THE BAPTIST STUDIES BULLETIN

"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"

May 2004                 Vol. 3  No. 5

Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University

Walter B. Shurden, Executive Director and Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Bruce T. Gourley, Associate Director, The Center for Baptist Studies

Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Robert Richardson, Coordinator, Mercer Certificate Program in Baptist Studies

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

 

I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "Tacky, Tacky, Tacky"

The Baptist Soapbox: Bruce T. Gourley

         "BWA Withdrawal Part of SBC Leaders' Anti-Baptist Agenda"

Emails from Baptists around the World: Franciso "Paco" Rhodes

         "Baptists in Cuba"

Baptists, the Bible, and the Poor: Charles E. Poole

         "The Most Difficult Word for Baptists To Say"

The Baptist Spirit: Strengths and Challenges: Charles Deweese

         "Freedom Themes in Baptist Origins"

Church and State Issues: Hollyn Hollman

         "History Doesn't Justify State-Sponsored Prayer at Public Schools" 

Helpful Baptist Websites: Greg Thompson

         "Baptist History and Heritage"     

A Note to Our Readers: Walter B. Shurden

            

 

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I Believe

"Tacky, Tacky, Tacky"

By Walter B. Shurden

 

I believe . . .

            that God's people have a long, long history of compassion, Christ-likeness and fairness. But, on the other hand, God's people can be tacky, can't we?

            Will Campbell, the inimitable and eccentric Baptist from my home state of Mississippi, has ended up on the right side of most moral issues throughout his ministry. As I've heard the story (all "Will" stories, like much of the Bible, are true even if they never happened!), Will once debated another Christian minister at Florida State University on the issue of capital punishment. Will took his usual minority position. He was opposed. The other guy got up first. He harangued and hollered about evil people and the need for killing them. When it came Will's turn to speak, he waited for a few minutes in his chair, finally got up, hobbled to the microphone and, after a long pause, said, "Tacky, tacky, tacky." He turned and went back to his chair. At times, "tacky, tacky, tacky" is enough of a Christian speech!
           A debate is brewing in Floyd County Baptist Association in Rome, Georgia, over whether an autonomous Baptist church can have a female as a co-pastor. North Broad Baptist Church, exercising their Baptist privilege, called Katrina and Tony Brooks as co-pastors some time back. And now the Floyd County Baptist Association wants to hang the 2000 noose of the Baptist Faith and Message around the churches of the association in order to have a reason to exclude North Broad from the association. You will recall that the fundamentalist leadership of the SBC led the SBC to revise the Statement of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 so as to creedalize it and, therefore, to be able to exclude churches who have female pastors. "Tacky, tacky, tacky."

           When the Floyd County Baptist Association flexes its confused orthodox and biblical muscles to save God's kingdom from the onslaught of a female pastor, it is altogether within its legal rights. Like North Broad Baptist Church, the association is autonomous and self-governing. Baptist associations have the legal right to exclude churches on the basis of ANY criteria they wish. But legal authority is neither as powerful nor as Christian as moral authority.
           Beyond North Broad Baptist Church's legal authority, an authority rooted in Baptist history and polity to call whom they please to be pastor, that church additionally has the moral authority on its side of acting Christ-like. Apartheid in South Africa and slavery and segregation in America were all legal; they were also all immoral. Baptist associations can act both legally and immorally at the same time. They quite often have done so in Baptist history. By the way, who can name the last time a Baptist association acted prophetically in Baptist life?

          When the Floyd County Baptist Association takes its pathetic little stand for so-called biblical righteousness, what can we say but "tacky, tacky, tacky." And I have a prediction: within less than a hundred years, this association, others like it, and the SBC will act toward women in ministry the way the SBC fortunately acted toward African Americans a few years back - they will repent! They will repent of acting legally but immorally.

          But the leadership of the Floyd County Baptist Association does not have a monopoly on Baptist life in Georgia, even today. The same week I read about the action of the Floyd County Baptist Association, I worshipped at my home church, The First Baptist Church of Christ at Macon, Georgia (I love the name!), on Sunday morning, May 2. Sandra Adams read the scripture. Of the twenty deacons who walked up and down the aisles of our church and choir, serving bread and cup to remind us whose we are and why, ten of them were named Susan Broome, Mary Jane Johnson, Connie Jones (our church's chair of deacons), Maxine Keoughan, Caroline Kicklighter, Carolyn Martin, Suzy McCullough, Beverly Penley, Elaine Vasquez, and Doris Williams. The ten male deacons graciously served alongside them. "Classy! Classy! Classy!"

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Baptist Soapbox

The Baptist Soapbox: Invited guests speak up and out on things Baptist (therefore, the views expressed in this space are not necessarily those of The Baptist Studies Bulletin, though sometimes they are). Climbing upon the Soapbox this month is the new Associate Director of the Center for Baptist Studies, Bruce T. Gourley.  I will say more about Bruce in a paragraph below.

 

"BWA Withdrawal Part of SBC Leaders' Anti-Baptist Agenda"

By Bruce T. Gourley

            In October, the fundamentalist leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention quietly decided to pull the SBC out of the Baptist World Alliance. In December, they made their decision public, citing liberalism within the BWA. The BWA promptly refuted the charge of liberalism, exposing the lies of Southern Baptist leaders. Baptist leaders from Russia, Poland, Romania, Great Britain, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Bulgaria, South Africa, Ukraine, Italy, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and other Latin American nations, not to mention the United States, have publicly criticized the Southern Baptist Convention.
          
To longtime observers of the twenty-five year fundamentalist makeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, the departure from the BWA comes as no surprise. Southern Baptists' fundamentalist leaders have long been marching the SBC out the door of Baptist life and onto the threshold of their own little kingdom. Core Baptist principles are systematically being discarded in place of policies designed to shore up the new fundamentalist order. The Priesthood of all Believers has been dismantled and replaced with strict pastoral authority. Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State have been jettisoned in favor of the myth of America as a Christian nation. The Authority of Scripture has been buried under layers of creedalism, of which the frosting on the cake is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Faith in Christ alone now plays second fiddle to homage to the BF&M 2000. Local Church Autonomy has been rejected in favor of Roman Catholic-like, hierarchical conformity.
          
In short, Southern Baptists' fundamentalist leaders have been intentionally dismantling the "Baptist" in Southern Baptist Convention for more than two decades. In its place they have been crafting a southern coalition of inerrantist-spouting, right-wing Republican Party-loyal evangelicals which now reaches throughout the nation. This far-reaching coalition which the SBC is morphing into has one central goal: to save the world by regulating family life and purifying doctrine, an agenda outlined last summer in the Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative (http://www.sbc.net/ekg). Read the EKG materials closely on the website, and you will notice that it is a global, non-denominational initiative designed to lead theologically and politically conservative evangelicals in creating a male-dominated, fundamentalist Christian world order. In light of EKG, there simply is no place at the table for the diverse, spiritually-minded, servant-oriented Baptist World Alliance.
          Guilty of ongoing, blatant violations of the Ten Commandments and Jesus' own commands, SBC leaders' claims of purity ring hollow. Furthermore, SBC leaders have no interest in being "Baptist." Their commitment is to their own agenda, their loyalty to their own kingdom. And although the BWA will be better off without dictatorial SBC leadership, millions of Southern Baptists in the pews, deceived by the lies of their leaders, are blindly being led away from the Baptist faith into religious-political legalism. It is only right that Baptists throughout the world stand up in protest of the lies and deception. But in the end, it is only biblical that the Baptist World Alliance refuse to betray the legacy of Baptists by embracing the false gospel of legalism.

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Baptist Emails

Emails From Baptists Around the World: An Email on Baptists in Cuba Today.  Francisco "Paco" Rhodes, who wrote this article, directs Baptist Studies and teaches Latin American Church History at the ecumenical Evangelical Seminary in Matanzas, Cuba.  With a D. Min. from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA, he is responsible for theological education in the Fraternity of Cuban Baptist Churches.

 

"The Baptists in Cuba"
By Francisco "Paco" Rhodes

 

The beginnings:

          The presence of the Baptists in Cuba can be traced back to the year of 1886. The first believers were baptized during the night on the Havana shore. Under the energetic leadership of Alberto J. Díaz, they organized the Gethsemane Baptist Church. In those times the country was under the colonial Spaniard domination, and the majority of the Baptists, included Alberto J. Diaz, were sympathizers or collaborators with the patriot party.
          In fact, when the liberation war erupted, Díaz was imprisoned, and sentenced to be shot. The intervention of the US authorities prevented his execution and he was exiled to Florida. After the end of the war in 1898, he returned and found that the Church had survived the troubles of the war. The Americans governed the country for four years, and this provided opportunity for the American missionary agencies to enter Cuba. But much of the authority and power became concentrated in the hands of the missionaries. The patriotism of Díaz caused tensions with the missionaries, and eventually he quit the Baptist ranks.

Development:

          The Baptists missionaries from America brought to Cuba the existing divisions among Baptists in the Unites States. The Southern Baptist Convention occupied the western part of the island through the Home Mission Board. The Northern Baptist Convention took the eastern area. While the Baptist churches of Cuba did not increase rapidly in the twentieth century, the churches stabilized and reached most of the towns and cities. The Eastern Convention put special emphasis on educational ministry and rural work, planting many peasant churches, including the constituency of rural immigrant workers such as the Haitians and Jamaicans. When the ecumenical movement emerged in the forties, the eastern Baptists were among the most enthusiastic. 
          The Western Baptist Convention established an aggressive evangelistic program, conducted to gain the most industrial cities and the middle classes. Both conventions organized their own seminaries, summer camps, and publications, developing strong institutional identities.
          In the decade of the forties the Free Will Baptists started their work in Cuba, mainly in the extreme provinces of the west. Their growth has been gradual, but they have established some rural churches and a seminary.

The Revolution of 1959:

         The Revolution in 1959 created a crisis for Cuban Baptists. When the socialistic ideology of the Cuban revolutionary leaders became public and the conflict with the US government followed, more than the seventy percent of the Baptist pastors of the Western Convention opted for exile in Florida. Many Church members of the western churches left as well. However, the majority of the Baptists in the east remained in Cuba.
         The evangelical churches in Cuba were unprepared for the challenge of such radical social change. Tensions with the new government increased. The introduction of dogmatic Marxist manuals from the Soviet Union, containing an antireligious outlook, made dialogue between Baptists and the new political forces much more difficult. The tendency among the evangelicals, including the Baptists, was to insulate themselves within the walls of the Church. Defending themselves against the accusation of being an institution allied with the American government, evangelicals sought with difficulty to survive.
         The decade of the seventies brought a more relaxed trend in Church-State relations. It was clear that the churches were not to be closed, in spite of the discrimination. The facilities of the churches were respected. The 1974 constitution of Cuba endorsed religious freedom under some limitations.  

Emerging new answers:

        A new generation of Baptist believers faced the challenges of the time with new vision.  The impact of the sixties, with the Martin Luther King assassination, the awakening of a social conscience among many Christians around the world, and the appearance of the liberation movement in Latin American, could not be ignored by Baptist youth in Cuba. So in 1974 a movement emerged created by students and young pastors from both Conventions. Called the Coordination of Baptist Workers and Students, it focused on the social responsibility of the Christians.
        The new generation needed to be nurtured with a theology that could equip them for a positive presence in the society and the world. This movement had its highlight in the Summer Camp for the Social Responsibility of the Christian, a gathering that brought together hundreds of young people to reflect on and discuss the Christian's role in social changes. The combination of biblical reflection on the one hand and dialogue with the Marxist on the other resulted in a change of mind among the communists.
        This new attitude laid the foundation for the emergence of the Fraternity of Cuban Baptist Churches (1989). The fraternity brought a renewed style to the churches. This renewed style sought to incarnate in the middle of the Cuban culture an autonomous church, open both to the ecumenical movement, the affirmation of women's rights to ordination, and to liturgical renewal.

Another Challenge:

        The last decade of the twentieth century brought to the world unexpected events. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialistic system in Eastern Europe pulled the small island of Cuba into a dramatic crisis. The unparalleled economic situation had the effect of a devastating earthquake, imposing daring challenges. The country was alone in a world of competition, with an increasing hostility from the US administration.
       
A depressed feeling of hopelessness dominated many of the Cubans, and they did not envision any future. Many talented young people opted for emigration. The churches assumed the diakonic spirit of service, offering humanitarian assistance and calling for solidarity in world. Especially important was the collaboration of the churches in ministry in the fields of medicine and food. 
       
The changes in the Constitution of 1991 eliminated all kind of religious discrimination, and opened unimaginable opportunities for the spreading of the gospel. The people of the nation were thirsty for inspiration and hope, and they began returning to the several religions in the country.  Places of worship became packed with new believers. The Baptists and Pentecostals grew the most among the Christian churches. Thousands of new places of worship were opened, including houses, garages and yards.  During the nineties the membership among evangelicals increased two hundred percent.
       
This huge wave of new people into the churches brought great enthusiasm, but they were without any Christian background. As one would expect, this situation offered challenges and opportunities but also risks. The opportunity today is to build a new Church without the hostility of the past. The danger, however, is that the new religious enthusiasm may be void of a deep biblical and  theological foundation, thus becoming the spawning ground for all kinds of religious deviations.
        We pray for the best.

The following information describes the size of the four Baptists groups in Cuba:

Western Baptist Convention

Churches .........................      205
Membership.....................  17000
Missions................................ 300
Seminary students.................    40
(Baptist Seminary in Havana) 

Eastern Baptist Convention

Churches............................    295
Membership....................   23000
Missions............................   1000
Seminary students...............      60
(Baptist Seminary in Santiago de Cuba) 

Free Will Baptists

Churches................................  36
Membership........................ 2000
Seminary Students.................   12
(FreeWill Baptist Seminary in La Palma)

Fraternity of Cuban Baptist Churches

Churches..............................    31
Membership.........................4000
Missions..............................     66
Seminary Students.................   15
(In Evangelical Seminary of Matanzas and the Biblical University of Costa Rica)
 

Bibliography

Marco Antonio Ramos,   Panorama del Protestantismo en Cuba, Miami, Editorial Caribe, 1986.  

 

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Baptists Bible and Poor

Baptists, The Bible, and the Poor: Charles E. Poole is a Baptist minister with Lifeshare Community Ministries out of Jackson, Mississippi where he delights in ministering alongside the poor. "Chuck" Poole, a provocative preacher and servant pastor, served Baptist churches for twenty-five years. Among the churches he has served are First Baptist Church, Macon, GA, First Baptist Church, Washington, DC, and Northminster Baptist Church, Jackson, MS.

"The Most Difficult Word for Baptists to Say"
By Charles E. Poole        

        "Enough is so vast a sweetness, I suppose it never occurs." Rarely has the pervasive problem of discontentment been captured more clearly than it is in that sentence from Emily Dickinson. "Enough" can be a hard word to say. "I have enough." "Our life is comfortable enough." "Our things are nice enough." Syllables such as those can be hard to pronounce. The Belle of Amherst was right: "Enough is so vast a sweetness, I suppose it never occurs."
        Of course, it might help if the church would lead the way. Individual believers might stand a better chance of growing into Christian contentment if the church would lead the way by saying something shocking, such as, "The buildings we have are big enough." "The facilities we own are nice enough." "The parking we use is convenient enough." Then, at least, people would have an example of contentment from which to learn.
        And what does all that have to do with "Baptists, The Bible and The Poor?"  Baptist churches keep spending millions upon millions of dollars on church facilities because we think that what we have isn't nice enough or big enough to draw a crowd and keep a crowd.  (Isn't it odd that we actually think we need convenient and comfortable facilities to attract people to a gospel that calls them to deny themselves and take up a cross?) And while churches keep building bigger buildings, school kids try to do homework in houses where the lights keep getting turned off and adults keep losing jobs because they can't get transportation, and families in other nations keep burying babies who have starved to death.
        I know the standard Baptist answer to all the above: "But if we build bigger, nicer buildings we'll get more folks in and that will enable us to give more to what really matters."  But the truth is, not really. What really happens is that bigger, nicer buildings bring bigger, nicer utility bills, insurance bills, debt payments, cleaning costs and maintenance expenses. 
        What we need is for Baptist churches to learn how to pronounce that most difficult of all words to say:  "Enough! We are comfortable enough at this church, and we have more important things to do with our money than to make ourselves a little more comfortable a few hours a week.  And anyway, we are Baptists. And Baptists are big on the Bible.  And the Bible says, 'Those who have much should not have too much, so that those who have little will not have too little'  (II Corinthians 8:13-15).'"
        Needless to say, this is not as simple on the street as it is on the page. I have spent twenty-five years as a Baptist pastor resisting bricks and mortar for theological reasons before buying bricks and mortar for practical reasons. It's tough work. On the one hand, you resist the expenditure of church dollars on land and buildings because the church's Lord said, "Sell your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor," which is the opposite of acquiring, obtaining and expanding the church's holdings. On the other hand, incredibly important things happen in church buildings that don't happen anywhere else, making space and place not only significant but sacred.  So, none of this is simple. Here is a small answer, a modest proposal for Baptist churches in a hurting world: Start with the assumption that when it comes to building church buildings, we will do as much as necessary and as little as possible. We will do only what we must, not all that we can, so that when it comes to the poor, we'll have enough money to do all that we can, not just what we must.


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The Baptist Spirit The Baptist Spirit: Strengths and Challenges Charles W. Deweese, Executive Director-Treasurer of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, writes this section of BSB. An articulate and passionate Baptist, He identifies the historic Baptist Spirit in America.
 

"Dimensions of Baptist Sacrifice"

By Charles W. Deweese

King James I released his Bible in 1611. Baptists also released an important writing that year. Titled "A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland," written by Thomas Helwys, this document can be "rightly judged the first English Baptist Confession of Faith," according to church historian William L. Lumpkin - Baptist Confessions of Faith (rev. ed.; Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1969), 115. Lumpkin included this 27-article confession on pages 116-23 of his book. What these first Baptists said about freedom in their first statement of faith can instruct the Baptist experience today.
            The confession's title suggests freedom. A small group of English Separatists had gone to Amsterdam to find and exercise religious liberty. Driven by soul competency and liberty of conscience, this body of Christians chose to become Baptists in 1608-09 by adopting believer's baptism.
            Articles 10, 13, and 14 exhibit the power of voluntarism in believer's baptism and church constitution and membership. The church consists of "faithful people separated from the world by the word & Spirit of GOD being knit unto the LORD, & one unto another, by Baptism. Upon their own confession of the faith and sins." Such baptism "in no wise appertaineth to infants."
           
Articles 11, 19, 20, and 21 express the freedom of the local church to worship, to choose its own officers (including women), and to perform all essential church functions if officers are not present. "Officers are to be chosen . . . by Election and approbation of that Church or congregation whereof they are members." In addition to elders (pastors), the officers also include "Deacons Men, and Women." If a church does not yet have officers or if the church's "Officers should be in Prison, sick, or by any other means hindered from the Church," church members "may and ought, when they are come together, to Pray, Prophesy, break bread, and administer in all the holy ordinances." Calling for the exercise of the priesthood of all believers, this confession shows that ordination is not a requirement for any of these church functions.
           While urging the church to continue on in freedom even if its "Officers should be in Prison," little did Helwys, later the first Baptist pastor in England, know that King James would later put him in prison because of Helwys's powerful defense of religious liberty for all in his masterful work A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity (1612). The freedom impulse among early Baptists often resulted in persecution; ironically, this persecution then fed the freedom impulse.
           Articles 12 and 22 highlight the freedom inherent in local church autonomy. Articles 17-18 affirm the freedom of a church to exercise discipline over its members, including excommunication. Article 23 lays out the freedom (and duty) to search the Scriptures, "for they testify of CHRIST" and contain "the Holie Word of GOD, which only is our direction in all things whatsoever."

NOTE: I have updated the English and eliminated Scripture passages in the quotations.
 

Church And State

Baptists in America and Church State Issues: a column on hot button issues related to religion and government written by K. Hollyn Hollman, General Counsel, The Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.

"History Doesn't Justify State-Sponsored Prayer at Public Schools"

By K. Hollyn Hollman

The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to review a court decision holding the Virginia Military Institute's supper prayers unconstitutional. Virginia's attorney general decried the decision, citing the long tradition of the practice and claiming that such prayers are part of "the fabric of society." The case reminds us that history alone does not determine constitutionality.
            Two cadets had challenged the school's policy of requiring students to stand quietly during an invocation led by a senior student before meals. The practice, at a state-run institution, they argued, violated the Constitution's ban on laws respecting an establishment of religion. Two lower courts agreed, finding that students could not be compelled to participate in state-sponsored religious exercise.
           While the long history of the VMI practice did not save it, the historical argument has some validity in the Court's jurisprudence, at least in a limited context. In the 1983 decision of Marsh v. Chambers, the Supreme Court upheld prayers by a legislative chaplain at the opening session of the Nebraska legislature. The Court noted that Congress has opened its sessions with prayer without interruption for almost 200 years and that a similar practice has been followed for more than a century in Nebraska and many other states. It stated that in light of the history, such practice "has become part of the fabric of our society" and that the First Amendment should not be interpreted to bar the practice. The decision, however, made plain that "historical patterns, standing alone, cannot justify contemporary violations of constitutional guarantees."
         
 Marsh thus does not hold that official prayers in other contexts, such as schools, even those with a longstanding tradition are constitutional. The case has typically been limited to the facts of prayers before legislatures or other governmental forums despite various attempts to characterize challenged religious expressions as being a part of "the fabric of society."
         
 In general, voluntary prayer is constitutional, state-sponsored prayer is not. Still, I know that some will fail to see this important distinction and ask:  "Why can't they pray?" or "What's wrong with students praying together?" The answers to these questions are easy. The students can pray - they just can't be compelled to do so by school policy. That distinction is crucial to protect the religious liberty of all students. There is nothing wrong with students praying together before meals, but there is something wrong with the state telling them how to do so. Those who bemoan the end of VMI's supper prayer tradition should be heartened by the possibility of a new tradition that may emerge - student prayer that is voluntary, unscripted, and consistent with the religious freedom that is truly the fabric of society.

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Mini-Sabbatical!!!

Are you a Baptist Minister interested in a week-long sabbatical of supervised

reading in Baptist Studies? Click here for more detail.

 

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Baptist

Websites

Helpful Web Sites for Baptist Studies by Greg Thompson

Site of the Month:  Baptist History and Heritage Society
 

http://www.baptisthistory.org

In the course of planning special events and services for Baptist churches, such as homecomings, anniversary celebrations, Founders Days or other designated days to remember, we are always looking for good resources, aren't we? Such days are not only popular with church members, they are also exciting times to remember and to educate concerning our Baptist heritage. The Baptist History and Heritage Society's web site provides excellent resources available in printed form for such occasions. The site highlights a section called, "Who are Baptists?" that contains seven links to essays by prominent Baptist historians on key elements of Baptist distinctives. Information about the annual meeting of the Society as well as about the Fellowship of Baptist Historians appears on the site.  Also, the site has important information about the Society's quarterly publication, Baptist History and Heritage, one of the premier Baptist historical journals in the world. All of the above and much more makes this site a welcome witness to what is good about Baptists in a cyber world. Before your next church celebration, why not stock up your church's pamphlet rack with several of these superb documents?

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Note to
Readers

A Note to Our Readers from Walter B. Shurden

          Many of you have followed the BSB ever since we began producing it in January of 2002. If you have followed us, you know that Greg Thompson has been the computer whiz who has put this ezine together on the web for us each month. He not only designed the BSB, he suggested to me and nudged me to begin producing it when we first began The Center for Baptist Studies three years ago. 
          Greg Thompson left his work with us here at The Center for Baptist Studies at the end of April. Before he left, however, he had left his fingerprints all over the work of the Center, not simply with the BSB. As executive director, I am deeply indebted to Greg for his many efforts in helping launch the work of the Center. He coordinated our conferences. He helped with our A. H. Newman Scholars Program and our Mercer Baptist Heritage Student Essay Award. He was our office manager and budget manager and much more. I shall miss him as a working colleague and as a crazy friend with whom to enjoy life. All the time that Greg has been working with us at the Center, he has also served as pastor of Central Baptist Church in Gray, GA. Blessings, Greg, as you move back to your church work and to other new things.
          Bruce T. Gourley is stepping into Greg Thompson's shoes, and we are extremely glad that we could persuade him to join the work of the Center. Bruce, like Greg, is both a graduate of Mercer and of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Both love Mercer University and the ministry of the Christian church in its ecumenical and Baptist expression.
         Bruce served for ten years on the mission field in Montana as the Billings-area Director of Baptist Campus Ministries, Instructor of Church History at Yellowstone Baptist College, and frequent preacher in churches. Currently a doctoral student in History at Auburn University, Bruce is also Online Editor for Baptists Today, webmaster for Baptist History and Heritage Society, and owner of the BaptistLife.Com website.  He is the author of one book, The GodMakers: A Legacy of the SBC? (Providence House, 1996). His doctoral dissertation will be on the subject of Baptists in Georgia during the Civil War era. At Tarver Library at Mercer University in Macon, GA, he is in the right place to research and write that dissertation. He is also in the right place to enhance the work of Mercer's Center for Baptist Studies. Welcome, Bruce! 

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  Dates to Note


May 27-29, 2004
Baptist  History and Heritage Society Annual Meeting, Vancouver, Washington. For details go to http://www.baptisthistory.org

June 6-11, 2004
"The E. Glenn Hinson Spiritual Formation Institute," Mars Hill College,  Mars Hill, NC. Sponsored by Advent Spirituality Center, Mars Hill College. For details contact Paula Dempsey (email: advent@main.nc.us) or call 828.206.0383.              

June 24-26, 2004 Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly, Birmingham, AL.  For details, go to http://www.thefellowship.info/.

July 21-24, 2004, "Creating Space: An Experiential Prayer Retreat" at Sterchi Lodge, Hot Springs, NC. For details contact Paula Dempsey (email: advent@main.nc.us) or call 828.206.0383.

September 9, 2004, "Church State Issues in the 2004 Election: A Morning Dialogue With Brent Walker," Religious Life Building, Mercer University, Macon, GA. Contact Shurden_WB@Mercer.edu

September 26-28, 2004, The Mercer Preaching Consultation, The King and Prince Hotel, St. Simons Island, GA. For details go to www.mercer.edu/baptiststudies and click "conferences."

July 27-31, 2005, Centennial Congress of the Baptist World Alliance, Birmingham, England. To register email Congress@bwanet.org , phone 703.790.8980, or fax 1703.893.5160.
 

 

Baptist Myths: A New Pamphlet Series

A series of eleven pamphlets that address negative perceptions held towards Baptists in popular American culture. These pamphlets are suitable for individual study, church classes, and academic courses. They are jointly published by the Baptist History and Heritage Society, The Center for Baptist Studies of Mercer University, and the Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society. Editor: Doug Weaver; Associate Editors: Charles W. Deweese & Walter B. Shurden.

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