ATLANTA — Fortune 500 companies looking for quality business leaders are finding that pastors make topnotch managers, motivators, and multitaskers. That’s according to Todd Linder, founder of Launch Point, an Atlanta-based firm that has carved out a niche in the business world nationally by helping pastors transition from churches to the secular marketplace. A significant increase in the number of pastors leaving ministry opened the door for the new venture.

NASHVILLE — Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee interim president Willie McLaurin has resigned effective immediately after members of a search team found that he had included false information on his resume. He had been interim leader since February 2022 and was a candidate for the permanent position.

VILLA RICA, Ga. — Georgia pastor Kevin Williams sees what he describes as a spiritual shift that is bringing the Bible back to the Bible Belt. “People are searching for truth,” he said Friday, a day after 220 students in Carroll County, Ga., surrendered their lives to Christ. “We’re living in a time that the Bible warns about, when people will be calling wrong right and right wrong. We’ve reached a point where people are saying enough is enough. It’s like a switch has flipped and things are going back the other direction.”

FORSYTH, Ga. — A new nonprofit organization has been created to generate financial support for the Camp Kaleo Retreat Center, a site in rural Monroe County where children gather each summer to learn about Jesus. Friends of Kaleo will raise money for improvement projects and to help cover camp fees for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend, said Jim Strickland, president of the new organization.

SWAINSBORO, Ga. — Lured by a few simple handwritten signs and some orange traffic cones, long lines of people showed up for a drive-through prayer outreach in Swainsboro. And in yet another sign of spiritual revival in Georgia, some 30 people surrendered their lives to Christ.

CHATSWORTH, Ga. — As a school bus driver, Robert Richardson feels the weight of responsibility in hauling the most precious of all cargos — children. But, as a Baptist minister, he gladly shoulders that responsibility. With school districts across Georgia struggling to fill bus driver positions, church leaders have been stepping into the role, fitting bus routes into their daily ministry routines.

CARROLLTON, Ga. — Thousands of backpacks filled with classroom supplies have begun making their way into the hands of needy children in time for the start of school, courtesy of Mission Georgia, the wide-ranging outreach to the state’s most vulnerable residents.

MONROE, GA – Scores of people from 1025 Church and community gathered for the dedication of the church’s newest facility, which will be called the Murray Ministry Center. The freshly painted, sparkling white building, formerly occupied by Monroe’s First National Bank, was given to the church by Kenneth and Jean Murray. Their son, Kenneth Murray, Jr. is an active deacon at 1025 Church, drummer for the worship team, and Pastor Fountain’s prayer partner.

STATESBORO, Ga. — Cambodian Southern Baptist leaders believe their recent purchase of a 7-acre former wedding venue, to be used as a conference center, is a miracle given to them by God. They call it the Blessing Field, an obvious reference to the Killing Fields Cambodians endured during the 1970s as depicted in a 1984 major motion picture of the same name.

CORNELIA, Ga. — A spiritual movement that began in Georgia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is still going strong, showing up most recently in Habersham County where 39 people made salvation decisions last week in an evangelistic outreach. Tony Gray, associational missions strategist in the Habersham and Liberty Baptist associations, said a new church also could be planted as a result of the outreach, which, he said, shows the impact congregations have when they work together.

BARRE, Vt. — Disaster relief volunteers from Georgia Baptist churches are continuing their work in in Vermont helping flood victims recover from what’s being described as that state’s worst natural disaster in nearly a century. “The jobs are massive, lots of debris and flood damage,” said Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Amid the fun and games of Vacation Bible School, serious spiritual business has taken place at churches across Georgia over the past two months. “Thousands of kids have made salvation decisions,” said Jenni Carter, kids ministry consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. Churches of every size and in every region of the state reported not only the highest attendance in years at Vacation Bible School but also large numbers of children committing their lives to Christ.

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. — In north Georgia, people eagerly make their way into Blairsville’s First Baptist Church each Sunday. An excitement has taken hold here that causes people not to want to miss worship services. Attendance has surpassed pre-COVID numbers. More than 80 people have joined the church in the past year. And nearly 40 have been baptized. Not all churches are so fortunate, according to a Lifeway Research survey that quizzed churchgoers about the top reasons they skip church services.

SUWANEE, Ga. — Crews from Georgia churches are deploying to Vermont to help victims in what has been described as that state’s worst natural disaster in nearly a century. Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said flood response units are expected to pull out Monday morning enroute to Barre, Vt., one of the hardest hit communities.

ROCHELLE, Ga. — More than 30 migrant workers who came to southwest Georgia to harvest watermelons will leave with much more than a paycheck. That’s because they prayed to receive Christ at First Baptist Church of Rochelle, where they gathered Thursday for dinner and a gospel presentation by Georgia Baptist Mission Board missions consultant Samuel Ayala.

SUWANEE, Ga. — The Index News Service has been launched to provide Georgia-centric religion coverage to the state’s newspapers at no cost. The Christian Index, the nation’s oldest religious newspaper, created the news service to provide access to the kind of content readers want in a state where, according to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of residents consider religion “very important” in their lives.

SYLVESTER, Ga. — When Ricky Braswell, weakened by chemotherapy and radiation, began having trouble maneuvering the steps into his home, a team of builders from Isabella Baptist Church showed up to construct an access ramp. Problem solved. Braswell’s ramp was only the latest built by the Isabella volunteers who have completed 108 for residents of Worth County over the past decade.

Lonely. Desperate. Drunk. Anxiety-ridden. It was a life Michaela Knippers knew all too well. Growing up she watched family members travel the exact road she was on. She wanted an escape.  So the young woman turned on the computer and transported herself from an empty Tulsa, Oklahoma, apartment to a techno-colored virtual world. In this video game, she could be anyone or do anything she wanted. No one in real life would ever recognize her.

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — It was during time of crisis that Mark Richt committed his life to Christ. While an assistant coach at Florida State University, one of his players had been tragically killed, and legendary coach Bobby Bowden, the always unapologetic Christian, pulled the entire team together and shared the hope that can be found in Christ. Richt, who went on to lead the University of Georgia football team as head coach, walked into Bowden’s office the next morning and said the words that changed his life: “I need Jesus.”

SUWANEE, Ga. — Keys to ensuring that pastors don’t get worn down by the grind of ministry include observing a day of rest each week and taking periodic sabbaticals. That’s according to the Barna Research Group, an organization that monitors cultural and religious trends in America. “When compared to statistics from 2015, current Barna data shows that pastors’ well-being — spiritually, mentally and emotionally — has decreased significantly,” Barna said in a June article that delved into the importance of rest and selfcare.

SUWANEE, Ga. — The Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s annual SPARK conferences are taking shape with more than 40 speakers who will share insights into how churches can grow disciples and reach their communities for Christ. “The purpose of SPARK is to equip and empower lay leaders to their next step as a healthy disciple of Jesus,” said Scott Sullivan, the state Mission Board’s discipleship catalyst.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Many Georgia churches celebrated the long Independence Day weekend with sermons calling on believers to engage with politicians at the local, state and national levels on issues of biblical and ethical importance. “There’s an old saying that’s true, that they see the light when they feel the heat,” said longtime Atlanta-area pastor Richard Lee who spoke Sunday at Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville.

JESUP, Ga. — A resilient Jack Lee is back in the pulpit, serving as interim pastor at First Baptist Church in Jesup. “It has been invigorating for me,” said Lee, who has been fighting Stage 4 cancer for the past two years. “I’m not just surviving; I’m thriving.” Lee, 65, had retired as pastor at Altamaha Baptist Church at Madray Springs in 2021. “At the time, I was to the point I couldn’t preach,” he said. “Mouth sores that the chemo was causing was really giving me trouble.” Doctors had given Lee a year, possibly two, to live  at the time of his retirement. Yet, he’s still stepping into the pulpit on Sundays with the vigor of a young preacher.

SUWANEE, Ga. — A survey that quizzed Americans on their openness to hearing the gospel has affirmed what Georgia Baptists have been seeing on the frontlines of ministry, that people are eager to talk about Jesus. “Across all generations, the majority of people are spiritually open,” the Barna Group reported in an article last week.

NEW ORLEANS — Southern Baptists have adopted a groundbreaking resolution on artificial intelligence that will serve as a guide to church leaders as well as their government lobbyists. “We must proactively engage and shape these emerging technologies rather than simply respond to the challenges of AI and other emerging technologies after they have already affected our churches and communities,” the resolution said.

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