Monday, January 3, 2022

Blending Christmas traditions and new outreach efforts


By: French Harmon

Over the past few years, I have witnessed a church blending traditional Christmas programs and adding a new outreach efforts during the advent season. Each of these services are very well attended from believers and non-Christians in the community. I believe it is valuable lesson for church leaders to consider. 

As the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Somerset, it was a joy to help organize these events. The "Hanging of the Greens" service held on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving allowed long-time members to cherish their church's history and usher in the advent season. Too often a church can forget the traditions that help build-up the congregation. 

Next was the "Childrens Christmas Program." Months of hard work was involved to tell the Christmas story from the eyes of children. I can still remember being a Shepherd or a wise man in Christmas plays long ago. I would suggest that churches continue this tradition by allowing children to learn the advent lesson by dressing-up as an angel, a shepherd, traveling royalty, a barnyard animal or even Mary and Joseph! It certainly brings a great turnout of family members. 

In Somerset, the annual "FBC Living Christmas Tree" presented by the choir and orchestra is an awesome traditional program for he community. After 45 years, each performance is still at auditorium capacity! The gospel message is masterfully woven into the hour-long event with just the right amount of congregational interaction. Music director, David Pendley, never ceases to amaze the congregants with blending new renditions of the sacred story. Pastor Ryan Coffee stated, "People hear the gospel each night for sure." 

Developing the "Contemporary Christmas Program" was a great joy by church leadership and musicians. Having guided the church to add a new contemporary worship expression, this new advent event was natural. It has now grown exponentially. Innovations  in lighting, sound, instrumentation supplement the blending of beautiful harmony and new songs in this service. Caleb Holder, and his staff of talented musicians, brings energy that particularly connects with younger audiences. If you want to reach young families, I would encourage communicating with Caleb or Sara Robinson at FBC Somerset and for additional information. 

Finally, don't give-up on the Christmas Eve Service. Each year people will plan their family traditions around this spiritual event. With COVID-19 restrictions and family gatherings, it is a good idea to add multiple opportunities for this service. Likewise serving the "Lord's Supper" in a sanitized way gives members in the service an extra measure of protection during these unprecedented times. Singing "Silent Night" while holding a candle to Him is truly a joy for each Christian. I believe people will always want this service if it is given careful attention. 

As church leaders embrace God's calling on their leadership, I would offer this advise. Consider blending traditional and innovative outreach efforts at Christmas to bring maximum benefit for His Kingdom! A watching world is waiting. 

French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

This article was reposted from Kentucky Today. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The 'New' Short Term Fund

 The Kentucky Baptist Foundation (KBF) is excited to offer the Short Term Fund (STF) as a new investment option to churches, KBF agencies and institutions and other nonprofit organizations. The STF is a low-risk investment alternative to traditional savings or money market accounts which will give participants daily liquidity, security and a competitive return (1.25% currently). 

The STF allows participants to maximize the return on cash reserves and designated funds (reserve fund, building fund, cemetery fund, etc.) while protecting those funds from the volatility of the market. Earnings are posted monthly, and there are no limits or penalties for withdrawals. A minimum of $5,000 is required to start a new account. 

The earnings rate is determined by market conditions and is set by the Investment Committee of KBF. The current rate is reviewed monthly and is subject to change. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. 

Special advantages of the STF include: 

  • Stable value-STF accounts are not subject to market volatility. Above market rate-currently 1.25% annualized. Liquidity-withdrawals may be requested at any time.
  • Income posted monthly.
  • No minimum or maximum investment period.
  • No limit or penalties for withdrawals.

A diversified portfolio is kept to lower risks and increase the safety of the account. 

While KBF is not an FDIC-insured bank, the foundation has allocated funds to serve as a reserve account to support liquidity and extend the investment horizon. 

Contact us for more information at the Kentucky Baptist Foundation office at 502-489-3533. 

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

KENTUCKY BAPTIST FOUNDATION: Spur one another on to be bright light for Jesus

By: French Harmon

As I was reading through the scriptures, I came to the passage in Hebrews 10:24-25 — the Lord is encouraging believers to spur one another on to love and good works (NIV). The word “spur” is rooted in the Greek word paroxusmos, which means to provoke or stir-up people. “Let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works” (HCSB). God is making the case for Christ followers to be proactive in their love for the Lord.

In this season where many people are passionate about civil, political and international concerns, let each Christian be reminded of our need to be strong promoters of the grace found in Jesus Christ. I believe God is encouraging Kentucky Baptists to be a bright light for Jesus as we serve Him during these unprecedented times. Consider the following acrostic — S-P-U-R.

S — STAND. Live your life for Jesus by standing in His truth. Philippians 4:1 says to “Stand firm in the Lord.” Read the Bible. Join a Bible study or Sunday school class. In some cases, it's time for people to step up and lead a class. Promote spiritual growth in your church. I want to personally say “thank you” to the wonderful Sunday school teachers throughout my life. I pray for a return to Sunday school attendance so people will be prepared for each season of life.

P — PROMOTE. Of all the things you can be known for, being a church “statesperson” would be a great legacy. Thinking of your church's mission and the “greater good” should compel each member to be flexible, positive and outward focused. The pastor of your church has been through a tough COVID-19 season in ministry. He needs and deserves your support. Become a promoter of your pastor, church harmony and love among the membership.

U — UNLEASH. The Lord is encouraging us to unleash the kindness that comes from serving Him. For me, that includes promoting what we can do together through the Cooperative Program. Working together, I have witnessed what Baptists can do by gathering resources to bring hope to many people in Kentucky and around the world. The Southern Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program is the most ingenious mission strategy the world has ever seen. Let us encourage our church leaders to increase our giving to CP this year.

R — REMEMBER. Proverbs 10:7 tells us “The memory of the righteous is a blessing …” We can become beacons of light and love to this dark world when we remember from where we have come. Reflect and share the great moments of your life. Remember your salvation found in Christ. Remember your baptism. Remember the day you united with your church. Remember the mission trip, the revival or church project that changed your life. These are the conversations we need to have right now.

These are great days for Christians to share His love. Don't grow weary in doing well, in due season you will reap a great harvest (Galatians 6:9). Let's “spur” people on to do good works for Christ!

French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

This article was reposted from Kentucky Today. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

KY Baptist Foundation: Funding the Great Commission TOGETHER

By: French D. Harmon, Phd

The Kentucky Baptist Foundation exists to serve churches, institutions and individuals in spreading the gospel through opportunities in legacy, stewardship and investing initiatives. For 76 years the KBF has been faithful to distribute nearly $210 million to gospel causes across the commonwealth. We call that "Funding the Great Commission."

At a recent KBF board of directors meeting, members reaffirmed the mission to provide Kentucky Baptist churches, individuals and institutions with ongoing giving options. It is the KBF's desire to be the "best friend" of every KBC church. Here are three opportunities for our KBC church family:

•SHORT TERM FUND — Since launching the fund in June, churches and institutions have benefitted from the 1.25% return on investment. There joy is in knowing each month extra money is now available to those entities to extend the gospel. By working "together" with the KBF, it is possible to gain additional resources for church planting, revitalization and much-needed ministry funds.

•ENDOWMENTS — The KBF has assisted hundreds of Kentucky Baptists in structuring their estates to benefit the local church, mission organization or gospel-centered causes. By working "together" with the KBF, many individuals are now learning how to tithe their estates. Please contact the KBF to discover how small, medium and large gifts can provide perpetual funds to spread His word.

•STEWARDSHIP — It is the responsible of every believer to grow in giving to support the work of His church. By working "together" with the KBF, congregations can receive guidance on securing biblical stewardship literature, small group studies and information on capital campaigns. KBC pastors are invited to call the KBF to receive a copy of free stewardship resource.

French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

This article was reposted from Kentucky Today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Kentucky Baptist Foundation: Funding the Great Commission

By: French D. Harmon, Phd

The question I am often asked is, "What does the Kentucky Baptist Foundation do?" My answer is simple, "The KBF funds the Great Commission!" As former KBF President A. M. Vollmer said, "We exist to serve all the rest." The KBF is a fiduciary that serves the churches, agencies, and institutions of the KBC.

I am always thrilled to share that over the last 75 years, the KBF has distributed $203 million to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Already this year we have distributed nearly four million dollars! This is our mission, our ministry and our passion.

Like all ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been an uncertain season. But by God's guiding hand and His amazing grace, the KBF has experienced the favor of the Lord. Our assets under management have experienced a complete rebound and continue to grow during this market surge. As of March 31, 2021, our assets under management is now over $230 million. We are beginning to see economic recovery as the United States unemployment rate is declining, vaccinations are increasing and consumer confidence is stabilizing.

This past year…
  • During the last few months, the KBF launched our new online giving platform ( where interested believers can contribute to endowment funds which are already benefitting our agencies, institutions and other ministry partners. We believe this will provide a significant financial impact over time for these ministries. The KBF will continue to be a committed fiduciary for the churches, agencies and institutions of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
  • As president of the KBF, I have connected with many churches by forming the KBF Pastors Council, reorganized our KBF Ambassador Program for laypersons and am setting the groundwork for our Businesspersons Roundtable. We are conducting in-person and virtual presentations for legacy, estate and stewardship training in local churches.
  • The KBF also partners with PhilanthroCorp for personal estate planning consultation. This service is available at no cost by a grant from the KBC for every KBC church pastor. Imagine how wonderful it can be for local congregations when church members learn how to “tithe their estate” and discover how their gift can last a lifetime.
KBF in the present…

  • Our partnership with the KBC links our hearts and hands to the gospel. The KBF desires to have a servant's heart and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our every decision. The scripture says, "In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy path" (Proverbs 3:6). He has for 75 years and He will going forward.
  • The KBF has had a great year as our longstanding relationship with PNC Bank has blossomed into a strong financial performer as it guides our “assets under management” that are socially screened in representing Kentucky Baptist values. PNC is the seventh largest bank in the U.S. and our KBF funds are being protected and placed into favorable positions for success.
  • Your amazing KBF staff members are connecting with congregations throughout the commonwealth to establish endowments, trusts and foundation funds. Several churches have invited the KBF into their church to share the vision for stewardship from a biblical perspective. Thank you, Westport Road, Little Flock, FBC Hazard, Columbia Baptist, Okolona, Highview in Louisville, Severns Valley, Greenup Association and many more!

The KBF going forward...

We are very excited about what the next few months can bring to the churches, institutions and agencies of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Below are three new initiatives …

  • SHORT TERM FUND. The KBF board of directors unanimously voted to provide churches, our agencies and institutions a way to invest their money and provide liquidity, protection and an excellent way to gain additional funds for ministry. Think of the new STF as a “church growth account” that can provide a solid return of investment with minimal risk (Not FDIC insured but with KBF reserve funds). We are targeting a 1% return for the STF with a target launch goal of June 1.
  • BUILDING CONFERENCES. The KBF is looking to partner with the KBC, local churches and associations to assist in all phases of the church building process. We will invite Christian vendors to assist in bringing the latest resources for the congregations to consider. The pandemic has brought about changes and we want to give churches the latest building and financial information.
  • STEWARDSHIP RESOURCES. SBC affiliated churches have not had a “Stewardship Commission” for several years. In my recent meetings at the National SBC Foundation Presidents gathering in Cincinnati, it was determined that individual state conventions should be proactive in producing new stewardship materials. I am asking our great KBC leaders to assist me in publishing transformational literature that will help shape our world through faithful giving.

I conclude by saying again how thankful we are to serve the Lord in this way during this season of ministry. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). The KBF has a vision and desire to serve our local churches. If we can assist you in promotions legacy, estate or stewardship education in your church, agency, or institution, please contact our office. Thank you, Kentucky Baptists!

French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

This article was reposted from Kentucky Today. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Charles Barnes — Baptist statesman


I recently introduced the chairman of Kentucky Baptist Foundation’s Board of Directors, Dr. Charles Barnes, as “Mr. Kentucky Baptist.” What an honor it is to serve alongside such a legendary denominational leader! Jesus said in Matthew 7:16, “You shall know them by their fruits.” Reading his biography gives great evidence to a life of service, commitment and Christ-like humility.

Charles has a career punctuated as a distinguished banker (retired), mayor of River Bluff, chair of the Downtown Louisville District, director with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Man of Year Award from the University of Louisville School of Business.

Baptist Roots. Attending a Baptist high school and college was an integral part of Charles’ spiritual development. He is a graduate of Oneida Baptist Institute and Cumberland Junior College. Later, he would serve as chair of the Board of Trustees at Cumberland College (now University of the Cumberlands).

Church Commitment. Charles has been faithful in building meaningful Christian relationships and supporting his local church. As a member of Hurstbourne Baptist Church in Louisville, he has served as Adult Sunday School teacher, chair of deacons, moderator, chair of Business and Finance Team, Missions and Evangelism Team and interim church administrator.

Associational Leadership. As a member of Louisville Regional Baptist Association (formerly Long Run Baptist Association), Charles served as interim executive director, chair of the Administrative Committee, Business and Finance Committee, moderator, coordinator of Crossover Louisville, FIND IT HERE Campaign, treasurer for the Tony Evans Louisville Outreach event and treasurer for the Greater Louisville Billy Graham Crusade.

Denomination Service. Dr. Barnes has modeled the way a layperson can serve the Lord. President of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, chair of the Administrative Committee and Business and Finance Committee and the chairman of the Financial Board of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Most notably, he is the longest serving KBF board member, interim KBF president and a consultant. Former KBF President Barry Allen stated, “Charles, your life has reflected a sense of success, but with humility, at your ability to integrate that ‘first things first principle’ into the various aspects of your personal and professional life.”

Personal reflection. I was asked to write a short article about life in Christ. I immediately thought of Charles Barnes as a living illustration of a person who represents our Lord in such a magnificent manner. Every Baptist leader should have the privilege to learn “how to manage a committee meeting” from Charles Barnes — courteous, focused and prepared. However, it is how he interacts with people that allows Charles to excel as a Baptist statesman. Through the years, I have watched Charles from a distance and up-close. He is the same authentic person that only wants the kingdom of our Lord to advance. We need more Charles Barneses in our Baptist world.

Recently, Charles and I had breakfast at one of his favorite restaurants — First Watch. We both ordered the same meals as in previous meetings. But it was his personal stories that became the real meal for me. He took me back to KBC leaders like Boswell, Owen, Marshall, Mackey, Chitwood and Eldred Taylor who can easily provide a map for our future leaders to follow. Time will tell how we learn from our history, but during this season we have been blessed by one who has given his life to unify Kentucky Baptists. Thank you, Charles, for your service and to his wife, Shelva, for sharing him with us.

French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.

This article was reposted from Kentucky Today. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Western Recorder: A long-time friend

By: French D. Harmon, Phd

It is hard to imagine Kentucky Baptist life without the Western Recorder. We realize change is part of life, but losing this treasure is difficult.

I am truly thankful every morning when Kentucky Today arrives in my inbox, but it was the Western Recorder (WR) that gave me insight and context as I grew up in ministry. We have adapted to this new online news service, but please allow me to share four personal reflections on the Western Recorder.

1. Values. The Western Recorder — in both its newsprint and magazine formats — provided much-needed biblical perspective on matters of faith. The articles I read often reminded of the need to respond to our Lord's teaching. I recall reading an inspirational editorial that challenged me to build character and Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). There were times I didn't fully agree with a WR opinion piece, but that is part of being in the Southern Baptist Convention family. It was so great to have a state newspaper that served the interest of congregations all over Kentucky.

2. Victories. For several years, two of the churches I pastored used the back page for our weekly newsletter. It allowed for our members to experience the spiritual victories of our church, individuals and congregations across the commonwealth. Proverbs 21:31 tells us, "Victory belongs to the Lord." Seeing items in print allowed members to spur on their friends to grow in their walk with the Lord and be encouraged by members of the body of Christ. It has been a great tool for local church leaders.

3. Virtues. I grew up during the SBC era that featured programming and allowed congregations to focus on consistent teaching from the Sunday School Board, church training materials, evangelistic outreaches and passionate preaching. The Western Recorder encouraged believers to be a faithful part of their church. I was regularly reminded of Philippians 4:8, and to "think on things" that are true, honorable, just, commendable, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy. To me, the Western Recorder promoted denominational unity which I felt was very important in my growth as a Christian.

4. Voices. I got to know Baptist leaders and laypersons through articles in the Western Recorder. When I recall the notable editors, pastors, seminary, mission and denominational leaders, it actually points to what the future could be. The late John Bisagno stated, "Jesus called us to be brothers and sisters and not identical twins." John 15:12 tells us, "This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I loved you." Today, let our Baptist voices be inviting and loving as a watching world needs Jesus.

Recently, I walked through the space previously used by the Western Recorder staff. There was an old typewriter, a plaque in memory of C.R. Daley — but then I saw the stack of newspapers going back to the 1800s. I then realized how many people were touched by the Western Recorder.

Farewell, old friend. I already miss your values, victories, virtues and voices.

Thank you.

French Harmon is president of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation.

The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.