Montana Baptist E-News

The Montana Baptist E-News | January 2015

MTSBC CALENDAR

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April

4.5 Easter

4.7 Staff Meeting

4.12 Cooperative Program Sunday

4.17-18 Get Real East (Billings)

4.17 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

4.18 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls)

4.23-25 Celebration for Women (Great Falls)


May

5.2-3 TSBA Pastors Retreat

5.13-16 Spring Staff Retreat

5.26 Memorial Day, Office Closed


June

6.1-3 Summer Missionary Orientation

6.2 Staff Meeting

6.15-17 SBC Annual Meeting


July

7.2 Independence Day, Office Closed

7.27-28 Send North America

7.27-8.8 Peru Mission Trip


August

7.27-8.8 Peru Mission Trip

8.4 Staff Meeting

8.10-12 Shepherding the Shepherd

8.28 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

8.29 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls)


September

9.6-27 Montana Missions Offering Emphasis

9.1 Staff Meeting

9.7 Labor Day, Office Closed

9.15-16 MTSBC Executive Board Meeting

9.29 Staff Meeting


October

10.6 Pastor's Conference (Bozeman)

10.6 Pastor's Wives Luncheon (Bozeman)

10.6-7 MTSBC Annual Meeting (Bozeman)


November

11.5 Staff Meeting

11.6-7 Get Real West (Missoula)

11.26-27 Thanksgiving, Office Closed


December

12.4 Elevate (Bozeman/Missoula)

12.5 Elevate (Miles City/Great Falls)

12.9-10 Winter Staff Retreat

12.10 Christmas Party

12.24-31 Christmas, Office Closed

Fred Hewett

Why We Support Missions Through the Cooperative Program

Fred Hewett, MTSBC Executive Director

Southern Baptists are mission-minded people. Supporting mission work throughout the world through the Cooperative Program is an integral part of what is means to be Southern Baptist. Built on the premise that we can do more together than any one church can do alone, the Cooperative Program is our primary support system supporting over 10,000 missionaries around the world.


2014 was the very best year Montana Southern Baptist Churches have ever experienced in Cooperative Program mission giving. Exceeding our previous best year in 2013, Montana Southern Baptist churches increased their Cooperative Program giving by 9% giving a combined amount of over $556,000.


This kind of remarkable giving reflects the bold and consistent leadership of our pastors and the commitment of sacrificial giving of their church and members.


I asked several of our MTSBC pastors to share why they are committed to supporting missions through the Cooperative Program. Here is what they said. [READ MORE]


Mike Andrews, Colstrip

First Baptist Church Colstrip, 10 years


As a pastor I must take the initiative and lead in the area of Great Commission Giving in concern and in example. To quote a missionary friend of mine. “ If the pastor has no heart for missions and no initiative in involvement, the people will not have it either.” I am truly blessed to serve a church that follows leadership and genuinely shares my love for carrying out the Great Commission here in our Jerusalem, Judea and to the uttermost parts of the world.”

Steve Young, Montana City

South Hills Baptist Fellowship, 6 years


At South Hills Baptist Fellowship we happily support missions through the Cooperative Program. We are not a large church, but we have a large impact for the Kingdom as we support six Seminaries, 5,000 international missionaries, several thousand missionaries in North America serving as church planters, chaplains, summer student missionaries, and other Kingdom personnel. How can a small church in Montana, far removed from the Bible belt have a worldwide impact for the Gospel? Support the Cooperative Program.


About five years ago SHBF accepted the one percent challenge. The Cooperative Program giving at SHBF had slipped to a small percentage. As pastor I challenged the church to set a goal of giving 10% to CP. All I had to do was communicate what the CP does for the Kingdom for the church to accept the challenge. People will support what they see as important. The CP is vitally connected to the Great Commission.


When the Treasure State Baptist Association hosted an “On Mission Celebration,” it was a joy to introduce “OUR” missionaries to SHBF. For five summers our ministries have benefitted from Student Missionaries because CP. We have the privilege of being exposed to leaders like Dr. John Bisagno at MPact because of CP. Every year our leaders are involved in VBS training because of CP. Because of the Cooperative Program a church in Montana is involved in vital Kingdom Ministries around the world. I am happy that in 2015 South Hills will reach the 10% level in CP giving. That is a challenge I happily accept.

Frank Burns, Lewistown

Central Baptist Church, 17 years


In 1997 I was called to be pastor of Central Baptist Church in Lewistown. Shortly after beginning my pastoral ministry at CBC, I received some excellent counsel from our previous pastor, Earl Evans. He told me that Central had a long standing practice of making the Cooperative Program Missions offering first priority for our church. Even during the lean years, the church faithfully gave from their “first fruits” to the CP offering. He advised me not to change that priority. I am very thankful for such good advice. God has honored and blessed Central’s faithful stewardship to missions through this SBC tool to do our part in funding the Great Commission efforts of the SBC.


As a believer and especially a pastor, I believe it is important to be biblically consistent. When I challenge our folks to make stewardship a priority in their lives, then it is consistent to also make it a priority in our church. We give fifteen percent of our general offering each month to missions, eight percent of which is designated to the CP. Recently I was challenged by another pastor to consider raising our percentage from 8% to 10%. I believe this is a good challenge for us. Therefore we are prayerfully considering doing so in the future. God is certainly at work all over the world and CP is an excellent way to be a part of His Kingdom plan. I would wholeheartedly encourage every pastor and church to make CP “first” priority in your stewardship budget.

Daniel Lambert, Kalispell

East Haven Baptist Church, 22 years


Although our church is deeply committed to and involved in international missions, by sending teams to the Czech Republic, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mexico, Canada, India and hopefully even Israel this year; it is impossible for us to have any hope of literally fulfilling the Great Commission alone. Thankfully, we don’t have to.


As a Southern Baptist church, through the Cooperative Program we are able to become a partner in boldly getting the gospel message to people around the world. In this small way, every time one of our missionaries has a part in someone coming to repentance and placing faith in Jesus Christ, we helped make that happen. This partnership together for the cause of Christ amplifies a deeper sense of Christ’s commission ‘that all may know.’

Bill Sikes, Forsyth

First Baptist Church, 6 years


In the first chapter of his letter to the church at Philipi, the apostle Paul told them how grateful he was for "...their fellowship in the gospel...(5), how he considered them to be "...partakers with him of grace..." (6), and how he desired that they "...stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel..."(27). These words convey "cooperation" as it applies to our responsibility and privilege to make the gospel of grace known to the world. For me they are the spirit of the Cooperative Program and why First Baptist Forsyth supports it.

Paul Jones, Billings

Emmanuel Baptist Church, 26 years


As a church Emmanuel remains committed to Southern Baptist missionaries and that means we are committed to the Cooperative Program. We love the fact that through CP we are giving to causes in Montana and North America and the whole world. For me personally, having served as an IMB missionary, I've seen the effectiveness of the CP first hand. Honestly, I'm a walking, taking, living, breathing cooperative program commercial!

Brad Saab, Missoula

Meadowview Church, 2 years


As a church, we are committed to loving what God loves and giving our lives to the very things for which Jesus Christ gave His life. Consequently, we are steadfast in our resolve to make disciples, equip the saints for the work of ministry, and be fishers of men. These biblical values, paired with the conviction that we are better together than we are apart, drives our desire to partner with other likeminded churches through the Cooperative Program. We have discovered that the resources we commit to the Cooperative Program permits missionaries and church planters to receive the necessary training and funding to specialize in becoming Jesus Christ's witnesses in their local context and to the ends of the earth. For this reason, we are cheerful givers and participants in the Ministry of the Gospel through the organized efforts of the Cooperative Program.

Mike Kauffold, Wolf Point

First Baptist Church, 18 years


When I came to First Baptist about 18 years ago we were at about 5% co-op giving. For the last 15 years we have been at 12%. I know that’s not much but when you have a church of less than 50 people 12% can seem like a lot to some. But it has never been a problem to us at FBC. It’s just part of who we are. Missions gets its cut before I get mine. There have been times when our church couldn’t afford to pay me. But we never held back our missions giving. That has never bothered me.


The bottom line is simple to me. It is a fact we cannot all go to the mission field. It’s also true that many could not or would not go if the support to do so wasn’t available. By design and with purpose we support the work of others to do what we are not doing as a partner to fulfill the Great Commission. Really it’s the easiest missions’ work there is. We supply funding and they do the work. It doesn’t get any easier than that does it? It is one of the easiest ways to become a blessing.

Bobby King, Great Falls

Crossroads Memorial Church, 10 years


In 1982 I was able to take a mission trip to Brazil. We worked in a community that once had an Independent Baptist Seminary with a total of five missionary families living and working in the area. There was only one family left but they joined in to help us reach out to the community in our evangelical efforts. They shared how God had blessed their efforts of reaching the community and building the seminary but when they returned to the states to raise financial support, they were not allowed to return. So the seminary closed and the work stopped. The one remaining missionary family lost their vehicle and most of their belongings when they returned home to raise financial support.


I saw firsthand how important it is to have missionaries in the field that do not have to return home to raise their support.


The Cooperative Program provides for our SBC missionaries their salaries, housing, a vehicle and materials needed to do ministry in the mission field without the burden of returning home to raise support. When our missionaries return on furlough or retire, there are others that are able to take their place and continue the work. The way I see it, the Cooperative Program assist us in being good stewards of the resources the Lord blesses us with.

KJ Ellington, Jordan

Jordan Community Bible Church, 9 years


When you live in a small, isolated town like Jordan, Montana, it is easy to feel unimportant and disconnected. The Cooperative Program is our vital connection that helps prevent those feelings and provides opportunity for us to be outward focused. It allows us, as a small and isolated church to be a part of global mission work at a level we could not sustain alone. The Cooperative Program allows us a way to be connected and make a difference in Christ's Kingdom work around the world.


Download the Cooperative Program Giving Record for 2014

Download the 2014 CP Giving Report

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MTSBC

Church Planter Retreat Recap

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention

Church Starting Team Leader William Johnson addresses church planters at the 2015 Church Planters Conference. Behind Johnson is a "Family Tree" showing all church plants in Montana throughout the decades.

FAIRMONT HOT SPRINGS, MT - There is no denying that the life of a church planter is sometimes difficult. The early days of a church often come with many demands, tenuous funding, and a sense of isolation. These are some of the struggles from which the 2015 Church Planter Retreat sought to provide a respite, giving church planters and their families an opportunity to fall back, recharge and prepare to return to battle.


Over sixty church planters from all over the state gathered at Fairmont Hot Springs to relax in the comforts of the hot springs, fellowship over an abundance of well-prepared meals and enjoy a reprieve from the intensity of church planting. [READ MORE]

CLICK TO ENLARGE The Conference was held at Fairmont Hot Springs just outside of Anaconda, MT

CLICK TO ENLARGE Dr. Bill Agee leads a seminar on budgeting while planters watch on the screen

CLICK TO ENLARGE Church planters gather to fellowship, share stories and encourage one another

CLICK TO ENLARGE Church planters were provided with many resources during the conference, including Dr. Bill Agee's book "Church Planting: This is Not a Manual"

CLICK TO ENLARGE Michael Liner addresses attendees during one of the sessions

CLICK TO ENLARGE The retreat also featured various pastors in different stages of church planting development

CLICK TO ENLARGE Planters fellowship over an abundance of well-prepared meals at Fairmont

CLICK TO ENLARGE Church planting pastor Michael Tyson led worship on Thursday night

CLICK TO ENLARGE Steve Fowler explains another one of the resources handed out to church planters at the conference

"What I appreciate about our leadership in Montana is that they tend to bring people before us that have kind of been there, they're not just painting a pie in the sky kind of a deal, they pretty well understand what we face here," said church planter Alan Damron of New Day Fellowship. "You can tell they are not just talking about something they have never done".


Throughout the weekend, a variety of worship experiences were offered, each led by a different church, featuring leaders from Bedrock Baptist Church in Bozeman, Crossroads Church in Bozeman and Outdoorsman Church in Missoula.


The two day conference included five sessions featuring instruction from experienced church planter Dr. Bill Agee, the founder of “Woodstock Church Planting School”, and associate Jeremy Westbrook. The sessions centered on the impact partnership can have on a church plant and the importance of planning prior to beginning the process.


Many attendees went home with a fresh perspective on the planning involved, including church planter Michael Tyson from Bedrock Baptist Church.


"What I'm taking away is everything - just to have a real plan, to follow that plan, to be willing to adjust that plan as reality happens," said Tyson.


Andrew Goodrich of Outdoorsmen Church was encouraged by hearing from church planters who have experienced growth and success without falling into crippling debt.


"Hearing [Jeremy Westbrook's] story of his church plant that was completely debt-free was huge, because I just hate the feeling that we have to borrow money from people to church plant when God owns the cattle on a thousand hills," says Goodrich. "It's great to hear true life stories of people who actually put their complete faith in God, and that it's possible".


The retreat also featured a panel of pastors in various stages of church planting: along with Jeremy Westbrook, Dave Carroll began Elevation Church twenty months ago, and Michael Tyson started Bedrock Baptist Church only a week ago. This panel gave the opportunity for helpful input from those in various stages of the journey of starting a church.


New additions to the conference this year were the “Men’s Track” and “Women’s Track” offered on Friday afternoon. Dr. Bill Agee led the men in a pragmatic, by-the-numbers look at a church planting budget, featuring a budgeting spreadsheet tool that was provided to all attendees.


Church Planting Catalyst Eddie Smith reflected on the practical nature of the budgeting sessions. "Every year they're getting more practical. This year with Bill Agee and Jeremy, they are talking about how to count the costs... before you take that first step, know that God would have you do it. It's just all very practical. Know how much it's going cost before you leave your hometown. Look into how much work it's going to take to reach the different stages you think you can reach."


During the same time, Ann Iorg encouraged the women in various aspects of the church planting journey, including practicing hospitality, finding God’s will, supporting their husbands, and finding time to refresh along the way. Each church planter’s wife in attendance received a bundle of gifts as a special indulgence - a bit of spoiling not often experienced in the early days of church planting.


Cary Bell of Outdoor Life Ministries found Ann Iorg's session both informative and uplifting. "I just got out of the women's track and I really enjoyed it. What I got most of it was how to be supportive of my husband, and just knowing that God is giving him the vision and how to support him doing that."


Heather Hunt will most remember "being reassured [and] knowing that God has given me a specific call to planting in Missoula, Montana. God is doing a work in me and its far greater than anything I could have imagined. It's been awesome."


Throughout the retreat, comments were often overheard about the recharging experience and the blessing of fellowship. Ken Bell, who has now attended the Church Planter Retreat two times, said, "Getting out and doing the pool and having the kids here and the family all with us has always been fun. It's not only a time to learn but to relax a little bit."


"It takes a lot of the pressure off," said Kevin Kaiserman of The Rock Church. "The accommodations are very, very nice and the food is very, very good. It puts everybody together in a situation where we can have fun and fellowship and learn all in one place together."


Many families topped off the experience by spending Saturday morning on the waterslide with the children, relaxing with a friend in the hot tub or sleeping in before returning refreshed to the fields where they will continue to serve.


The weekend was deemed a success across the board, and was a blessing to everyone who attended. For those unable to come, or those wanting to review the experience, all sessions are available for viewing at montana.e-quip.net.


More Photos from the 2015 Church Planter Conference


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Stevenson family portrait, MTSBC Church Planters.

Church Planter Profile: Stevensons

Montana Southern Baptist Convention


Sean and Lydia have lived in Bozeman for nearly four years moving here in March of 2011. They moved here to start Crossroads Church on the west side of Bozeman in an area known as Four Corners.


Sean and Lydia have been married for 24 years. Sean has western roots being born and raised in New Mexico. Lydia is originally from Arkansas. The Stevensons have three daughters - Abby, Cara, and Rebecca. Sean earned his undergraduate degree from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He also graduated with a Masters degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Lydia is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR. [READ MORE]


During seminary, Sean and Lydia were involved in three church planting efforts. After graduating from Southwestern, Sean and Lydia were commissioned by the North American Mission Board, in the Church Planter Apprentice program. During the following four years, they saw a new, growing church birthed in Ohio. This church has served its community and has seen many people come to faith in Christ.


In 2002, Sean and Lydia were commissioned as missionaries by the International Mission Board and served for eight years as missionaries in the country of Poland. As a Team Strategy Leader, Sean supervised a large IMB missionary team involved in evangelism, group formation, leadership training and church planting. Upon returning to the states, the Stevensons moved to Bozeman.


After one year of groundwork, preparation, and leadership training, Crossroads Church launched on Easter 2012. Crossroads is a vibrant, growing new church made up of people investigating the claims of Christ, new believers, and Christians who are growing in their faith and service to Christ. Planter/Pastor Sean states, “Our goal as a church is to make disciples that make disciple that make disciples. Introducing people to the claims of Christ, true, biblical discipleship and missions are the heartbeat of what we do at Crossroads Church.”


Crossroads has recently branched out as a body by emphasizing active missions, specifically, church starting. Even though they are a new church start, they recently began a partnership with a church in Calgary, Canada to start a new church in southeast Calgary. Crossroads has already sent their first mission team to help this new plant during their pre-launch period. Sean says it has been awesome to do for another church what so many churches have already done for them. In addition to our partnership with Calgary, Canada, Crossroads also gives to the Lottie Moon Offering, Annie Armstrong Offering, and the Montana Missions Offering. Sean and Lydia and Crossroads Church are looking to the future for further church planting opportunities while waiting on the leadership of the Lord.


You can learn more about the Stevensons and Crossroads Church at www.crossroadschurchbozeman.org


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There is no better time than the first of the year to challenge yourself and your church with making some changes. It's a perfect time because everyone's thinking about changes they want to make in the New Year.


I always challenge our leadership team to write down 3 goals in 3 key areas: their personal goals, their professional goals, and their spiritual goals. We get together each year and compare how we did the year before and what our new goals are. Remember people do what's inspected more than what's expected. [READ MORE]

It is also a great time to challenge your church to make 2015 a year when they personally make a difference in the life of one unchurched person. Creating a culture of evangelism begins with the pastor teaching your church that everyone should be a witness. We have a great opportunity at Impact this year to learn how to create a culture of evangelism in our church through the teaching ministry of Dennis Nunn. Please set aside time and bring as many people as you can to this year’s Impact seminar.


Here are some ideas you can use in the New Year:


  • Kick off the New Year with a message to reach your community.
  • Create an "invite" culture within your church by empowering each member.
  • Reach couples in February with a movie event and study.
  • Re-design your bulletin with connect cards for follow-up.
  • Start the New Year with a new church campaign/sermon series.
  • Give guests the opportunity to join a small group community with fresh/new curriculum and focus.
  • Host a "date night" or "mom's night out” by offering childcare/movie night for the kids.
  • Launch into the New Year with a new website or redesigned website. (If you want to reach young couples, your website is the first thing they will look at when considering coming to your church.)
  • All leaders are readers, so here is a great leadership book that you should read. It is entitled, "The Secret" by Ken Blanchard.

  • It is my prayer that 2015 will be the best year of your life personally and the best year of growth for your church.


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    Request or Become a Student Missionary

    The Montana Souther Baptist Convention

    Download the Student Missionary Brochure

    A student missionary is a high school-age or college-age student who serves for a minimum of 8 weeks to assist local churches as they seek to accomplish the Great Commission through evangelism and church planting. These young men and women serve on the front lines of missions, participating in experiences designed to help students develop for a lifetime of missionary service.


    Contact Stan Bricker for more information: sbricker@mtsbc.org or (406) 252-7537.


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    Atlanta Fire Chief Fired Over Pro-Family Book

    David Roach, Baptist Press

    ATLANTA (BP) -- Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has been terminated following a city investigation into a book he wrote that calls homosexual behavior immoral. But Cochran said the investigation, which has not been released to the public, produced no evidence of wrongdoing.


    Allegations of discrimination against homosexuals were "completely unfounded," Cochran said Jan. 6. "The investigation shows that there is no evidence. Under no circumstances have I been discriminatory or hateful towards any member of the department in the LGBT community or a member of the LGBT community at large."


    Cochran is a deacon, Sunday School teacher and Bible study leader at Atlanta's Elizabeth Baptist Church, a cooperating church with the Georgia Baptist Convention. A two-time Atlanta fire chief, Cochran also served as U.S. Fire Administrator under President Obama from 2009-10. [READ MORE]

    Cochran's 162-page self-published book, "Who Told You That You Are Naked?" seeks to help Christian men overcome feelings of guilt and condemnation over past sins. It discusses homosexuality for less than half a page, including a mention of uncleanness as the "opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, and all other forms of sexual perversion."


    Cochran told Fox News that someone within the fire department obtained a copy of the book and gave it to openly-gay city council member Alex Wan. LGBT activists responded to the book by calling for Cochran to be fired.


    Mayor Kasim Reed said Jan. 6 that Cochran's failure to obtain proper city permission to publish the book and his refusal to remain silent about the matter during the city's investigation contributed to the firing.


    In November Cochran was suspended without pay for a month and ordered to undergo sensitivity training.


    Though Cochran spoke to religious groups about his suspension, he said he obeyed the city's specific instruction not to speak with the media, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


    "Despite my respect for Chief Cochran's service, I believe his actions and decision-making undermine his ability to manage our fire department," Reed said at a press conference. "Every single employee under the fire chief's command deserves the certainty that he or she is a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment decisions. His actions around the book and his statements during this investigation have eroded my confidence in his ability to convey that message."


    A "decision to retain Chief Cochran" could have caused the city to be held liable in potential antidiscrimination lawsuits, Reed said -- presumably a reference to potential lawsuits by homosexual employees alleging discrimination.


    The mayor said he has received numerous phone calls and emails from Atlanta residents who support Cochran. Reed responded to claims that Cochran's religious liberty has been violated by saying his "personal religious beliefs are not the issue at all."


    "The city and my administration stand firmly in support of the right to religious freedom, freedom of speech and the right to freely observe one's faith," Reed said, adding that he, like Cochran, is "a person of very deep religious faith."


    Critics who believe in obeying the Bible should recognize that Cochran violated the command of 1 Corinthians 14:40 to do all things "decently and in order" surrounding the book and ensuing investigation, Reed said.


    Cochran said the city's investigation centered on four issues. The issues were, according to Cochran:


    -- "Did I have permission to write the book?"


    The city's ethics officer, Nina Hickson, "unequivocally told me it was appropriate and gave me permission legally that I could do it and use my name in the book as long as the book was not about government or the fire department," Cochran said.


    Reed received a copy of the book in January 2014 and said he planned to read it on an upcoming trip, Cochran told Fox News.


    -- "Have I discriminated against any member of the LGBT community or an LGBT member of Atlanta Fire and Rescue?"


    There was no evidence of discrimination among members of the fire department or in the community at large, Cochran said.


    "The greatest of my Christian values is a love without condition for all humankind," Cochran said. "In the fire service, I have had the privilege to live out this virtue every day for past 34 years to the extent that I would lay down my life for anyone in the communities in which I have served."


    -- "Did I inappropriately distribute the book in the workplace?"


    Three people interviewed by city investigators received a copy of the book without requesting it, Cochran said. But "I had distributed the book only to members of the department with whom I had already established a personal relationship as Christians."


    -- "Was it appropriate for me to ... suggest that my responsibility [as fire chief] was to cultivate a culture that glorified God?"


    The oath of office Cochran took ended with "so help me God," he said. "If it was a violation [of policy] to glorify God and cultivate a culture, I should have been fired at the very end of my oath."


    Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Convention, told Baptist Press Cochran's firing is "a religious liberty issue."


    "It comes down to his belief," Griffin said. "Would we have this discussion if he had written a book on hunting or fishing? I don't think so."


    Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, told Fox News he believes Cochran was fired because Reed succumbed to pressure from Atlanta's LGBT community.


    "It's a frightening day in the United States when a person cannot express their faith without fears of persecution following," White said. "It's persecution when a godly fire chief loses his job over expressing his Christian faith."


    Atlanta's LGBT citizens, Cochran told Fox, "have a right to be able to express their views and convictions about sexuality and deserve to be respected for their position without hate or discrimination. But Christians also have a right to express our belief regarding our faith and be respected for our position without hate and without discrimination. In the United States, no one should be vilified, hated or discriminated against for expressing their beliefs."


    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorialized that Cochran was rightly fired for his "poor judgment."


    "When you have more than 1,000 people working under your command, you can't go around publicly suggesting that some of them are perverts on a par with those who indulge in bestiality or child sexual abuse," the AJC's Jay Bookman wrote. If Cochran "were an adherent of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, and if he distributed Black Muslim pamphlets to the men and women who work for him, would the Georgia Baptist Convention defend that action under the banner of religious liberty? No, they would not. They would instead argue that such behavior was unprofessional and grounds for termination. And they would be right."


    Griffin said Bookman is wrong and that the Georgia convention would defend any American's right to exercise religious liberty in the workplace.


    "The Georgia Baptist Convention stands, as have all Baptists through history, for being champions of religious liberty," Griffin said.


    Following Cochran's suspension, the Georgia convention issued a news release calling Christians and other people of faith across Georgia to: sign a petition in behalf of Cochran at http://gabaptist.org/petition on the Georgia Baptist Convention's website; support Cochran by purchasing his book on Amazon; and enlist as many churches and believers as possible to contact Mayor Reed to reverse his actions against Cochran.


    Cochran addressed the GBC's Executive Committee Dec. 9 following his suspension.


    "I'm just standing still to see the salvation of our God because He will show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are fully His," Cochran told Georgia EC members. "And my heart is fully His."


    Cochran said he will not try to get his job back as fire chief but he is considering other legal options.


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