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 (www.kybaptistfoundation.org/donate) 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


By: FRENCH HARMON

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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Echo Chambers


By: French B. Harmon

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: For it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes…” Romans 1:16

Over the years I have watched many of our gospel conversations remain inside the friendly walls of the church. It seems that casual Christianity is alive and well in the American church. The trouble is that many believers are more interested in winning ecclesiastical debates than evangelizing the community. Perhaps our echo chambers are keeping the gospel from changing our communities.

Here are four suggestions to truly get the “Gospel to Every Home.”

1. Don’t let your social media comments ruin your witness. Sadly, many of our brothers and sisters are very concerned about winning the political, social or philosophical debate but loose the opportunity to share a gospel conversation. Remember the words of Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Examine your social media habits and make it a positive expression of your faith.

2. Engage your community. As a pastor, each staff member was encouraged to have a community ministers. I coached baseball and basketball in local schools which opened many doors to share my faith. My wife Rachael was also very involved as a volunteer in each school which allowed for additional engagement with families. Be creative and host quality events in your home, church or local park. People need the love that comes from Christ (John 3:16).

3. Be bold. When I read Romans 10:13 it seems clear, “For whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The boldness needed for these times should be gospel-centered. What the church doesn't need is for believers to center conversations on personal opinions, political views or divisive social matters without presenting the gospel. Unfortunately many “life groups” can deteriorate into personal merely discussions sessions without the salt and light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Be bold and present the gospel.

4. Old school and new school strategies. I really think it's time to stop criticizing methodologies and become evangelism cheerleaders. D.T. Niles said evangelism is “One beggar telling another where to find bread.” Old school strategies work—Visitation, revivals, youth, children's and outreach evangelism programs are awesome. New school initiatives—gospel conversations, concerts, adopting schools and sports evangelism works. I am for both old and new gospel- sharing strategies.

Our Association Mission Strategists provide great leadership for churches in our Kentucky Baptist Convention. Schedule a meeting with your local associational missionary and develop strategies to reach your community. Let's commit ourselves to not merely talk in our echo chambers but really do the work of evangelism.

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.




Tuesday, January 26, 2021

COVID-19 makes me cherish LIFE


By: French B. Harmon, PhD

Recently I preached the funeral of my wife’s Rachael 92 year-old grandmother Marie Childers. It was as a beautiful, socially distanced gathering, that allowed only a limited number of participants. The graveside funeral featured heartfelt music, the reading of sacred scripture, personal reflections and a gospel message. The family was not able to receive guests as you would during normal conditions.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 23: 4 “Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” The family experienced this comfort as COVID19 restrictions did not allow personal visits to Mrs. Childers for many months. It was certainly a long goodbye but assisted by God’s very present help. Life is should be cherished even when times are challenging.

This experience with Mrs. Childers taught me:

1. God is the author of Life. Each person is precious in the eyes of God. We are thankful for the skilled health workers, and especially those that cared for Mrs. Childers during these unprecedented times. Acts 17:25 reminds us that God “gives all life and breath.” Each breath we take is a gift from the Lord at every stage of life.

2. Nothing is a surprise to God. COVID19 took me, and seemingly the whole world, by surprise. However, God wasn’t overtake by this pandemic. He is with us and will help us through these times. I am very thankful for the researchers working hard to find a vaccine for this virus. Let's remember to intentional pray for those conducting this research and claim the promise found in James 1:5-- “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”

3. Family matters. During these moments at the graveside, many memories with Marie and our family came to mind. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are such important times for families to gather and be as one. This year was different. Celebrating and being thankful to God for His blessings are central for each believer. The pandemic caused us to shelter in place for extended periods of time with our families. Count this as a real blessing.

4. Heaven changes everything. Marie is now in the presence of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 5:8 the Bible reaffirms the reality of a deceased Christian by stating, “To be absent from the body but present with the Lord.” Yes, heaven is real! No more pain, disease or suffering. While there were tears from each family member present we claimed this precious promise from God. I strongly encourage church leaders to provide biblical teaching on heaven and what Jesus said in John 14:1-6.

I urge each follower of our Lord to be careful during this season. The church is essential in helping this world deal with COVID-19 and the many physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges it brings. I now understand the heartbreak many people have felt in loosing a loved one during this pandemic. Let LOVE LIFE! 

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.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Christmas Traditions


By: French B. Harmon, PhD


One of the traditions I enjoyed as a pastor was leading the church in a Christmas Eve worship service. It was similar in every church--sing a few carols, preach a message, share in the Lord's supper and then the lighting of individual candles. To conclude, we would hold our candles and sing "Silent Night." Just reflecting on this brings back great memories (see photo).

One area that evolved was a discussion on receiving of an offering in that service. For sure, this would be one of the larger services each year and members are inclined to give. As a staff, we also knew that many families had several stops to make that evening. A leadership meeting was held to discuss shortening the service and direct people to give in designated boxes upon exiting and thus save a few minutes in the worship service. What followed was a wonderful theological discussion.

J--"Jesus" is the focus of worship. Worshippers should to hear a message of faith, hope and love that comes through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
O--"Others" is the mission of worship. Members in the church need to hear the gospel imperative to reach their world for Christ through evangelism.
Y--"You" should be changed in true worship. When people "hear" the gospel message it challenges all to be more like Him. Believers should grow in their discipleship with Christ.

Upon reflection of these truths, the congregations I pastored received an offering during the Christmas Eve service. Many would joyfully give their tithes and additional offerings during that service. Others would be challenged to share their financial blessings and assist in helping the less fortunate. All would given the opportunity to reflect upon the birth and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One snowy Christmas Eve, I arrived early at Fort Mitchell Baptist Church to prepare for our candlelight service. A person in need knocked on the door. I answered the door and then heard the personal story of this struggling young man. It was almost time for the service so I encouraged him to join us.

By God's grace, he sat next to a beloved member that was spiritually sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Upon passing the offering plate, Sandra Strunk befriended the guest and showed him the love that comes from a relationship with Christ. That young man received more than expected when the "plate was passed" in that special service. Later that night he would receive Jesus Christ as savior!

I realize that the COVID19 pandemic might restrict us from certain traditions--passing the offering plates, sitting close in the pews and perhaps even sharing in candlelight services. What it can't change is the J.O.Y. of giving.

Give Jesus your "TIME"
Give Jesus your "TALENTS"
Give Jesus your "TREASURE"

The Kentucky Baptist Foundation stands ready to assist you in making legacy and permanent gifts to assist your church or related Baptist institutions and agencies that will truly bring joy for eternity. Merry Christmas from your KBF staff.

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.