Controversial student group at Samford one step closer to approval


BIRMINGHAM (TAB) — Another step has been taken in the process of approving a new student group at Samford University in Birmingham promoting discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The group, Samford Together (ST), was given provisional recognition in the spring semester 2016 and approved by the student senate in the fall of 2016. A divided faculty senate narrowly approved ST earlier this year and a majority of the full faculty voted for approval this morning.

Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said it would likely be September before ST is presented to the board of trustees for consideration, which would be the final step in approval.

To read the full story, click here.

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Keeping children safe in digital world topic of March seminars in Birmingham


Read more about MySecureFamily taking place at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Vestavia Hills, for the next three Sunday nights under the Events Promotion category at or click here:

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FBC Orange Beach suffers second devastating loss

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62-year-old Pastor John Price died unexpectedly Feb. 24.

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IMB’s Platt apologizes to Southern Baptists

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David Platt, IMB president, speaks with Will Hall, editor of Louisiana’s Baptist Message, after giving a report to Baptist editors in Ontario, California, Feb. 15. (BP photo)

David Platt, IMB president, speaks with Will Hall, editor of Louisiana’s Baptist Message, after giving a report to Baptist editors in Ontario, California, Feb. 15. (BP photo)

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AG Strange appointed to Sessions’ former senate seat

Attorney General Luther Strange RGB

Attorney General Luther Strange

MONTGOMERY (Jennifer Davis Rash) — Alabama’s Jeff Sessions will be sworn in as U.S. Attorney General this morning (Feb. 9) and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange will step right into the Sessions’ vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced his appointment of Strange to the seat last night (Feb. 8) and publicly presented him this morning at 9:10 a.m. Bentley and Strange are headed to Washington this morning so Strange can be sworn in today.

For the full story, visit

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FBC Orange Beach damaged by fire; pastor sees ‘opportunity for new day’


Photo courtesy of Chris Fowler

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (Grace Thornton) — Pastor John Price said he doesn’t know yet how the fire started in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Orange Beach. And he doesn’t know why.

But he does know he’s grateful for the provision of God through the buildings the church still has and the gracious response of the Alabama Baptist community.

“We appreciate folks’ prayers,” he said. “Been so blessed to have all of our sister churches here call and offer their prayers and offer to help, and we’ve been grateful for the community of Baptists around the state rallying to support us.”

The fire, which started a little after 5 a.m. on Jan. 31, quickly engulfed the church’s worship center in flames, according to Jimmy Nichols, deacon chairman.

The exact cause is still unknown, but officials have told church leaders they believe it was not begun by criminal activity.

“By the time the fire department was on the scene, flames were shooting from the roof,” he said. “The structure is still standing, but about half of the building inside has been damaged by fire.”

The church lost musical instruments and hymnals, and the adult and children’s Sunday School space suffered smoke and water damage. Insurance adjusters don’t yet know the extent of the damage to the other end of the building, which housed educational space and the church offices, Price said. “We are in a wait-and-see kind of mode with that.”


Photo courtesy of Chris Fowler

But the church is already switching gears to ready for services in its old worship center, a building that’s been housing youth group gatherings and other activities since the new sanctuary was built in the mid 1990s.

“Our immediate plan is to just roll right into the buildings we already have,” Price said. “We’re blessed to have our old church worship center and facilities still standing and ready to go. Between that and our insurance coverage, we know we have what we need to recover fully.”

Not only that — he said he also believes this will be a time of “renewal and reinvigoration” for the church.

The members of the congregation will each process what happened differently, he said, but as a whole, “we are sad about the building but at the same time realizing that God’s going to work through this. There will be positive to come out of the negative. It’s an opportunity for a new day at First Baptist Church of Orange Beach.” (Debbie Campbell contributed)

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Hayden residents vote ‘wet’ for 2017

margaritaBIRMINGHAM (Neisha Roberts) — The last time Hayden residents voted on the legalization of alcohol sales they voted to remain “dry” in 2015 with only five votes. But on Jan. 24, voters determined the city would become a “wet” city in 2017 with 153 votes in favor and 121 votes opposed.

The referendum will not go into effect for 60 days but will make Hayden the fourth city in the “dry” Blount County to become “wet” as it legalizes alcohol sales.

Look for a full story in the upcoming print edition of The Alabama Baptist.

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Alabama Baptists at the ready to help fellow states following deadly weekend storm system


Screen capture from FOX News

ADEL, Ga. (BP) — Southern Baptists throughout the Southeast have started responding to a deadly storm system that reportedly claimed the lives of at least 19 people from Georgia to Mississippi over a two-day period this past weekend.

Severe weather, which lasted through Sunday night in the region, extended into South Carolina and north Florida. According to the Associated Press, 39 possible tornadoes were reported in the Southeast.

Alabama wasn’t impacted as much as Georgia or Mississippi by the storms, according to Mark Wakefield, disaster relief and chaplaincy ministries strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, but there still are pockets of damage throughout the state. Wakefield said he has heard a report of a retired director of missions in the state whose home was destroyed by the storms.

Disaster relief teams from Elmore and Tuskegee Lee Baptist associations began serving this weekend in local impacted areas. Wakefield says Alabama Baptist volunteers are standing by and prepared to help if needed by other state Baptist conventions in the region.

In Georgia at least seven people died in the small town of Adel and more lost their lives when a twister hit near Albany. Georgia Baptist Mission Board disaster relief leader Stuart Lang says chaplains are heading into the impacted regions of the state today (Jan. 23) as Georgia Baptists begin the process of assessing needs.

“There’s really not much we can do now because counties are still in search-and-rescue mode,” Lang said. “They’re still trying to catch their breath and figure out what happened yesterday.”

Lang says the first unit will likely not arrive in the area until Tuesday at the earliest. He expects that first unit will probably serve in Albany. It will be several days before the volunteers will be able to serve in Adel, one of the hardest-hit locations in the state, because they must wait for approval by the county government. Currently, there is a curfew in the town.

Lang noted chaplaincy will play a large role in Georgia Baptist’s response to the disaster. At least 14 of those who were killed throughout the region were in the state.

Mississippi Southern Baptists have set up a base of operations at Petal Baptist Church in Petal, Miss., outside of Hattiesburg. Forty volunteers are on the ground already providing hope and healing for the region. Mississippi feeding teams are supporting Red Cross efforts and serving through Petal Baptist for a total of 2,500 to 3,000 meals per day.

Don Gann, who directs disaster relief efforts for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, expects Mississippi Baptists to provide meals throughout the week. A team of Louisiana Baptists is also on the way to an impacted region of the state.

Gann noted that William Carey University, a Mississippi Baptist school in Hattiesburg, was hit hard by the storm. Nearly all of its 30 buildings were reported to be damaged. He said that disaster relief teams were available to help the college if needed as well.

To donate to Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, visit

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Samford’s Ministry Training Institute offers digital, social media course

Facebook, Twitter, website, blog—you’ve got them all covered, so your digital strategy is well in hand, right?

a18fc01d45dce068a5d47fb44e2f36bfMaybe and maybe not.

Are you getting consistent new visitors to your homepage? Are your social media profiles consistent in voice and appearance? Are you effectively using graphics to draw attention to your posts and events?

With so many digital options available, it can be challenging to get your message heard through all the online noise. However, a unified digital strategy is one of the most important tools you have to reach your audience, and the options are changing every day.

The Digital and Social Media course in the Online Communication Certificate program of Samford’s Ministry Training Institute (MTI) is designed especially for ministry professionals who want to gain valuable skills in the latest media tools. Pastors, staff members, lay leaders, authors, aspiring writers and speakers—all have a message. The Digital and Social Media course provides practical tips and strategies to help them develop a platform to share it.

The 8-week course will explore social media tools, graphic design apps and other digital platforms from two important perspectives — the content creator and the target audience. Lessons will explore personality types, generational differences and learning preferences and how these characteristics affect communication. Learners will leave the course with new skills and a social media action plan ready to implement immediately.

There are many courses online that explain social media and other digital tools, so why choose an Online Certificate Course with Samford MTI? The difference is personalized instruction. The Digital and Social Media course, like all the courses in the Online Communication Certificate sequence, is led by an instructor who is always available to answer questions and provide feedback on assignments. Small class sizes ensure engagement between students and the instructor throughout the course, which means a more productive learning experience.

Backed by the reputation of Samford University and MTI, those who finish the class will have valuable skills to apply in all areas of their online lives. Registration is open now at Classes begin on Jan. 24. Register today and take the first step toward a more effective online ministry strategy.

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President Obama designates historic Alabama civil rights sites


Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham

WASHINGTON (RNS) — In one of his last official acts, President Barack Obama has designated Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, and other civil rights landmarks as the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

The designation protects the historic A.G. Gaston Motel in that city, where Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders had their 1963 campaign headquarters, as well as Kelly Ingram Park, where police turned hoses and dogs on civil rights protesters.

Sixteenth Street Baptist is where four girls died in 1963 after Ku Klux Klan members detonated more than a dozen sticks of dynamite outside the church basement.

“This national monument will fortify Birmingham’s place in American history and will speak volumes to the place of African-Americans in history,” said Arthur Price Jr., pastor of the church, in a statement.

Obama’s proclamation also cites the role of Bethel Baptist Church, headquarters of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, and St. Paul United Methodist Church, from which protesters marched before being stopped by police dogs.

In his proclamation Jan. 12, Obama said the various sites “all stand as a testament to the heroism of those who worked so hard to advance the cause of freedom.”

In other acts, all timed to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which will be observed Jan. 16, the president designated the Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston and the Reconstruction Era National Monument in coastal South Carolina.

He cited the role of congregations in all three areas — from sheltering civil rights activists at Bethel Baptist to hosting mass meetings at First Baptist Church, Montgomery, to providing a school for former slaves at the Brick Baptist Church, St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

The designations instruct the National Park Service to manage the sites and consider them for visitor services and historic preservation.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said, “African-American history is American history and these monuments are testament to the people and places on the front-lines of our entire nation’s march toward a more perfect union.”

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