SBC DIGEST: SWBTS professor recognized in U.S. House; New ERLC Bible curriculum 'The Church and the Racial Divide'

by Alex Sibley and Tom Strode, posted Wednesday, January 15, 2020 (8 months ago)

SWBTS professor recognized in U.S. House for 33-year pastorate

By Alex Sibley

WASHINGTON (BP) -- Chris Osborne, who began serving as professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary earlier this month, was recognized in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 10 for his 33 years of service as pastor of Central Baptist Church in Bryan-College Station, Texas.

Congressman Bill Flores of the 17th District of Texas recognized Osborne before other members of Congress as "a pillar of the Bryan-College Station community."

"For the past 33 years, Pastor Chris and his wife Peggy have been a source of light, encouragement, and joy for the entire Central Baptist Church community," Flores said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores recognized pastor and new Southwestern Seminary professor Chris Osborne for 33 years of pastoral service at Central Baptist Church in Bryan-College Station, Texas, where Flores is a member.
 
Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary, said he is "grateful to Rep. Flores for recognizing before his colleagues in Congress the life-changing ministry of Chris Osborne at Central Baptist Church. As a member of the congregation, Rep. Flores speaks with direct knowledge of Dr. Osborne's influence for Christ. I'm so grateful that Dr. Osborne is now instilling in our students his many years of faithful service to the Lord, modeling faithful pastoral ministry."

Osborne, who earned both his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from Southwestern Seminary (in 1977 and 2019, respectively), began pastoring Central Baptist Church in 1986 and will officially conclude his service there on Jan. 26. He began serving on the faculty of Southwestern Seminary on Jan. 1, having been appointed last summer.

Central Baptist Church, Flores shared, was founded in 1925 as "a mission-minded ministry dedicated to sharing a passion for God's Word."

"Today," Flores continued, "Central Baptist Church has become an integral part of the Bryan-College Station community, where a strong sense of discipleship has led to the creation of many outreach programs, children's ministry events, and college ministry groups.

"Even as the church has grown, Central Baptist Church remains committed to the original mission-minded goals, and through the efforts of the congregation, thousands of people have found the joy, peace, and contentment that spring from a fulfilling and personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

Under Osborne's leadership, Flores said, the church has seen significant change and growth, as evidenced, for example, by the church's relocation to its current 3,500-seat worship center. In addition, Osborne's "commitment to outreach and involvement" in the Bryan-College Station community made him a great encouragement to his church members, Flores said.

"Pastor Chris' dedication to service has not gone unnoticed, and hundreds of members of his congregation have experienced life-change from his encouraging and supportive approach," Flores said.

A member of Central Baptist Church himself, Flores added that he and his wife Gina "have both grown in Christ because of the impact of the church under the leadership and friendship of Chris and Peggy."

"Mr. Speaker," Flores concluded, "I would like to recognize and thank both Chris and Peggy for their down-to-earth and positive leadership of this congregation, and for their impact in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. I have requested that the United States flag be flown over our nation's Capitol to honor the lives and legacies of Chris and Peggy Osborne."

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New ERLC study applies Gospel to racial divide

By Tom Strode

RSS feed: A new Bible study from the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission seeks to help churches address divisions along lines of ethnicity and skin color with the Gospel of Jesus.

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Churches looking to address ethnic divisions in their congregations and communities have a new resource at their disposal.

A Bible study curriculum from the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission called "The Church and the Racial Divide: Finding Unity in the Race-Transcending Gospel" was released Jan. 2 by LifeWay Christian Resources.

The ERLC's stated goal for the six-session, multi-media study is to help Christians apply the Gospel to the issue of racial division.

"The Bible tells us that God is creating, in Christ, one new man," said Daniel Darling, the ERLC's vice president for communications. "If the Gospel brings people together from every nation, tribe and tongue, then the church should be the outpost of this kingdom.

Trillia Newbell, the ERLC's director of community outreach, told BP the study is in many ways "a primer with the hope that it will inspire further study of God's Word."

Darling and Newbell, both authors of multiple books, are general editors of the study.

Trevor Atwood -- lead pastor of City Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn. – is the author. Atwood is a former chairman of the ERLC's board of trustees.

Speaking on the videos are Atwood, Darling and Newbell, as well as ERLC President Russell Moore; Juan Sanchez, senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; and Walter Strickland, associate vice president for diversity and assistant professor of systematic and contextual theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The study addresses a problem that has long plagued many American churches, including those of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC began in 1845 in a split produced by its support of slaveholding missionaries, and churches in the convention largely opposed the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.

In 1995, messengers to the annual SBC meeting approved a statement expressing repentance for the convention's past racism and asking African Americans for forgiveness. Southern Baptists have experienced strong ethnic growth in recent years, but many churches show little diversity despite being in diverse communities.

Each session of the curriculum includes three days of Bible study. Every group session includes not only viewing a video but discussing its content and related biblical texts. Each session also consists of recommended applications and steps of action based on the teaching.

Alex Sibley is associate director of news and information at SWBTS. Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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