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Nation’s oldest church planter? Age no deterrent for 89-year-old Donald Voyles in starting one of Georgia’s newest congregations

Donald Voyles stands in front of Mt. Tabor Community Baptist Church in Dallas, Ga., on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. (Index/Roger Alford)
DALLAS, Ga. — In a classy blue suit, striped tie, and starched white shirt, Donald Voyles has the look of a man who has just stepped out of the board room of a Fortune 500 company. He’s every whit the professional, from his freshly trimmed white hair to his newly polished back shoes. At 89, Voyles may not fit the stereotypical mold of the modern church planter, but the Adrian Rogers-look is paying dividends for a congregation birthed from a back-porch Bible study at his home in suburban Atlanta four years ago.
Willie Thomas Edmondson
Obituary: Georgia pastor Willie Edmondson remembered as legend, warrior, trailblazer
LaGRANGE, Ga. — Georgia pastor Willie Thomas Edmondson is being remembered as a “legend" and a “warrior” as well as a “trailblazer” who served people not only from his church but also from city hall. Edmonson died Friday. In addition to being pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in West Point, Edmondson also served as mayor of LaGrange.
Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow speaks during last year's annual meeting at the Church on Main in Snellville, Ga. (Index/Henry Durand)
Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow: 'Evangelism is the most talked about and least practiced discipline'
CONYERS, Ga. — Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow is hoping for a big turnout for a pair of evangelism conferences, the first of which begins on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Conyers. “The evangelism conferences help us to grow, to be equipped and to be inspired,” Saefkow said. “A big part of these conferences is to be inspired to go and tell others about Jesus.” Georgia Baptists are going into this year’s conferences with an obvious zeal for sharing the gospel. They’re reporting a 30% increase in baptisms over the past year and a more than 92% increase since 2020.
The sun rises over the Shorter University campus on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (Photo/Donald Dowless)
Sunrise over Shorter University
Shorter University President Donald Dowless captured the beauty of a late-winter sunrise  on Tuesday.  Shorter University, founded in 1873, is a Southern Baptist school in Rome, Ga.
The rendering of the proposed new worship center for Prince Avenue.
Prince Avenue Baptist Church’s growth calls for a new, larger worship center
BOGART, Ga., — When Josh Smith became pastor of Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Bogart six years ago after 11 years at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, he succeeded Pastor Bill Ricketts, who had served the church for 43 years. Ricketts had relocated the church from downtown Athens to Bogart, a growing community approximately seven miles west of Athens. The church was poised for growth, but it would take the right kind of pastor to lead the church to its greatest destiny.
Jimmy Blanton smiles during a celebration honoring his 25 years leading the Columbus Baptist Association. (Photo/CBA)
Jimmy Blanton to retire as Columbus Baptist Association missionary
COLUMBUS, Ga. – In January, Jimmy Blanton announced his retirement as the missionary of the Columbus Baptist Association by saying, “I realize that the association does not need a new mission, but it does need a new voice, a new vision, and a new missionary.”
Baptist Life

Aspiring teenage preacher who baptized baseball teammates in Georgia to play at The Citadel

Robbie Lane poses in a baseball uniform from The Citadel. The Georgia junior college shortstop has committed to play at the Division I school.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — An aspiring young preacher and baseball player who baptized most of his teammates at a Georgia junior college last fall has committed to play for The Citadel beginning next season. Robbie Lane, the starting shortstop at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, Ga., described being recruited to play for the Division I school in Charleston as a dream come true.
Shorter University has a history of training quality pianists, and to continue this training, the music department has started the Piano Program Project. This project was started in 2019 as a three-phase project.
CRESTVIEW, Fla. — Military servicemembers face the brokenness of the world in a way few others do, says Noah Clifton, who is planting Pillar Church of Crestview alongside Alex Chatman in Crestview, Florida. On top of that, the number of deployments, exercises, operations and trainings that call a member out of the home puts families in what Marine and church planter Alex Chatman calls “a pressure cooker.”
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — In a statement posted on Wednesday, Send Relief leaders reaffirmed the relief organization’s commitment, announced in June 2022, to provide up to $3 million in funds for the Southern Baptist Convention’s efforts in sexual abuse prevention and response and compassionate care for survivors, but clarified the funds would not be used to fund an organization outside the SBC.
When the box of Kleenex’s fell behind the dryer, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Knowing that it would be a fire hazard to leave it, I shimmied up on the dryer as best as a 61-year-old woman could to retrieve it.  My arms were not long enough.  “I will get it,” my beloved called from the other room.  But I didn’t want him to. I wanted to do it myself.  I always have to have help.  Surely, I could just do this alone.
Georgia
A sign for the University of Georgia is seen, May 28, 2004, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Allen Sullivan, File)

University of Georgia cancels classes after woman found dead on campus

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — A woman was found dead Thursday on the campus of the University of Georgia after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run, authorities said. The woman was not a student at the university, the school's police chief said. Police Chief Jeff Clark did not provide details on how the woman died, citing the ongoing investigation.

Jimmy Carter becomes first living ex-president with official White House Christmas ornament

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter has another distinction to his name. The 99-year-old is the first U.S. president to be honored with an official White House Christmas ornament while still living. The ornament was unveiled Wednesday and is the latest in an annual series that the nonprofit White House Historical Association began issuing in 1981, the year Carter left office.

Attorneys for Georgia slave descendants urge judge not to throw out their lawsuit over island zoning

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Attorneys suing a Georgia county over zoning changes that they say threaten one of the South's last Gullah-Geechee communities of Black slave descendants asked a judge Tuesday to let them correct technical problems with their civil complaint to avoid having it dismissed.

State representative Houston not running for reelection to Georgia House

ATLANTA – Longtime state Rep. Penny Houston announced Tuesday that she will not seek reelection this year. Houston, R-Nashville, has served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 26 years under seven House speakers. She told her House colleagues she wants to spend more time with her family.
Nation
This image provided by Intuitive Machines shows its Odysseus lunar lander over the near side of the moon following lunar orbit insertion on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (Intuitive Machines via AP)

Private lander makes first US moon landing in more than 50 years, but signal weak

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A private lander on Thursday made the first U.S. touchdown on the moon in more than 50 years, but managed just a weak signal back as flight controllers scrambled to gain better contact. Despite the spotty communication, Intuitive Machines, the company that built and managed the craft, confirmed that it had landed. There was no immediate word from the company on the condition — or even the exact location — of the lander. The company ended its live webcast soon after confirming a touchdown.

4 men captured during operation in which 2 SEALs died are charged in transporting suspected Iranian-made weapons

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Four foreign nationals were arrested and charged Thursday with transporting suspected Iranian-made weapons on a vessel intercepted by U.S. naval forces in the Arabian Sea last month. Two Navy SEALs died during the mission.

China plans to send San Diego Zoo more pandas this year, reintroducing panda diplomacy

SAN DIEGO (AP) — China plans to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, renewing its longstanding gesture of friendship toward the United States after a recalling nearly all the iconic bears on loan to U.S. zoos as relations soured between the two nations.

Private US spacecraft enters orbit around the moon ahead of landing attempt

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A private U.S. lunar lander reached the moon and eased into a low orbit Wednesday, a day before it will attempt an even greater feat — landing on the gray, dusty surface. A smooth touchdown would put the U.S. back in business on the moon for the first time since NASA astronauts closed out the Apollo program in 1972. The company, if successful, also would become the first private outfit to ace a moon landing.
World
Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, gives a video message. (Navalny Team via AP, File)

Yulia Navalnaya, who once avoided the limelight, is Russia’s newest opposition leader

LONDON (AP) — Yulia Navalnaya used to avoid the cameras, staying in the background while her husband, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, rose to become President Vladimir Putin’s greatest foe. But following his death in prison last week, she stepped onto a stage normally reserved for senior politicians in Munich and vowed that Putin and his allies would be brought to justice over his death.

Desperate for soldiers, Ukraine weighs unpopular plan to expand the draft

LYMAN, Ukraine (AP) — When the Russian army mounted a full-scale invasion two years ago, Ukrainian men zealously rushed to recruitment centers across the country to enlist, ready to die in defense of their nation. Today, with Russia in control of roughly one-quarter of Ukraine and the two armies virtually deadlocked along a 620-mile front line, that spirit to enlist has faded: Many Ukrainian men are evading the draft by hiding at home or trying to bribe their way out of the battle.

Suspected Houthi rebel missile sets cargo ship ablaze as Israel intercepts separate attack near Eilat

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A suspected missile attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels set a ship ablaze in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday as Israel intercepted what appeared to be another Houthi attack near the port city of Eilat, authorities said. The attacks come as the rebels escalate their assaults over Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A young man dies as clashes erupt between police and protesting farmers in India

SHAMBHU, India (AP) — Clashes between farmers and police in India left one protester dead Wednesday as the farmers resumed their march to the capital after talks with the government failed to end an impasse over their demands for guaranteed crop prices. Indian farmers began their protest march last week but were stopped some 125 miles from New Delhi as police fired rounds of tear gas.
Perspectives
​George Barnard Shaw said, “There are two sources of unhappiness in life. One is not getting what you want; the other is getting it.” America is obsessed with success. We work hard to get what we want. From the early days of our youth, competing is encouraged to reach number one, whether it’s winning the spelling bee or ranking at the top of our class. Setting our minds on a goal and pressing until we reach that goal makes us a success, we think. Success is a destination.
What do Baptists consider to be an appropriate age for baptism? The answer to the question varies and will surprise those who assume that there is a prescribed tradition, set in stone, carefully and meticulously passed down from generation to generation. Two hundred years ago it was rare for anyone to be baptized who was not considered an “adult.”
We are about to examine what James Montgomery Boice and many other Biblical scholars declare is “the most difficult portion of the entire Bible,” recorded in Romans 9:13 (quoting Malachi 1:2-3) where God emphatically says:  “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau!”
My very first date with my husband was on Valentine’s Day in 1974. We were both in the 10th grade at the same high school. He was a basketball player and I was a cheerleader. I won’t say I fell in love with him on the first date, which by the way was at the circus, but I did enjoy his company and considered that there might be potential for a relationship there. He, on the other hand, told me he was going to marry me on our first date!
I began teaching a course on organizational leadership this past week at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. One of the goals of the course is to demonstrate how organizational leadership can promote human flourishing. What an encouraging possibility for those in leadership to think that they can contribute not only to the advancement of a mission, but also to the well-being of the people they lead.  
Business
An AT&T retail location in Willow Grove, Pa., Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

AT&T says the outage to its US cellphone network was not caused by a cyberattack

AT&T said the hourslong outage to its U.S. cellphone network Thursday appeared to be the result of a technical error, not a malicious attack. The outage knocked out cellphone service for thousands of its users across the U.S. starting early Thursday before it was restored. AT&T blamed the incident on an error in coding, without elaborating.

Americans reporting nationwide cellular outages from AT&T, Cricket Wireless and other providers

A number of Americans are dealing with cellular outages on AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile and other service providers, according to data from Downdetector. AT&T had more than 64,000 outages this morning, in locations including Houston, Atlanta and Chicago.

Boeing ousts head of 737 jetliner program weeks after panel blowout on a flight over Oregon

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing said Wednesday that the head of its 737 jetliner program is leaving the company in an executive shake-up weeks after a door panel blew out on a flight over Oregon, renewing questions about safety at the company. Boeing announced that Ed Clark, who had been with the company for nearly 18 years and led the 737 program since early 2021, was leaving immediately.

Robots and happy workers: Productivity surge helps explain US economy's surprising resilience

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trying to keep up with customer demand, Batesville Tool & Die began seeking 70 people to hire last year. It wasn't easy. Attracting factory workers to a community of 7,300 in the Indiana countryside was a tough sell, especially having to compete with big-name manufacturers nearby like Honda and Cummins Engine.

Home Depot's strong fourth quarter overshadowed by weakening sales and expectations for 2024

Home Depot's sales continued to fade during the fourth quarter as the country's largest home improvement retailer feels the impact of high mortgage rates and inflation on its customers. While quarterly results topped Wall Street expectations, the company's sales expectations for this year weighed on shares early. Shares slipped more than 2% before the opening bell Tuesday. Rival Lowe’s, which reports fourth-quarter earnings next week, fell more than 2%.
Sports
Truett McConnell's EJ Smith in action. (Photo/TMU)

Truett McConnell beats St. Andrews 94-75 on senior day

CLEVELAND, Ga. — On Wednesday, the Truett McConnell University men's basketball team hosted St. Andrews University for an Appalachian Athletic Conference match-up, where the Bears recorded a big win over the Knights, 94-75. TMU rises to an overall score of 11-16, 9-14 AAC, while SAU falls to a record of 5-20, 3-20 AAC.

Thomasson scores 17 in Georgia's strong start, Bulldogs topple Vanderbilt 76-64

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Noah Thomasson scored 17 points, all in the first half, Jabri Abdur-Rahim added 13 points and Georgia rolled past Vanderbilt 76-64 on Wednesday night. Georgia's 16-point halftime lead was trimmed to 11 before Justin Hill scored five points and Blue Cain hit a 3-pointer in a 12-0 run that put the Bulldogs up 63-40 near the 11-minute mark.

William Byron launches Hendrick Motorsports' 40th anniversary season with win in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The goal was obvious to William Byron: put the No. 24 Chevrolet in victory lane in the 2024 Daytona 500 to launch Hendrick Motorsports' 40th anniversary season. Mission accomplished, even if Byron had to complete an agonizing final lap under caution around Daytona International Speedway awaiting the winner to be declared.

Rain pushes Daytona 500 to Monday in first outright postponement since 2012

NASCAR has postponed the season-opening Daytona 500 until Monday because of two days of rain at Daytona International Speedway.