LISTEN: Southern Baptists on the Study of Black Southern Baptist History; Pastors Write Letter Requesting Franklin Graham Be Disinvited from ‘Festival of Hope’ Event In Vancouver (BCNN1, 2/25/2017)

This is the Black Christian News Network Podcast for Saturday, February 25, 2017.

1. According to Baptist Press, Black History Month gives Americans a yearly spotlight on such key figures in U.S. history as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. Few Southern Baptists, however, have considered key African American figures in SBC history like Garland Offutt, Emmanuel McCall and Fred Luter — the first African Americans respectively to attend a Southern Baptist Convention seminary, serve on an SBC entity staff and be elected SBC president. Yet some Baptist historians hope the study of black Southern Baptist history will flower in years to come in light of new resources, including events hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, books published by LifeWay Christian Resources and SBC ministry reports containing information on ethnic participation. Kevin Smith, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, said the history of African American involvement in the SBC is “part of the broader Southern Baptist us/we/family, and we need that knowledge … of one another to pursue” the Ephesians 4:3 mandate to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

2. According to Life Site News, U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham is not letting name-calling from a handful of ministers and left-wing politicians stop him from participating in Vancouver’s Festival of Hope early next month. A group of 14 ministers have written a letter requesting the event drop his keynote address at the last minute. They accuse of him being “anti-gay,” among other charges. But Graham is himself the organizer, as CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The association is conducting the event with the support of 327 mostly evangelical churches in the Vancouver area. Association spokesman Frank King said, “To even entertain any kind of thought of changing any event, we simply would not do that.” The group of 14 ministers is led by Tom Cooper, president of City in Focus, an interdenominational social justice group. Cooper said, “We have no problem with someone coming to preach the gospel. But it can’t be such a divisive figure that’s so anti-Muslim, anti-gay, anti-black.”

3. According to Cleveland.com, the father of Alianna DeFreeze, the 14-year-old girl who was killed and left in an abandoned Cleveland building, lashed out on social media at controversial Cleveland Heights Pastor Darrell Scott, accusing him of trying to use his daughter’s death as a “publicity stunt.” Damon DeFreeze wrote in a Facebook post that Scott refused to allow the family to hold Alianna’s funeral at his church’s event center after the family told him they did not want Scott to speak at the services. Scott denied the accusation in a phone interview with cleveland.com. He said there was never a verbal or written agreement for the family to hold the funeral at the center. He also said that he never spoke with the DeFreeze family.

4. According to the Christian Post, after paying off his own student loans, Christian rapper Dee-1 has helped five people do the same by making sure their student debts have been cleared. In a contest called “Pays to Repay,” the rapper who went to college and became a middle school teacher before pursuing music full time offered fans who attended college an opportunity to win $10,000 to pay off their student debts. The contest called for people to answer the question: “How did paying for college have a positive effect on your future?” On Thursday, the music artist who was born David Augustine took to Twitter to announce the five winners of that contest. In a statement on the Sallie Mae student loan website, Dee-1 spoke about why he chose to focus on the matter. Last year, the rapper released the song “Sallie Mae Back” and also created a resource with tips and tools to help students manage their own loan payments.

5. According to USA Today, the son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials earlier this month at a Florida airport, according to a family friend. Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the first wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini. Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn’t as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?” When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.

6. According to the Associated Press, in a major break for Bill Cosby, a judge ruled Friday that just one of the comedian’s multitude of other accusers can testify at his trial to bolster charges he drugged and violated a woman more than a decade ago. The 79-year-old TV star is set to go on trial in June, accused of sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. Prosecutors wanted to put 13 other women on the stand to show that his alleged conduct was part of a distinct pattern of behavior. Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill disallowed all but one of those women, saying in a one-page ruling that he carefully weighed the possible value of their testimony against the potential prejudice to Cosby. The one witness who can testify says the comic drugged and assaulted her in 1996 at a Los Angeles hotel. With O’Neill’s ruling, the trial will now rest more heavily on Constand’s credibility.

7. According to Page Six, Mahershala Ali could go home as an Oscar winner on Sunday, but the star just got a new title — dad. The actor, who’s nominated for his supporting role in “Moonlight,” announced the birth of his first child, a baby girl named Bari (Bar-ee) Najma Ali, via Instagram on Friday. Jimmy Kimmel, who’s hosting the Oscars, joked in January that it would be “really good for ratings” if Ali’s wife had the baby during the show. Of the baby’s name, Ali, 43, said, “We’re looking to do something simpler,” adding that they would still “keep it unique.” Ali took home two Screen Actors Guild awards earlier this year for his roles in “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures.” Ali’s rep confirmed the birth of the baby girl.