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Alabama pastors give Mormon video mixed receptioncomment (0)

October 2, 2003

By Anthony Wade


A video mailed to every Baptist church in Alabama could be considered spam if it had come as e-mail, but some plan to take advantage of receiving it.
   
William Gurley, a member of First Baptist Church, Leesburg, Fla., sent every Baptist church in the Southern Baptist Convention — including every Alabama Baptist church — a video detailing the beliefs and practices of the Mormon religion.
    
Gurley, a wealthy Christian businessman who financed the distribution personally, used addresses that the North American Mission Board (NAMB) authorized him to use, but only to send a short video on personal evangelism.
   
“The North American Mission Board authorized the use of the SBC church list to send a personal evangelism video, which we previewed last spring,” said Martin King, NAMB spokesman. “But we were not aware of and still have not reviewed the other video (‘The Secret World of Mormonism’),” he said. “We appreciate Bro. Gurley’s passion for evangelism and regret the misunderstanding that led to the mailing of the other video, which we did not authorize,” Martin said, adding that no NAMB funds were used in the mailing.
   
Alabama Baptists are among the 600 Southern Baptist churches across the nation that, as of mid-September, indicated to Gurley they received the video and are using it in some way.

Hugh Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church, Graysville, in the Birmingham Association, is one of 26 Alabama Baptist church leaders responding to Gurley through cards he enclosed with the videos.
Pastors respond
   
“It’s a good film for youth or anyone to see,” said Thomas, who asked the church’s youth leader to show it to the youth group. “It’s very well documented and accurately portrays the true tone of what Mormonism is,” he said.
   
“We’ve viewed it several times,” said Everett Childers, pastor of Orchard Baptist Church, Mobile, in Mobile Association. He said several Sunday School classes gathered to watch it. The video also is now part of the church library and has been checked out several times.
   
“Seeing this tape has given us a deeper understanding of Mormonism in that it goes beyond the surface and helps us develop more in-depth witnessing techniques to Mormons,” Childers said.
   
Charles Jenkins, pastor of Valley Head Baptist Church, Valley Head, in DeKalb Association, said, “I watched it and thought the content seemed well-grounded, but the video itself with the cartoon portion seemed inadequate to capture an adult audience. I’m not really sure how useful the tape would really be. The cartoon part puts it in the middle — perhaps too deep for young people and too distracting for adults,” he said. The cartoon portion Jenkins refers to illustrates some of Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s writings on which the Mormon religion is based.
   
Jenkins added that he has seen “The Mormon Puzzle,” videotape which the NAMB offers and notes the videotape footage is more up-to-date than “The Secret World of Mormonism.”
   
Roy Crowe, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church, Eufaula, in Barbour Association, said he watched the videotape when he first received it a few months ago and had a positive impression of it, feeling it adequately portrayed the reality of what Mormons believe, as far as he knows. They have the tape in the church library. For more on Mormonism, visit resources at www.thealabamabaptist.org.
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