For some inexplicable reason the much-hyped changes at BBC made the front page of the Commercial Appeal this morning (above the fold, no less). As someone said in the online comments section, "Front page news? Really? Memphis is indeed a backward little place, isn't it?"
A few select comments:
1997 called. It wants its contemporary service back. The Bellevue guy in the article says you are not embracing a fad. I would disgree, you have managed to adopt a fad from 15 years ago.
Come on guys, good preaching, discipleship, and targeted prolonged outreach go a long way towards the health of a church. And there is no doubt there are a lot good people and a lot of good things going on at Bellevue. So I suggest you just use those assets better to reach folks.
This whole 11:11 business seems a bit cheezy to me. If, as it appears to be the case, Steve Gaines is going to be around for a while, I recommend the follwing two changes instead.
1) Dr. Gaines, please stop referring to people of Far Eastern descent as "Orientals." I know you mean no harm but the proper term is Asian. Oriental=rug, Asian=People. Bless you, sir, but I've heard this several times from the pulpit. It just doesn't help your credibility to use outdated terms.
Just an outsider trying to give the outside perspective.
This is food for thought:
I am all for branching out... if that is what a church wants to do. But didn't Comm. Brooks try to hold a Kwanzaa event in a county-owned facility and there was an issue about that due to it being a religious program? I thought the county said no religious events in any county-owned property (or something like that). If you pay... you can play?!? Comm. Brooks should offer to rent a county-run school for her upcoming event.
Are you listening, President Obama?
Churches should be taxed and exposed for what they are...businesses.
So Fort God loosens its dress code so it can rake in more donations... er... I mean souls.
If you want to know what it's all about, just follow the money!
Er... see above.
Wingo is Gaines' son-in-law. Nothing like nepotism to keep food on the table.
Certainly the prednisone is a contributing factor, but don't brag about always ordering the "dessert sampler plate" and obsess over food in nearly every sermon.
Gaines harboring of a pedophile is but one shameful thing he's done. For instance, he had the locks changed on the office to prevent Adrian Rogers (who was rapidly dying of cancer) from entering. He was offered the same amount of money Adrian Rogers made, but Gaines told them he couldn't live on it. Yes, he had the unmitigated gall to expect more money than a man who had been the faithful pastor for 30+ years (and Adrian Rogers used to refuse pay raises). Gaines is a narcissist par excellence. He is as the scribes and Pharisees described by our Lord in Matthew 23. He ties up heavy burdens for the people. He demands honor, and the uppermost seats. He does his deeds to be seen by others. He makes his phylacteries broad and his fringes long. And his rich enablers at Bellevue can't see it. I don't know how anyone who knows anything about him can sit under his preaching.
All that said, Gaines has a serious disease called myasthenia gravis which requires a heavy daily dose of prednisone, a steroid. He has now been on it for years and it has impacted his appearance. Criticize him for his actions, but leave his appearance alone, particularly when you don't know the facts.
JMO but when individual congregations get too big like BBC, the congregation itself becomes the focus of the church and not its religious message.
If I wanted to join an exclusive country club I would.
I've wondered if this wasn't part of the reason behind "Bellevue Lo♥es Memphis" crews sprucing up county schools, (isn't that what we pay taxes for?), last year's taped message during a morning worship service from county mayor, A.C. Wharton, and appearances by various city and county politicians at church services. A little quid pro quo goin' on here?
For those that are concerned about Bellevue using a county school, it should be pointed out the the county schools have been using Bellevue free of charge for many years. Several schools hold their graduation services at Bellevue and some schools hold football camps at Bellevue as well. I also believed that city and county wide teachers meetings have been held at Bellevue at the beginning of school years in the past.
Also, Bellevue sends out volunteers to clean, repair and spruce up county and city schools once a quarter as part of their Bellevue Loves Memphis program.
From the article:
"I was in the staff meeting when Adrian Rogers announced he was retiring (after 32 years in the pulpit)," said Jim Barnwell, director of communications. "He said it was time for a younger man to lead Bellevue Church, and I think music is one of the things implied in that."
Really, Jim? You think these extremes in "music" were what Dr. Rogers was "implying"? Personally, I think that whirring sound we've heard the past few years is coming from Memory Hill Gardens in Bartlett, but maybe I'm imagining things. I saw a clip from yesterday's "11:11" service, and all I could think was I'm glad Dr. Rogers isn't here to see this. Of course, if he were still here, we wouldn't be seeing this.
For all the hype leading up to this, from the clip I saw, it was all rather anti-climactic. Maybe they need to drag out the fog machines and funky lights from i2Memphis. Seeing Ryan Wingo dressed in a sloppy shirt and wrinkled khakis making goofy faces, strumming a guitar, and chewing on the mic is getting rather old.
Does anyone recognize the setting forthis? Is it a rock concert at FedEx Forum? A Saturday night fun fest at Autozone Park? No? Watch thewhole video for the answer. You know, there is a good reason it's called "the sanctuary"!
For the second year (I suppose that establishes it as a "tradition" now) Bellevue has played host to at least two Shelby County and Memphis City School teacher in-service days in the church auditorium and fellowship hall. Last year's meetings were described here and in this comment from a teacher who attended:
I am a Shelby County teacher and former Bellevue member who attended our system-wide inservice at Bellevue on August 7. I was shocked that this inservice was allowed at Bellevue. A SCEA/TEA/NEA representative was allowed to speak and encourage membership from the pulpit! I never remember anyone from SCEA speaking at inservices in the past. But this year they were allowed and in a Baptist Church! I belong to the CEAI, Chrisian Educators Association International, and they are never allowed to openly encourage membership.
There was also a comic skit put on by a group of four (can't remember the group's name), paid for with our tax money. In the skit which lasted about 30 minutes, there was a joke about Chippendales, Sex Ed class, someone's rear end, and a slur against McCain, and all of this was from the pulpit!
And to top it off, there were merchants selling jewelry, clothing, purses, etc. in the lobby!
I can't believe this hasn't been discussed more, made the news, newspaper, etc. My heart was broken that Bellevue has veered so far from the conservative leadership of Dr. Rogers. Does anyone at Bellevue not remember the stance he took against the liberal NEA and what they stood for? This was just unbelievable!
August 16, 2008
More discussion followed here beginning with the above, about the 12th comment down. (Sorry, permalinks don't appear to be working for that page.)
One would think after receiving criticism such as this that the church administration would either suggest the schools find another place to meet or at the very least set down some guidelines. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. After all, we wouldn't want to insult our guests by expecting them to adhere to certain standards, would we?
I received the following letter from the same Shelby County teacher last week with a request that I post it on the blog.
I am a Shelby County teacher and this is our second year to meet at Bellevue Baptist Church. I am ashamed to say I was ever a member of Bellevue. Today Phil Newberry welcomed the teachers and staff to Bellevue. Instead of having prayer for the 2010-2011 teachers and staff, he had a "moment of silence" as he stood under a banner that says, "My house shall be a house of prayer." I had a lot of respect for Phil Newberry but after today, I have lost it. Was he too embarrassed to have prayer or did he succumb to pressure from the school board that he only have a moment of silence?
Once again the SCEA president stood behind the pulpit to drum up support for the SCEA. And to think that some of the members' dues go to support the liberal NEA. On many occasions Dr. Rogers stood behind the same pulpit and told the congregation about the NEA's liberal agenda. They are in support of legalized abortions and homosexual rights, just to mention a few. They are one of the largest and most powerful lobbyist groups in Washington, D.C.
And then the speaker. I could not believe that he was allowed to speak in Bellevue's pulpit. He made a joke that some students were so bad that teachers might be tempted to smoke crack! He joked that teachers smoking crack probably had not been talked about in a Baptist church before! His talk was full of sexual innuendoes and other conversation that should not have been spoken from the pulpit.
As I was walking through the parking lot to my car, I heard 4 men talking about the speaker. I overheard one of them say to one of the other men that the speaker wasn't boring but he was close to forgetting that he was in a church and not in a nightclub. I don't know whether these men were Christians or not but they knew that this man should not be allowed behind the pulpit of the church.
I was embarrassed, angry, and hurt that Bellevue has strayed so far from the principles of God's word. The leadership of Bellevue will have to answer to God for compromising the Word of God.
August 29, 2009
Before someone trots out Matthew 18 as an example of how this situation should have been handled (which would not apply in this case anyway), the teacher stated she did write Phil Newberry but got no response.
Is this an indirect, if inadvertent, endorsement of the NEA by Bellevue Baptist Church?
The following resolution was passed at this year's NEA convention:
In implementation of the foregoing policies, the Representative Assembly adopts the following action plan with regard to same-sex couples:
1. NEA will support its affiliates seeking to enact state legislation that guarantees to same-sex couples the right to enter into a legally recognized relationship pursuant to which they have the same rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples, including, without limitation, rights and benefits with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration.
2. NEA does not believe that a single term must be used to designate this legally recognized "equal treatment" relationship, and recommends that each state decide for itself whether "marriage," "civil union," "domestic partnership," or some other term is most appropriate based upon the cultural, social, and religious values of its citizenry.
3. NEA will support its affiliates in opposing state constitutional and/or statutory provisions that could have the effect of prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions from providing the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples as are provided to similarly-situated heterosexual couples.
4. NEA will take such actions as may be appropriate to support efforts to (a) repeal any federal legislation and/or regulations that discriminate against same-sex couples, and (b) enact federal legislation and/or regulations that treat same-sex couples and similarly-situated heterosexual couples equally with regard to social security, health care, taxation, and other federal rights and benefits.
5. NEA recognizes that the term "marriage" has religious connotations and that same-sex marriages may not be compatible with the beliefs, values, and/or practices of certain religions. Because of its support for the separation of church and state and the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, NEA supports the right of religious institutions to refuse to perform or recognize same-sex marriages.
Hereis a list of NEA resolutions from 2007-2008. Even a cursory reading of this document will give you an idea of some of the agendas promoted by this organization which are contrary to what most Baptists believe. Here are but three examples:
1. Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identification Discrimination
The National Education Association believes in the equality of all individuals. Discrimination and stereotyping based on such factors as race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, ethnicity, immigration status, occupation, and religion must be eliminated.
The Association also believes that these factors should not affect the legal rights and obligations of the partners in a legally recognized domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage in regard to matters involving the other partner, such as medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration.
The Association further believes that plans, activities, and programs for education employees, students, parents/guardians, and the community should be developed to identify and eliminate discrimination and stereotyping in all educational settings. Such plans, activities, and programs must:
a. Increase respect, understanding, acceptance, and sensitivity toward individuals and groups in a diverse society composed of such groups as American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered persons, and people with disabilities
b. Eliminate discrimination and stereotyping in curricula, textbooks, resource and instructional materials, activities, etc.
c. Foster the dissemination and use of nondiscriminatory and nonstereotypical language, resources, practices, and activities
d. Eliminate institutional discrimination
e. Integrate an accurate portrayal of the roles and contributions of all groups throughout history across curricula, particularly groups that have been underrepresented historically
f. Identify how prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination have limited the roles and contributions of individuals and groups, and how these limitations have challenged and continue to challenge our society
g. Eliminate subtle practices that favor the education of one student over another on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, ethnicity, or religion
h. Encourage all members of the educational community to examine assumptions and prejudices, including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, and homophobia, that might limit the opportunities and growth of students and education employees
i. Offer positive and diverse role models in our society, including the recruitment, hiring, and promotion of diverse education employees in our public schools
j. Coordinate with organizations and concerned agencies that promote the contributions, heritage, culture, history, and special health and care needs of diverse population groups
k. Promote a safe and inclusive environment for all.
The National Education Association believes that a diverse society enriches all individuals.
Similarities and differences among race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, geographic location, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, physical ability, size, occupation, and marital, parental, or economic status form the fabric of a society.
The Association also believes that education should foster the values of appreciation and acceptance of the various qualities that pertain to people as individuals and as members of diverse populations.
The Association further believes in the importance of observances, programs, and curricula that accurately portray and recognize the roles, contributions, cultures, and history of these diverse groups and individuals.
The Association encourages affiliates and members to become part of programs and observances that may include cultural and heritage celebrations and/or history months.
3. Home Schooling
The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.
The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.
The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting.
I will leave it to the teacher above and others to show the NEA supports legalized abortion.
And I will ask the administration of Bellevue to prayerfully consider if this is the sort of program they think reflects favorably on the church and its mission.
Love God Love People Share Jesus Make Disciples
Exactly how does lending your pulpit to a "nightclub act" accomplish that?
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