Southern Baptist International Mission Board terminates 13 missionaries who wouldn't sign statement
Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board fired 13 missionaries who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message by the May 5 deadline issued by IMB president Jerry Rankin. Twenty other missionaries tendered their resignation instead of signing, and 10 others chose early retirement.

"These missionaries are supported by Southern Baptist churches and should at least be willing to conduct their work in basic agreement with what Southern Baptists confess they believe," Rankin said. "Although we regret that any missionary would choose to resign rather than affirm the faith statement, we feel it is time to move forward and keep our focus on sharing Christ with a lost world."

Baptist Press reports that 34 other missionaries resigned last year over the Baptist Faith and Message, and says that claims of an exodus are exaggerated. "The attrition rate in 2002 was 5.2 percent, only .1 percent higher than 2001 and squarely in the middle of the range since 2000," writes Shawn Hendricks of Baptist Press.

Still, says Associated Baptist Press, "It is believed to be the largest group of SBC missionaries ever fired at one time."

There was no dissent among the trustees, according to reports.

"It is not appropriate to expect Southern Baptists to support those who are not willing to work in accord with what the denomination confesses to believe," said Rankin. "To do so would undercut the credibility and confidence in the IMB as a denominational mission entity serving Southern Baptists."

But several of the ousted missionaries say that being forced to sign the document goes against Baptist teachings. "Our authority is the Bible, and no man-written document," Rick and Nancy Dill wrote in an earlier letter to Rankin. Presumably the Dills were among the 13 missionaries fired, but the IMB is not releasing the names.

Missionaries' killer gets death penalty
Abed Abdul Razak Kamel (alternate spellings: Abed Abdel Razzak Kamel and Abed Abdulrazzak al-Kamel), who confessed to killing three IMB missionaries at the Jibla Baptist Hospital in Yemen, was sentenced to death yesterday. He'll probably face a firing squad.

"He deserves even worse," hospital director Abdel Karim Hassan told the Associated Press. (It's unclear from press reports whether Hassan was the hospital's director at the time of the shooting—when the hospital was run by Baptists—or took over when control was passed to the Yemeni government.)

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Kamel, who said he killed the three missionaries and wounded a fourth "out of a religious duty … and in revenge from those who converted Muslims from their religion and made them unbelievers," says he should have been tried by an Islamic court, not a civil one. "The ruling is a political one and violates Islamic Shari'ah law," he said.

More articles: Billy Graham in San Diego

Mission wrap-ups:

  1. Old school religion | 50 years later, Graham is still drawing crowds (Los Angeles Times)

  2. Tending his flock | Evangelist spreads message of faith 'when the world is in turmoil' (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

  3. Thousands flock to see Billy Graham | The evangelist fills San Diego stadium for what may be one of his last missions (The Orange County Register)

  4. Graham touches on Mideast, tornadoes at mission (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  5. Graham wraps up Mission San Diego | Organizers estimated 270,000 people attended the mission; 13,107 individuals made a decision to accept a new life in Christ (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

Billy Graham and youth:

  1. Reaching the youth | Stadium rocks with music, message for young people (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

  2. Billy Graham targeting youth more than ever (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  3. Graham taps into power of youth (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

Graham and race:

  1. Is Graham's ministry bridging the racial divide? | Here in Western North Carolina, some local pastors feel the Montreat evangelist's organization is not doing enough to further the racial reconciliation of which Graham speaks (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  2. Graham insider Jones reflects on 'coloring of crusade' | Howard O. Jones has a perspective on the world's most famous evangelist that is different from any other. He was the first African-American evangelist hired by Billy Graham in 1957 (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

Graham and the military:

  1. In war and peace | Second night of mission places focus on military (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

  2. San Diego homeless, military get aid from Graham ministry (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  3. Graham brings God's word to military-heavy San Diego (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

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