SBC DIGEST: Texas church honors retiring pastor with missions gift; Chaplain receives hero’s welcome at NOBTS

Texas church donates to IMB in honor of pastor’s retirement

By Myriah Snyder/IMB

BIG SPRING, Texas (BP) – As John McCullough ended 52 years in ministry, the last 15 as bivocational pastor of Berea Baptist Church, the church donated $30,000 to the IMB and $27,000 to Send Relief in his honor.

John McCullough

Berea Baptist has always been passionate about missions, giving more than 15 percent of its undesignated receipts to missions work locally, statewide, nationally and globally. But when the church of around 25 members realized it had too much space for the mostly aging congregation, and a local church needed the facilities, the members chose to sell and rent space at Crossroads Baptist Association’s offices to continue meeting.

Instead of putting all the profits into savings, they donated a substantial portion of those funds to various ministry and mission work in honor of their retiring pastor, who is a trustee of the International Mission Board.

McCullough, who also served as the associational missionary for Crossroads Baptist Association, retired as Berea’s pastor in April. While he’d moved 380 miles across the state, he had been making the drive weekly to continue serving the congregation. Sunday, Sept. 26, was his day as pastor.

During McCullough’s time as an IMB trustee, he’s been especially passionate about the work God is doing in Southeast Asia, his area of focus as a trustee. He’s been on trips to the region and seen his daughter, son-in-law and grandson accompany him and catch the same vision.

“We wanted to do what we could do there, knowing that there’s an incredible move of God in [that part] of the world,” McCullough said. “We wanted to make that an emphasis.”

Berea’s donation to IMB will go toward ongoing mission projects in Southeast Asia. The Send Relief donation will go to water well projects and other humanitarian aid work.

IMB President Paul Chitwood said he “had no idea of the significance” of the gift when McCullough mentioned to him that Berea was giving a check.

“Not only in terms of its amount,” Chitwood said, “but also in what it symbolized of a church family that wanted to honor its retiring pastor and steward its remaining resources well for the kingdom.

“When I heard the story, I was not only blessed by it, but I wanted others to hear it. I thank God for this incredibly generous act and know it will inspire others toward greater generosity.”

Read the full story here.


NOBTS professor, military chaplain returns after year of deployment

By Gary D. Myers/NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – After a full year away from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the desert sands of Iraq, Adam Harwood returned to a hero’s welcome Oct. 8.

Hundreds of seminary students, faculty and staff members lined Seminary Place on the NOBTS-Leavell College campus to welcome Harwood home from a yearlong deployment as a chaplain with the Louisiana National Guard. Members of Harwood’s church, First Baptist New Orleans, joined the flag-waving crowd to mark his return. The welcome began at the front of campus, and after the Harwoods stopped to greet the well-wishers, the crowd followed the family to their home on Seminary Place in true New Orleans “second line” style.

“We entered the campus, and as we turned the corner at the Frost Building, the street was lined with NOBTS and Leavell College faculty, staff, students and families, as well as friends from my church family, FBNO,” Harwood said. “The welcome home parade demonstrated the generosity, love and support of the body of Christ.”

By day, Harwood is professor of theology at NOBTS and editor of the school’s Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry. He is known around campus for his keen mind and pastoral heart. On the weekends and in times of crisis, Captain Harwood ministers to the spiritual needs of the men and women serving in the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Last October, Harwood’s brigade left for three months of training in preparation for a nine-month tour of duty to Forward Operating Base Union III in Baghdad, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Their mission was part of the multi-nation effort to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS).

As a chaplain, Harwood offered pastoral and religious support to U.S and Coalition soldiers and the many civilian contractors working on the base. He also “advised the command on moral, ethical and religious matters impacting the mission.” According to Harwood, he ministered to people of many different faith backgrounds.

“Chaplains are different than pastors, because we provide religious support to all people – including those from different faith traditions – without violating our own religious convictions or the constraints of our ecclesial endorser,” Harwood said. “In my case, that is the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Harwood led weekly chapel services, Bible studies, and special worship events. One of the more memorable worship times for Harwood came on Christmas Eve.

“We were away from home during the holidays, so on Christmas Eve night, more than 100 soldiers gathered in a tent,” he said. “We sang Christmas carols by candlelight, then I read the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke and explained why Jesus came to earth.”

Easter was special too. Harwood said many attended worship on Easter Sunday. This allowed Harwood to present a “clear message of God’s forgiveness available through Christ’s life, death and resurrection.”

Harwood also provided confidential counseling to the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines on the base.

“We were in a combat zone, which raised unique struggles,” Harwood said. “I provided a listening ear, counseling, and prayer for issues like relationship problems or questions about God.”

Read the full story here.

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