- - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TENNESSEE

Great Commission‘ name excites few Southern Baptists

NASHVILLE — Some Southern Baptists worry that their denomination’s name still carries the stigma of a 19th-century split with northern Baptists over slavery. Others who fought hard to build the brand and its conservative theology and politics don’t want to see it go.

So the idea to add the description of “Great Commission Baptists” to the name of the Southern Baptist Convention might be a compromise that excites almost none of the 16 million who make up the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

“It’s not clear-cut. We can’t fully criticize or fully celebrate,” said Jonathan Merritt, a faith and culture writer and young minister at Cross Pointe Church near Atlanta. He wanted a new legal name.

“I serve in a big, multiethnic church here in Atlanta, and as late as last Sunday there was an African-American couple that said when they found out we were a Southern Baptist church, they almost didn’t join,” he said.

The “Great Commission” description endorsed by the SBC’s executive committee on Tuesday would be strictly optional. It still must be voted on by delegates at the annual convention this summer. Southern Baptist churches are independent, and many of them don’t have “Southern” in their names anyway.

TEXAS

Man found guilty in rape-torture case

WEATHERFORD — A Texas man was found guilty Tuesday of kidnapping his former neighbor, holding her captive and torturing her for nearly two weeks.

Jurors deliberated 50 minutes before reaching a verdict in the trial of Jeffrey Allan Maxwell, who was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault after a Texas woman testified that he whipped her on a deer-skinning device and that she endured repeated assaults as she was held captive for 12 days.

Maxwell, 59, faces life in prison. Jurors will hear more evidence during the trial’s punishment phase, which was to start Wednesday.

The woman testified last week that Maxwell abducted her from her rural home at gunpoint March 1 after beating her in the face and shackling her hands and legs. Then he drove 100 miles away to his Corsicana house. She was rescued 12 days later when authorities went to question him about her disappearance after her house burned down.

OHIO

Animal-rights activist charged in murder plot

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