Friday, December 13, 2013

An Interesting Map

Dr. Steve Lemke recently posted a link on Facebook to a very interesting graphic and article regarding the concentration of "Christian" denominations across the U.S.  Here is a link to the article.  The map shows a breakdown of the most dominant religions in the United States on a county by county basis.  The information was compiled from the 2010 Census.

There are many interesting things to talk about regarding this graphic.

One of the things that obviously jumps out at me is the great concentration of churches aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention in the southeastern United States.

This is one of the obvious reasons that our SBC North American Mission Board has turned their focus in church planting efforts toward some of the great metropolitan areas in the Northeast and Northwest and the West Coast.  That's not to say that the SBC churches in the Southeast are reaching everyone with the Gospel, but it is obvious that we do have a strong presence here and there is a need for evangelical work in many other areas of the US and Canada.

I live in Kentucky, which has over 2000 Southern Baptist Churches but my current place of ministry for the past eleven years is just across the Big Sandy River in my native state of West Virginia.  The Mountain State seems to be fairly evenly divided predominantly by American Baptists in the west and United Methodists in the east.  There appear to be four counties where the Church of Christ is most heavily concentrated, with a Roman Catholic presence in the northern panhandle and two counties where the SBC is in majority status.

That last fact is somewhat surprising to me since one of those counties is Wayne County, where the church I serve is located.  I would not have thought of Wayne as being predominantly Southern Baptist due to the high number of other Baptist (American, Free Will, United, Primitive and Independent types) in the mostly rural county.  However, my guess is that the statistic comes from ours, and five other SBC churches located in the more urban northern end of the county, roughly along the Ohio River in Huntington, Ceredo, and Kenova areas.

Any how, as you look over the map, you will probably find many interesting points.

When it comes to religious sports fans, I'd guess that the average Southern Baptist would most likely be a fan of the SEC or ACC.  The purple area would likely root for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Word About Missions at Westmoreland Baptist Church

The year 2014 marks the 99th anniversary of Westmoreland Baptist Church being a spiritual presence in this community.  We were formed as a mission of the Washington Avenue Baptist Church, which later became Jefferson Avenue Baptist Church, which just a few years ago merged with Eastwood Baptist Church on East Pea Ridge in Huntington.  Of the thirteen pastors who I have found listed in the church historical documents, the average tenure was 5 ½ years.  Ralph Webb and Eddie Gandy served the church for 9 ½ years and 8 years, 4 months respectively.  It has been my honor and privilege to serve this church for the past 11 years, making me the longest tenured pastor in our 99 year history.  I am honored to fill the pulpit in the shadow of the men who have served God and this congregation for nearly a century.

Since its founding as a mission, Westmoreland Baptist Church has always been a missional congregation.  Two of our former members have served as full time vocational foreign missionaries.  Two of our present members, have served as journeyman missionaries, and scores of our members have been involved in disaster relief and other short term North American and International mission trips. There are plans in place now for our members to make mission trips to Haiti, New Orleans, and Toronto in 2014, and a tentative plan for the Philippines in early 2015. 

A number of our young men have gone out from this church over the years to serve as pastors in other congregations around the country.  One of the young men who grew up in this church is now President of Campbellsville University in Kentucky. 

We have been blessed to have begun numerous mission works, many of which are solid growing churches today.  Some of these congregations have also planted other churches.

As we begin this 99th year of our ministry here, I just wanted to share with you what we are doing right now (beside the local ministries of this church) in mission work here at Westmoreland Baptist Church.  Presently 13% of the undesignated funds we receive in our offerings are going out of our church in the form of “Great Commission Giving” to Southern Baptist mission works at home and around the world.  Here is a list of missionaries and church planters that we are financially supporting through your tithes and offerings given to Westmoreland Baptist Church:

·        The Greater Huntington Baptist Association and it’s various mission projects like World Changers and church planting

·        5 Seminary trained Southern Baptist native Church Planters in the Negros Southern Baptist Association of Churches in The Republic of the Philippines.  These church planters include the Cadiao, Agaban, Folio, Martin, and Marcelino families.

·        Paul Harris and family, church planters in Barboursville - Abundant Hope Baptist Church

·        Will Basham and family, New Heights Church, Milton WV location

·        Ryan Navy and Family, New Heights Church, Huntington location

·        Jolly and Mary Jane Ampong, Church planters in Toronto, Ontario - All Nations Baptist Church

·        The “G Team” the family of a young lady who grew up in this church who are now serving as missionaries in North Africa/Middle East.  Their names and exact location must remain confidential due to security concerns.

·        We also support more than 5,000 International Missionaries and  5,000 North American Missionaries through our giving through the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention

·        Our CP giving also helps fund Six Southern Baptist Seminaries (training thousands of present and future pastors, missionaries, and other Christian workers).  Our gifts to CP are helping to keep theological education affordable to their students.  We have a personal connection with two of the SBC Seminaries at the present time. I am honored to be serving my second term as a Trustee of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and one of the young men who grew up in our church is presently studying on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY . Through the Cooperative Program we also support the work of the \ SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

As pastor, I want to thank our people for their prayerful and financial support for our mission work here at Westmoreland Baptist Church.  I pray that we as a church will never lose sight of the very missional nature of our existence – to take the Good News of Jesus Christ around the corner, and around the world.