to them what we do on holidays, and it is nice to hear about the holidays they celebrate," she says.
"HSU is home to more than 50 international students," says Kim O'Dell in the athletics office, who was pairing the students with families. Approximately 20 international students were staying in Abilene during the Thanksgiving holiday. "Students love to experience a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, so it is a time that HSU faculty and staff can participate in this wonderful opportunity to share the season and bring another part of the world into their own home," O'Dell says.
Dr. Janelle O'Connell, professor and head of HSU's physical therapy department, and her husband, HSU professor of physical therapy, Dr. Dennis O'Connell, hosted Deetan, a student from Malaysia. Joining them were colleague and professor of physical therapy, Dr. Marty Hinman, and her husband Pete; the O'Connell's three children and their spouses, Evan and Heather O'Connell from Purcell, Oklahoma; Cameron and April O'Connell from The Woodlands, Texas; and daughter Keelan O'Connell, from Washington, D.C.
"Our traditional food is turkey with all the trimmings and this year we are adding lasagna," O'Connell says. The day promised to be a busy one for Deetan and his host family, as they participated in the Abilene Runner's Club Turkey Trot. "If the weather is nice, we hope to kayak and canoe on Lytle Lake or toss the football around in the yard and watch football on television. We also enjoy a rousing game of Pictionary," O'Connell says.
John Snapp, director of human resources at HSU, says they will be welcoming Dawei He (David), an accounting major from Shanghai, China, and Gang Liu (Sam), from Kunming, China, into their home for their traditional meal. "We are expected to have around 20 family members plus our two international friends and one of Brody's friends, Brandon. Brandon is an HSU student from Colorado who is not able to go home for Thanksgiving either."
Powell tells a funny story that happened to her when she hosted an international student for the Christmas holiday last year. Powell says her family sometimes plays a game called Chinese Christmas. "We purchase gift cards and exchange them. As I started explaining the game, I realized our visitor was from China -- we were playing Chinese Christmas. He didn't get it, because he did not actually celebrate Christmas in China." Powell says she was suddenly afraid that he would be offended, but as it turned out, it was a nice surprise for him to find out that Americans play such a game. Powell says he was also very happy with the gift card he was able to take home with him.
Other faculty and staff members sharing the day with HSU's international students were Dr. John Eric Swenson, professor of psychology; Dr. Joseph Bailey, professor of communications; and John Neese, HSU's athletic director.
China: Weibo & freedom of religion/belief
By Magda Hornemann, Forum 18 News Service
OSLO, Norway (Forum 18) -- The popular Chinese microblog Weibo has served as an effective means for individual religious adherents to express beliefs and to voice criticisms about phenomena concerning religion. It has also served as a platform for news about freedom of religion or belief violations. However, Weibo's limitations are evident in that criticisms of the state, especially of the central political leaders, are limited and can only be indirect. Moreover, there is no indication that it has been able to mobilise effective collective action to address specific cases. So Weibo has yet to demonstrate an ability to be used to effectively protect religious freedom.
Since being founded in 2009, Weibo, a microblog that has elements of Twitter and Facebook, has become one of the most popular Internet platforms in China. According to the 30th Survey Report of the China Internet Network Information Center of 28 September 2012, as of June 2012 there were 538 million Chinese Internet users. In October 2012, the Singapore-based China Internet Watch reported that China's Data Center of China's Internet (DCCI) indicated that nearly 90 percent of China's Internet users are Weibo users. This means that the number of Weibo users, at approximately 450 million, is more than the entire population of the United States and is almost equal to the population of the European Union.
Weibo is the generic Chinese term for microblogging. There are several Weibo providers. Sina Weibo is the best-known provider and is the one that most Chinese think of when referring generally to Weibo. However, according to Steven Millward, a Shanghai-based social media expert, Tencent Weibo has the largest number of registered users with 469 million as of June 2012. Sina Weibo has approximately 370 million registered users and over 36 million average daily active users. Netease Weibo is third, with over 260 million registered users.
China has long imposed censorship on the Internet, including of foreign-based websites. Foreign sites which have been blocked include those related to the persecution of Christians and other religious faiths, the Dalai Lama, the Falun Gong religious movement, the Muslim Uygurs of Xinjiang and a number of Catholic sites. Most such sites remain blocked today.
Chinese search engines prevent searches for sensitive terms, including religious freedom-related terms such as "Falun Gong" and "Dalai Lama", or provide only links to state-sponsored sites proving the government's view.
However, the growth of the Internet, including more Chinese-based websites, the spread of new platforms - such as Weibo - and tools, including proxies, have made such censorship more difficult.
Weibo and state-society relations
According to Professors Guobin Yang and Craig Calhoun of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University, respectively, Weibo has displayed even faster speed, greater reach, and more interactivity than other Internet vehicles, such as websites used by Chinese environmental activists to oppose the building of dams on the Nu River in south-western China. As a result, Weibo has accumulated many achievements during its short period of existence.
For example, in July 2011, two high-speed trains collided outside Wenzhou, in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. News of the collision - which led to 40 deaths and injuries to 191 people - was immediately posted on Weibo. Tens of millions of users posted and re-posted information about the collision while engaging in discussions. According to a 28 July 2011 New York Times report, when Weibo exposed the local government officials' directive to lawyers that the latter should not accept cases from the families of victims without the former's approval, the local government immediately withdrew the order and apologised. According to the same New York Times report, when Weibo users discovered and criticised the local government's decision to bury the first train to cover up the incident, local officials quickly unearthed the train and sent it for analysis.
But despite Weibo's achievements, no one should deny the presence of the state. As stated by a China-based American with the alias Martin Johnson who founded two websites, Greatfire.org and Freeweibo.com, which monitor Internet censorship in China: "The reason why Weibo exists is because the allowed it to." Indeed, the communist state has incentives to support Weibo. As Reuters noted in a 31 October 2012 report, industry executives in China indicated that the government can use Weibo to obtain "real-time feedback on policies and a method to take stock of the public mood." The same report quoted Michael Anti, a Chinese blogger and journalist, as noting that the Chinese central authorities can use Weibo to take action against local officials and rival factions. According to Anti, if Weibo "is a battlefield ... the government seeks to occupy it, not destroy it."
So Weibo may become a vehicle for political change in China - or serve as a means by which the Communist Party remains in power. The verdict is still out on which side will eventually win the day. Continued...