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Looking Back with Thanksgiving and Forward with Faith

BMA Lobby LogoBy Steve Crawley, Lifeword Executive Director
From Mission:World November/December 2014
missionworldmag.com

Recently an elderly pastor within the Baptist Missionary Association (BMA) of America visited the new headquarters building in Conway, Arkansas. He reminisced about a conversation he had with a group of pastors some forty years earlier regarding associational work. “If our departments could work together more closely, we could be so much more effective in helping our churches,” they concluded. After touring the facility and discussing the new vision, he commented, “I’m more excited about the work of the BMA today than I have ever been in my entire ministry!”

As we look back with thanksgiving for the labor and toil of those who came before us, we look forward with faith as God directs us into a new chapter of associational work. It is thrilling to see how God is invigorating our associated efforts. Churches and departments are collaborating like never before to fulfill the Great Commission.

Looking Back With Thanksgiving

We look back with thanksgiving for the provisions of God and for the many men and women who gave their lives in service to our Lord. Our predecessors understood the power of churches working together and encouraged a spirit of cooperation from the genesis of the association. The BMA Statement of Principles of Cooperation asserts that the purpose of the BMA of America is to “provide cooperating departments and agencies that will inspire a mission vision and assist each local church in carrying out the Great Commission.” We are grateful for the vision of cooperation that has laid a firm foundation upon which we can build.

Historically, organizational life cycles follow a predictable pattern – progress, plateau, and decline. The BMA is no different from any other organization. Looking back on the history of the association, as shared when we originally cast the Vision for the Future plan, reveals some periods of distinction.

The origin of the BMAA dates back to May 25, 1950, when dedicated men and women representing 465 churches met at Temple Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas and stepped out with courage and faith to form a new association. By 1970, the BMA of America had birthed departments or agencies that encompassed various facets of ministry including missions, publications, education, research and public relations, chaplaincy, youth, and media.

By 1970, the association had grown from 465 churches to approximately 1,500 and, according to Dr. John Duggar in his book on the history of the BMA, the “forward thrust seems to have been greater from 1971 to 1980 than in previous decades.” This period of expansion was marked by significant increases in financial contributions from the churches, resulting in new mission fields, new publications, and new departments. There were more denominational workers than ever before by the end of the decade, and the associational work seemed to be “getting bigger and better.” Key highlights during the period of expansion and plateau were the number of baptisms reported for the years 1969-1978, which averaged 10,206 annually. Dr. Duggar noted in his historical account of the association that the BMA reached a point of maturity during this era.

As the association came to a point of maturation in the mid to late 1980s, a period of decline—as with any organization—would follow. The number of reported baptisms during the last decade of the century decreased by 70%, 41% of new mission projects disbanded, and less than half of the churches surveyed in 2010 were intentional in their disciple-making efforts. As with any organization in decline, short of a catalytic event to halt the downward trend, the situation was not likely to improve.

Yet we are thankful to God for raising up pastors, laypeople, and other leaders willing to meet these challenges head on. Over the last decade, there has been a concerted effort to increase the level of cooperation among BMA churches and entities. Beginning with the departmental restructuring effort in 2004 and culminating with the Vision for the Future approved in 2013, we are now witnessing God’s invigoration of the associated work with a “fresh wind and fresh fire!”

Recent Developments

A major obstacle limiting cooperation in the past has been departments working from separate locations, often with a unilateral vision. Phase one of the departmental integration effort, which was approved by the churches in 2013, removed this obstacle. The staffs of BMA Missions, BMAA Foundation, DiscipleGuide (approved in 2014), and Lifeword now work from the same facility in Conway, Arkansas. What was once a dream is now a reality. This strategic move provides departments and agencies a state of the art facility to serve our churches. Simultaneously, the on-going operating cost structures for each entity will be lower by sharing employees where applicable as well as fixed overhead costs.

Another obstacle has been the lack of a centralized entity to facilitate shared costs among cooperating departments. The first phase of the integration process has also removed this obstacle with the creation of the BMA America Limited Liability Company (LLC). The BMA America LLC is owned by the departments of the association and provides a way to classify shared costs, employees, and assets. The jointly owned headquarter facility in Conway will be held within the LLC, and each department’s ownership will be proportionate with its level of investment.

This centralization effort maintains the distinction of separate, autonomous departments while providing a structure of optimal efficiency. The LLC is not a department or agency, and all costs of the entity are allocated to the departments or agencies where applicable. Shared overhead and employee costs are budgeted within each department based on standard costs; actual costs are then allocated based on the actual work performed. Thus, only costs associated with a department’s or an agency’s activities are charged to that entity and reported in its financial statements. For full transparency, independent auditors will review the transactions of the LLC annually.

In 2014, the churches of the BMA approved the formation of a new agency of the association – BMAA Foundation. This agency provides a venue for members of churches within the BMA to help fund Great Commission efforts in perpetuity. Foundation Executive Charles Attebery is leading this agency and the planned giving initiative. Within the past year alone, 2.2 million dollars was committed to the work of BMA entities through the planned giving initiative, and this is just the tip of the iceberg when one considers the compounded impact such a program will have in years to come.

Someone once said, “Information is the life blood of any organization.” For the first time in our history, the BMA now provides constituents with an informational magazine that highlights the entire work of the association. Produced in house, the magazine’s contents are aimed at keeping church members informed about our joint efforts of reaching the world for Christ. Additionally, for the first time the BMA has a website that is perpetually updated to keep churches informed about the ministries in real time.

Looking Forward With Faith

Just as our predecessors stepped out in faith 64 years ago, we must step out in faith today. The first phase of integration focused on establishing a shared facility and developing an efficient operating structure. We are thankful that God has provided the means for us to achieve our initial goals. However, if accomplishing these objectives is the extent of our vision, our level of effectiveness will be greatly compromised. The first phase of the integration effort was simply a step to provide the operating platform necessary to accomplish the second phase – strategic alignment. We do not know where this effort will lead but look forward with faith, trusting the Lord to direct our path.

To begin the second phase of integration, the departments and agencies of the BMA of America will come together to engage in formal strategic planning. We intend for this exercise to be perpetual and fluid. The purpose of the effort will be to address some of the challenges faced during our period of decline. We also hope to design a cohesive ministry plan with each entity working together in concert with the others to assist BMA churches in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Departmental leaders acknowledge that our churches do not exist for the departments; the departments exist for the churches. A part of the process will involve engaging in research that will provide a basis to develop innovative ways to assist churches in their quest to minister within their locales. Moreover, the departments will also continue to assist churches in their quest to make disciples of the nations.

As we look back, we are thankful for God’s providence and for the foundation our forefathers provided in the past. As we look forward, we walk by faith with an aura of anticipation about where God will take us in the future. Echoing the sentiments of the pastor quoted earlier, “I am more excited than ever about the work of the BMA of America!” In this season of Thanksgiving and celebration, may we pause to express gratitude to our sovereign Lord for what He has done and for what He is going to do.

Giving Thanks Always

PA - Jo - Michael HeuermannBy Dr. Charley Holmes, BMA Theological Seminary President
From Mission:World Magazine November/December 2014
missionworldmag.com

Many people have read the second half of Ephesians 5:18 and immediately strained mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically to become “filled with the Spirit.” Many are soon disappointed when it seems all their exercises and perhaps even the suggestions of some charismatic preacher fail to produce the sought after “filling.” They would be much more satisfied by simply looking at the following verses which tell us three things to practice in order to be filled: verse 19 says to be engaged faithfully in worship with God’s people, verse 21 tells us to be in proper submission in our different stations in life, and those two things lead us to be “filled”/controlled by the Spirit. Verse 20 adds perhaps the most difficult discipline to practice: cultivating a thankful heart.

Verse 20 instructs us to give thanks always. At times believers begin to take God’s blessings for granted. It is easy to do when we enjoy a greater degree of personal liberty and material wealth than most, especially when both of these were largely provided by previous generations. When familiarity with daily blessings or the hectic schedules take their toll, we feel less than “filled.” Taking an inventory of acts of grace in our lives can push the needle on our thankfulness gauge back towards full. As we enter the Thanksgiving season, it is especially timely to take “inventory.” I realize that no inventory of God’s blessings could ever be complete, but just making this short one for the Seminary makes me feel a little more “filled” with the Spirit.

BMA Seminary’s list of reasons to be thankful:
  1. Faithful Churches: Since the founding of the Seminary in 1955, the vast majority of its operating income has been from churches that include the Seminary in their monthly giving to mission causes. This past year approximately one-third of our churches gave about 60% of our operating budget.
  2. Faithful Individuals: A number of individuals give regularly, similar to our faithful churches. These individuals also occasionally send even more when special needs arise, such as this summer when we had unexpected roof repairs to the classrooms. Some individuals even make legacy gifts. This past year we received two gifts from estates. Both gifts were planned and put in place before I even began classes at the Seminary. One of the gifts had been arranged decades before. This was done without anyone on campus knowing anything about the gift, or meeting the giver.
  3. Faithful Associations: We are thankful for the spirit of cooperation in the departments of the BMA of America (BMAA) throughout the integration process. We are also thankful for the foresight of the BMAA in beginning the work of the BMAA Foundation and to Brother Charles Attebery for providing leadership in this area. Brother Charles has already worked with several families in our area to set up legacy gifts such as the ones mentioned earlier. In addition, we are thankful for the many local and state associations who provide special gifts to support our students through scholarship funds and the general fund, which provide for day-to-day expenses and the upkeep of our buildings.
  4. Faithful Trustees: We appreciate the time our trustees spend away from their families and churches, especially when we were going through the accreditation process. Presently, one trustee has served the board longer that most others. Forrest Priest was first elected to the Seminary Board of Trustees in 1995. He faithfully served for ten years, was reelected in 2007, and is currently serving as Vice Chairman of the Seminary Board of Trustees.
  5. Faithful Teachers: Our two longest-serving teachers are Dr. Greg Parsons and Dr. James Shine, who together have taught a total of 57 years at BMA Seminary in the Biblical Studies Department.

Dr. Parsons holds the following credentials: B.S., University of Central Arkansas, 1970; M.Div., Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, 1973; S.T.M., Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1975, 1980. Dr. Parsons has many published works. For example, he has been contributor to The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (1997), now called The NKJV Study Bible (2007); The Holman Study Bible (2010); and Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. Walter Elwell (1996). He has also written several articles in theological journals (Bibliotheca Sacra and The Criswell Theological Review).

Dr. Shine holds the following credentials: B.A., Central Baptist College, 1971; M.Div., Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, 1978; M.A., Stephen F. Austin State University, 1981; Ph.D. studies, Baylor University, 1986; D.D., Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, 2006. In addition, Dr. Shine has faithfully pastored Enterprise Baptist Church near Jacksonville, Texas, for nineteen years.

We are also thankful for the two most recent additions to our teaching staff: Brian Rickett and Dr. Andy Snider, who are adding new vigor and devotion to the BMA Seminary Arkansas site in Conway, Arkansas.

Brother Rickett serves as Arkansas Extension Site Administrator and Professor of Biblical Studies. He holds the following credentials: B.S., Central Baptist College, 1996; M.Div., Th.M., The Master’s Seminary, 2000, 2003; Th.D. studies, The Master’s Seminary; D.Min. studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2014. He currently pastors The Bible Church at Beebe, which petitioned into the BMAA this past year.

Dr. Snider comes to the Arkansas site as professor of Theological–Historical Studies with eleven years of teaching experience at The Master’s Seminary. He holds the following credentials: B.A., Cedarville University, 1989; M.Div., Th.M., Th.D., The Master’s Seminary, 2000, 2002, 2007.

  1. Faithful Ladies on Staff: We are thankful for the ladies who work on our staff. The two ladies who have served at BMA Seminary the longest are Carol Shine and Alicia Johnson. Together they have served a total of 48 years. Two other ladies that have joined our staff more recently are Keri Southern in the Business Office and Lisa Satterwhite in the Dean’s Office.
  2. Faithful Students: Jo Yaebeang from Thailand came to the Seminary a few years ago with the help of former Director of Missions Brother Jerry Kidd. Jo’s education expenses were paid through the International Student Scholarship (ISS) Fund. These scholarship funds are provided by faithful churches, Sunday school classes, WMA groups and individuals. Jo is now faithfully serving the BMA in his home country as a new missionary and is thankful for the support of the ISS Fund.

Michael Heuermann is a second-generation BMATS student. His father Paul, class of ’86, was a BMA missionary in Africa for many years. Michael was raised in BMA churches and on the mission field in Africa. Michael has earned a BA in sacred music and is now completing an MACM (Master of Arts in pastoral ministry). He is faithfully pastoring Antioch Baptist Church near Gilmer, Texas. Michael has received more than one scholarship in addition to the Asher Award for academic excellence provided by Glenfawn Baptist Church near Cushing, Texas, formerly pastored by Brother Louis Asher. Brother Asher taught many years at BMA Seminary. Brother Michael is thankful for Glenfawn and the legacy of the Asher Family.

After taking this short inventory of God’s blessings on BMA Seminary, even though it is not complete, I feel a little more “filled” with the Spirit. It reminds me that all the blessings on the list were made possible as God moved through faithful churches, individuals, WMAs, and Sunday school classes. It reminds me of the one by whose hand these blessings come, and I “Give thanks unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Dedication Set for New BMA Headquarters Facility

blank buildingBy Donny Parrish
Chief Creative Officer, BMA America

Dedication for the new BMA International Headquarters facility is scheduled for September 25th at 2:00 pm.  Following the dedication, the public is invited to tour the new facility until 5:00 pm.

The Baptist Missionary Association of America (BMA), a group of 1,300 churches committed to sharing talents and resources in order to make disciples of all nations, has created a family of ministries. Three of those ministries will now be located in Conway. BMA Missions and DiscipleGuide Church Resources have relocated to share facilities and a common vision with Lifeword Media Ministries, who has been a Conway resident for over 50 years. The BMA also supports the BMA Theological Seminary who has its main campus in Jacksonville, Texas and an extension campus at Central Baptist College.

BMA Missions seeks to facilitate churches in fulfilling the Great Commission through assessment, training, coaching and missionary care. BMA Missions helps churches mobilize missionaries by getting them to the field and sustaining them in their ministries. Presently, BMA Missions assists more than 1,000 missionary families in nearly 85 countries around the world.

DiscipleGuide Church Resources partners with local churches to help make disciples of Jesus Christ. Through print and internet-based products, DiscipleGuide creates discipleship materials that are used in hundreds of churches. Thousands attend the world-class conferences and workshops produced by DiscipleGuide. DiscipleGuide also operates Daniel Springs Baptist Camp, located in Gary, Texas, which hosts hundreds of campers each year.

Lifeword Media Ministries uses technology to take the Gospel of Jesus to the world. Through radio, television, the Internet and mobile devices, Lifeword brings the message of Christ to places and people that may be inaccessible any other way. Presently broadcasting 48 unique programs in 35 languages, Lifeword has a potential listening audience of tens of millions.

Also housed in the new BMA International Headquarters is the BMA Foundation, an endowment ministry that seeks to fund missionary endeavors around the world. In addition, a professional production team of web, print, video and audio engineers complete with audio and video studios are located in the facility.

BMA International Headquarters is located at 611 Locust Street in Conway, Arkansas. For future information about the dedication call 501.329.6891 ext. 3833. For more information concerning the ministries of the BMA of America visit the following sites:

www.bmamissions.org

www.discipleguide.org

www.lifeword.org

www.bmats.edu

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BMA America Publishes Address Changes

Production2The recent move to Conway, Arkansas by BMA Missions and DiscipleGuide Church Resources, has necessitated a change in address for these departments. Please note the following addresses when sending offerings or correspondence to BMA National Departments.

BMA Missions
PO Box 878
Conway, AR  72033-0878

DiscipleGuide
PO Box 1749
Conway, AR  72033-1749

Lifeword
PO Box 6
Conway, AR  72033-0006

The street address for the above departments for UPS or FedEx shipping of packages including all used literature to be disbursed on the mission field is:

611 Locust Street
Conway, AR  72034

 

BMA Theological Seminary
PO Box 670
Jacksonville, TX  75766-0670

Ministers Resource Services
PO Box 2866
Texarkana, AR  75504-2886

Moral Action Agency
PO Box 305
Mantachie, MS  38855-0305

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2014 BMAA National Meeting Schedule

BMAA NATIONAL MEETING
APRIL 28-30, 2014
STATEHOUSE CONVENTION CENTER
LITTLE ROCK, AR

MONDAY EVENING – April 28th

7:00 pm – First General Session

  • Introduction of guests for official welcome to Little Rock, AR
  • Sounding of the gavel declaring the meeting open
  • Introduction of the Host Committee
  • Introduction of the Committee on Arrangements
  • Introduction of Officers
  • President’s Message

 

TUESDAY MORNING – April 29th

8:30 am – WMA Meeting
8:30 am – Brotherhood Meeting
10:00 am – Pastor’s and Laymen’s Conference

TUESDAY AFTERNOON

3:00 pm – Second General Session

  • Opening instructions to the messengers
  • Initial Report of Enrollment Committee
  • Petitioning Churches
  • Proposed Changes to the Statement of Principles of Cooperation
  • Nominees for Nomination Committee
  • Clerk’s Report
  • Moral Action Agency Report
  • Miscellaneous Business

 

TUESDAY EVENING

7:00pm – Third General Session

  • Central Baptist College Choir
  • Violinist Jamie Jorge
  • Annual Sermon – Eric Johnson

 

WEDNESDAY MORNING – April 30th

8:30am – Fourth General Session

  • WMA report
  • Brotherhood report
  • Master’s Builders report
  • Coordinating Council’s report
  • Nominating Committee’s report
  • Lifeword report
  • Vote on any changes to the Statement of Principles of Cooperation
  • Committee on Arrangements report
  • Ministers Resource Services report
  • Miscellaneous business

 

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

2:00pm – Fifth General Session

  • BMA Seminary report
  • Revolving Loan Fund report
  • DiscipleGuide Church Resource report
  • Final Nominating Committee’s report
  • Minute and Clerk Hire
  • Election of Officers and Annual Speaker
  • Election of Missions Advisory Committee members
  • Final report of Enrollment Committee
  • Miscellaneous business

 

WEDNESDAY EVENING

7:00pm – Sixth General Session

  • Missions Department report
  • Closing of the 65th annual session
  • Missionary Commissioning Service

Twelve Institutions Selected for The Future of Libraries in Theological Education Conversation

From The American Theological Library Association
Chicago, IL, April 10, 2014 – Twelve institutions have been selected to participate inThe Future of Libraries in Theological Education: A Conversation with Chief Academic Officers, Information Technology Officers, and Library Directors​.  The program, sponsored by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) and Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) will be held as a one-day pre-conference event on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, ahead of the 2014 ATS/COA Biennial Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.
“Theological education is changing and libraries must change, too,” said Brenda Bailey-Hainer, ATLA Executive Director.  “This conversation among three key leadership groups provides the opportunity to proactively shape future theological libraries and librarians in ways that will integrate them into the teaching, learning, and research processes of the academy.”
The selected institutions are:
  • Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary
  • Chicago Theological Seminary
  • Claremont School of Theology
  • Columbia Theological Seminary
  • Lancaster Theological Seminary
  • Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary / Lenoir-Rhyne University
  • Nazarene Theological Seminary
  • Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
  • Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Shaw University Divinity School
  • St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
  • Wesley Theological Seminary
The conversation will be a first step toward understanding the roles of libraries and librarians in theological education as perceived by diverse stakeholders, including academic leaders, information technology officers, and librarians.
Participants will share their perceptions and create a shared vision for the future theological library – including its contribution to curriculum and to scholarly research – in the changing world of theological education. The results of the conversation will be reported out to a broader audience in a session held the following day during the COA Biennial Meeting as well as through official ATLA publication channels.

Slayton to receive Kellar Award

(The Baptist Progress – Vol 101, No. 04)

BPMar19email-20JACKSONVILLE, Texas—The BMA Seminary will hold its annual Seminary Friends Dinner at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 29, at the 65th annual meeting of the BMA of America. The 2014 dinner will be in Salon C of the Marriott (Headquarters) Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is approximately a 5-minute walk (indoors through hallways with elevators or escalators) to the headquarters hotel. Once again, the cost of the dinner will be $25 per person.

The 2014 Kellar Award will be presented to Dr. Joel Slayton. Dr. Slayton is the eleventh Kellar Award recipient. This award, named in honor of the late Dr. Gerald Kellar, the founding president of BMA Seminary, recognizes a seminary alumnus for outstanding contributions in ministry typifying the legacy of Dr. Kellar.

Kellar Award Honoree

The Kellar Award honoree, Dr. Joel Slayton, was converted at the age of 12 and was ordained at the age of 19. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a Master of Divinity from BMA Seminary, Jacksonville, Texas, and a Doctor of Theology at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. He also did post-doctorate studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and Jerusalem University College in Jerusalem, Israel.

Dr. Slayton is married to Dianne (Kelly) Slayton and they have two children, Joey and Amy Slayton South. They also have 5 grandchildren, Casey and Candyce Slayton and Connor, Claire, and Christopher South.

Dr. Slayton has pastored and served as interim pastor of BMA churches in Arkansas, Texas, and Alabama and is currently interim pastor of Oak Park Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. During his ministry he has preached in ten states and four foreign countries. In addition, he has travelled in Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America.

Dr. Slayton has served the BMA in several areas: writing approximately twenty quarterlies for the Baptist Publishing House, serving as editor of the Alabama Baptist Banner, serving on committees for the BMA of America and the BMA of Arkansas, in addition to responsibilities in local associations. He has been a commencement speaker, a Bible conference speaker, a guest lecturer for the Fall Lecture Series at BMA Seminary and delivered annual messages at both the BMA of Alabama and BMA of Arkansas.

Dr. Slayton has been a teacher at Central Baptist College in Conway, Arkansas since 1976 and has served as instructor, professor, Chair of the Bible Department, Vice President of Graduate Affairs, Graduate Dean, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Interim President, as well as serving on numerous committees. He states that he enjoys the classroom experience the most.

Sharing the Rock with Little Rock

BMAA Department Directors and Brother Paul White, BMA of Arkansas Missions Director, have planned Sharing the Rock with Little Rock. Those who will are willing to “do the work of an evangelist” should meet at 1:00 p.m., Monday, April 28, 2014, near the Northeast corner windows overlooking the river on the Ballroom Level of the Convention Center. Participants will receive survey forms, tracts, and instructions. Teams will be formed and sent from there to witness in selected neighborhoods where BMA Churches are located. Dr. Holmes will lead a team that will reach out to the area around the hotel and convention center. Just bring your New Testament and an expectant, prayed-up heart. There is no admission fee for this event.

To make reservations for the Seminary Dinner, join Sharing the Rock, or volunteer for a support prayer group, contact Carol Shine at 800-259-5673 or carol.shine@bmats.edu.

Seminary Schedules Brand Lectures

20140312etrumpet2(Baptist Trumpet – Volume 74, Issue 24, March 12, 2014)

The 2014 “Brand Lectures” will be held March 25 and 27 in the Dorman Memorial Chapel on the campus of BMA Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, TX. Guest lecturer will be Dr. Gary O’Neal, pastor of Greenwood Baptist Church in Fulton, MS, and writer of one or two Compass Teacher (Advancer) Publications each year for DiscipleGuide (formerly Baptist Publishing House).

The public lectures will be presented in four sessions:

• Tuesday, 10 a.m., “Truth Which Leads to Godliness” and 3 p.m., “Leadership Which Promotes Godliness”.

• Thursday, 10 a.m., “Lifestyles Which Become Godliness” and 3 p.m., “Grace Which Produces Godliness”.

Dr. O’Neal grew up in Perkinston, MS, attending Paramount Baptist Church. In 1972, his pastor, George Reddin, led him to trust Christ as his personal Savior. In 1982 after surrendering to the ministry, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, FL, and while there, he met and married Lynn Smith.

Gary and Lynn moved to New Hampshire, where they served for 10 years before moving to Texas to attend the BMA Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 2000. Then in 2013, he earned a Ph.D. degree in New Testament Studies from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, TN. Gary and Lynn have four adult children and two grandchildren.

The “Brand Lectures” are named in honor of the late Dr. and Mrs. Ralph A. Brand of Hattiesburg, MS. They were faithful servants of the Lord for over 50 years.

Mrs. Brand retired as head of the cataloguing department of the library at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Brand worked in prison ministries for over 30 years and was director of New Directions Prison Ministries until his resignation in 1998.

Dr. Brand traveled extensively and authored several articles and books. Three of his best known works include Simplified Techniques of Counseling, Analysis of Revelation, and Techniques of Counseling: An Aid to Pastoral Efficiency.