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The Southern Baptist Convention posted its highest number of baptisms in four years, reversing a trend of years of decline, according to The Tennessean. The largest Protestant denomination in the country reported 349,737 baptisms last year, a jump of 7,539 from 2008.

"We've tried to focus on getting outside the four walls of the church," said Steve Freeman, pastor of Grace Baptist, about 30 miles north of Nashville, Tenn. "We're taking the gospel to where the people are."

The research, compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources, showed that baptisms and church attendance increased, but donations and church membership decreased last year.

"I look at the number of people we are reaching in baptism and the people who are sitting in the pews, rather than membership," said Frank Page, vice president of evangelization for the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. "To have more people coming to church, at a time when church attendance is dropping, is good news." [, 5/19/10]

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