THE BAPTIST STUDIES
2006 Vol. 5 No. 4
A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists
Yesterday and Today
by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Visit The Center for Baptist
Studies' Web Site at www.centerforbaptiststudies.org
Walter B. Shurden, Executive Editor, The
Baptist Studies Bulletin
Bruce T. Gourley, Editor, The
Baptist Studies Bulletin
Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I Believe . . .
: Walter B. Shurden
The Baptist Soapbox: Jeffrey and Tonya Vickery
The Baptist University in the 21st Century:
Baptist University in the 21st Century"
Creative Ministries in the Local Baptist Church:
"Partnering with Non-Profit
Baptists, the Bible,
and the Poor: Charles E.
Doing More Means Doing Less for Jesus"
In Response To . . .
: Bruce T. Gourley
War on Christians"
Dates to Note
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"Differences that Blind"
By Walter B. Shurden
I believe . . .
that Huston Smith was
right, in The Way Things Are, to admonish us to “beware of the
differences that blind us to the unity that binds us” (36).While he was
speaking to a much broader religious situation than minor differences within a
single denominational family, he nonetheless described the recent meeting of
eighteen Baptist leaders, representing over 20 million Baptists, at the Carter
Center in Atlanta, GA.
At the invitation of President
Jimmy Carter these eighteen people, nine of whom were CEOs of Baptist
denominations, met on April 10, 2006, and “affirmed their desire to speak and
work together to create an authentic and genuine prophetic Baptist voice in
these complex times.” They also “reaffirmed their commitment to traditional
Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its
implications for public and private morality.” They specifically committed
themselves to their “obligations as Christians to promote peace with justice,
to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick
and the marginalized, welcome the strangers among us, and promote religious
liberty and respect for religious diversity.”
The Baptist leaders called
their press release “A
North American Baptist Covenant.”
Why was the meeting
significant? First, much of its significance lay in the man who called the
meeting and sat at the head of the table. No other person in the world could
have received the kind of positive response that President Carter received
from these diverse Baptist leaders. President Carter tapped President-elect
Bill Underwood of Mercer University as his point person, and Underwood
performed golden work in setting up the meeting and serving as an associate
Secondly, the significance of
the meeting lay in the diversity of the Baptist groups sitting at the table.
North and South! Black and white! Canadian and U.S.! Progressive, moderate and
conservative! The one commonality is that each of the groups represented is a member of the Baptist World Alliance.
Thirdly, having no interest at
all in creating a super Baptist convention, the individuals at the Carter
Center nonetheless recognized the need for a new unified Baptist voice on
issues that bind rather than on differences that blind. What binds? Matthew 25
binds! Jesus’ call for action on behalf of the hungry, the thirsty, the
stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner binds. As one of the leaders
said of Matthew 25, “This is the sharing of the gospel!” What binds? A
personal and public witness to the gospel binds. What binds? The historic
Baptist passion for religious liberty and respect for religious diversity
After the Carter Center
Conference, what? I believe . . . that we will see for Baptists of North
America a continuation of the fragile unity that binds. I believe . . . that
the unity will manifest itself in many shapes and forms, large and small. I
believe . . . that good people with passion for the cause are at the helm. I
believe . . .
that we must “beware of the differences that blind us to the unity that binds
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Are You Interested in Collegiate Ministry in the
so, This Conference is for You:
THE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS: TOMORROW'S MODERATE
May 4-5, 2006 •
First Baptist Church,
Sponsored by: National CBF,
Georgia CBF and The Center for Baptist Studies
PURPOSE OF CONFERENCE: to act as a catalyst for
collegiate ministry among
moderate Baptists and to encourage concrete actions at the local church level
in the area of missions to the college campus.
The cost is free!
here for Program, Registration and Hotel Information.
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 are Jeffrey and
Tonya Vickery. Tonya and Jeffrey Vickery are beginning their fifth year
of pastoral ministry at Cullowhee Baptist Church in Cullowhee, NC, and can be
reached via email at
By Jeffrey and Tonya
In 1996 our moderate Baptist friends in the Carolinas were not optimistic. A
local Baptist congregation calling a husband and wife to serve as pastor? They
didn’t think so. And sometimes we didn’t either. The compromising yet genuine
suggestion was that Jeffrey could find a church to pastor and Tonya could fit
in. This option, however, asked one of us to ignore our calling to pastoral
ministry. Though we are not stubborn to a fault, we were and are committed to
Five years makes a difference. In 2001 we sought to transition from shared
ministry as associate pastors in an ecumenical church to co-pastor a Baptist
congregation. Those same moderate Baptists encouraged us that the possibility
was open in ways it had not been before.
Today a growing network
of Baptist co-pastors are serving churches in NC, FL, GA, VA, TN, and MO among
other places. Some of these congregations are multi-staff churches in urban
settings, and others are small rural churches.
What they have in common is a married couple who serves as “pastor,” equal in
ministry and complementary in giftedness.
Each co-pastor couple and congregation finds a model for ministry that works
for their unique context. Some of us share one ministry position and thus one
salary. Others are both “full-time” with two full salaries. Some co-pastors
have designated ministry responsibilities: one focuses on administration and
education, while the other looks after pastoral care and worship planning.
Other co-pastors employ a more fluid model in their ministerial tasks—either
pastor visits or counsels or leads when appropriate. In all cases, both
pastors preach on a regular basis.
As moderate Baptists continue to educate women and men in our seminaries, and
as we affirm openly our support of women in pastoral ministry, the role of
co-pastors in congregations should proliferate. It models pastoral ministry
for both women and men; it affirms the role of marriage and families in
congregations; and it reflects the biblical example of Priscilla and Aquila.
While co-pastoring is not for every church, nor for every married couple in
ministry, more Baptist search committees need to be open to the possibility of
co-pastors, and more couples called to ministry need to prayerfully explore
this model of ministry.
We, therefore, humbly offer the following advice:
…for Baptist Search Committees:
(1) Co-pastoring is a proven and effective model of pastoral ministry and can
perhaps work in your church.
(2) Creativity with salary and the division of ministry gives churches options
rather than limitations with regard to calling co-pastors.
(3) The pastoral calling must be issued equally to both pastors so that each
individual will be seen as pastor to the congregation.
(4) Your church may lose fellowship with other churches
and groups not open to female clergy.
(5) Ready to consider co-pastors? Couples serving as co-pastors have resources
available to help churches in the search process. We can talk to search
committees, or have church members share what it is like in a church with
…for Ministry Couples:
(1) Co-pastoring is a proven and effective model of pastoral ministry. This
works! And it can be done.
(2) Know how your gifts for ministry are complementary and how they are
unique, and be able to share these ideas with search committees.
(3) Shared preaching is a must in establishing pastoral identity for both
(4) Every marriage requires good communication. Sharing a pastorate requires
(5) Interested? Shoot us an email. We would love to help you explore the
possibilities of serving and proclaiming together.
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A Suggestion for Celebrating Our
"As a congregation, we not only celebrate being Baptist
on Baptist Heritage Sunday, we have this year completely converted our
church archives into a Baptist heritage study center, including internet
access and a wealth of Baptist research material. We want it to be a
place for study and research as Baptists, as well as preserving the
Dr. Dennis Johnson, pastor
Charleston, W. VA.
The Baptist University in
the 21st Century:
This special series explores the role of Baptist universities in contemporary
Baptist life, from the perspective of Baptist university presidents.
This month's contributor is Jerry Cain, president of Judson College, Elgin,
Baptist University in the 21st Century"
Jerry B. Cain
Martin Marty declared that the 20th
century witnessed the “baptistification of the American Church,” meaning that
national Christianity assumed characteristics of the local Baptist
congregation—local church autonomy, locally certified ministers, the downplay
of denominationalism, the upswing of local church pragmatism, plus
independence in denominational cooperation and programming. The Baptist
university of the 21st century will also assume many of these same
characteristics. The next fifty years will witness the baptisitification of
the Baptist university.
autonomy enjoyed by the local Baptist congregation for centuries has become or
will become to an even higher degree the staple
of Baptist universities. As no outside agency appoints leadership in a local
Baptist church, the 21st century will see even fewer outside
agencies appointing leadership in the Baptist university. American Baptist
and Black Baptist schools have lived in this milieu for generations, but
Southern Baptists have only experienced the phenomenon over the past quarter
century. This creates opportunities for schools to be as independent, varied
and unpredictable as local congregations.
pointed out in Bowling Alone, the American culture is tending toward
individuation rather than institutionalism. Local congregations have
expressed an increasing lack of denominational loyalty through the last
quarter of the 20th century, often dropping the word “Baptist” from their sign
and logo to adopt a more generic customer friendly community or neighborhood
identity for niche marketing. Likewise, Baptist universities will attract
fewer students because they are “Baptist” and will find other marketing
procedures to attract a full student body. Fewer schools will emphasize their Baptistness but will choose rather to market their academic vigor or their
generic Christian vitality.
next several years will see Baptist universities attempting to determine their
identity based on personality and mission. Some will intentionally become “a
historically Baptist college” to acknowledge their past but admit that the
Baptist factor is a nonevent in the present day operations. Others will
become “church-related” with some elements of limited ecclesiological impact
in chapel, student affairs, faculty hiring or board representation. Yet other
Baptist schools will declare themselves to be intentionally Christian using
faith statements, biblical criteria or Christian experience as a major marker
in faculty hiring, student recruitment and their mission statement.
21st century, Baptist colleges and universities will expect less
government funding for financial aid (caused by a de-emphasis on education due
to the necessary reallocation of funding to meet the geriatric concerns
caused by the aging Baby Boomers) but will find more funding available for
specific programs such as buildings and research. Baptist schools will thus
have to revisit the pragmatics of separation of church and state. As Baptist
colleges deemphasize their Baptist history, character and name, they will most
likely deemphasize the baptistic separation of church and state.
Creative programs and creative relationships will be necessary to produce more
revenue to balance budgets. Non-traditional alliances will be created with
faculty members who want to work non-traditional hours, from non-traditional
locations and teach non-traditional courses. The 21st century will
witness changing allegiances of Baptist schools with their identity groups.
The Council for Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Council for Christian
Colleges and Universities (CCCU) might become the primary service unit for
more of our schools while the denominationally identified Association of
Southern Baptist Schools and Colleges (ASBSC) and the Association of American
Baptist Colleges and Universities (ABACU) might assume a secondary identity as
a subset of CIC or CCCU.
Collaborations with historically ethnic schools, historically women’s schools,
community colleges and even for-profit schools will offer unique opportunities
for Baptist higher education to thrive in the 21st century.
Colleges will be less driven by dormitory needs than by parking lot needs and
technology needs. The Baptist university may not be located only at the
physical corner of Main and Elm Street but also at
www.BaptistUniversity.com or on the campus of the
local community college or in the basement of a local church building. Senior
citizens and internationals will become the staples of new markets.
local Baptist church adjusts to cultural shifts to fulfill its ministry in the
21st century, so will the local Baptist university. To
paraphrase the namesake of my college, Adoniram Judson, “the future (of the Baptist university) is as
bright as the promises of God.”
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Creative Ministries in
the Local Baptist Church:
This series highlights local churches who are
intentionally creative in their approach to ministry. This month's
featured local church ministry is the shared partnership that First Baptist
Church of Los Angeles, California, has with a variety of non-profit
author of this article is Dennis Plourde, pastor of First Baptist, Los
with Non-Profit Organizations"
By Dennis Plourde
For over two years now the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles has shared its
building with three other non-profit organizations: Koinonia Church (an
Hispanic Congregation); Green Pastures Tutoring Program (a Korean-based
program that offers tutoring to high school drop outs) and Los Angeles
Leadership Academy (a charter school for 9th and 10th
graders). FBC is a building of over 100 rooms that is almost 80 years old.
Our educational wing was unused except for Sunday and there was the need for
both good stewardship of the building entrusted to us and for additional
On the whole our
experience has been mostly positive with some occasional misunderstandings and
bumps along the way. The main disadvantage has been the loss of space for our
own use. All three groups have exclusive usage of parts of the building and
all share some of our other rooms during the week. We have discovered that
they take good care of the sections of the building that are their exclusive
usage but are not that concerned in the areas which we use jointly. We are
constantly reminding them to put chairs and tables back as they were found, to
clean the room after each use and to honor the items that are there. Our
custodial staff is small and our covenants with them ask them to help in
keeping the joint-usage rooms clean. We try to make sure they are cleaned
after our Sunday usage.
Another issue has
been the wear and tear on an 80-year old building. We have had to do some
electrical updating and have suffered major plumbing problems that 300 or 400
additional people daily cause, just because of every day usage. We had
anticipated some of the problems that we have encountered but not all.
We were concerned
with the two school programs about graffiti on the walls of the building and
bathrooms. We wrote into the schools' leases that the bathroom would be
inspected daily by their staff and any graffiti immediately removed. We have
experienced some minor graffiti problems but not to the extent that we had
anticipated. Our custodial staff also checks the bathrooms daily and reports
to the school any problems found.
Of course, there
have been minor instances of misunderstandings, especially in areas of joint
usage. One of the major concerns is our dining room which we use for
meals, but which must be scheduled for other activities by the schools. One principal decided that it was for their usage
anytime. After several discussions with her and with her supervisors, the
situation was resolved with a new principal being hired. We discovered that
rules needed to be posted and enforced and our Trustees developed a list of
Building Rules and Guidelines which has proven helpful to all concerned.
On the plus side
our building is now used every day of the week. Over 250 young people and
parents are in the building during the week and we are now located on their
radar screen. We also open the building to a Community Watch Group and have
worked with the local police precinct to use the portions of the building for
community meetings, etc. We are still working out ways to have some contact
with these youth and their families but at least now have a “in” with many of
them and have an opportunity for future outreach and witness.
It has not been an
easy journey, problems exist but in the long run we are becoming a vital and
active part of the community where we exist.
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The Baptist Studies Bulletin Recommends
Baptist History and Heritage Society Annual Meeting
Theme: The Contributions of Baptist Public
Figures in America
June 1-3, 2006 •
First Baptist Church, Washington,
Keynote Speaker: Brent Walker, Baptist Joint
Committee for Religious Liberty
Program, Cost and Registration: For detailed
Blog from the Capital
Sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee for
Read it daily.
Bible and Poor
Baptists, the Bible, and the Poor: Charles E. Poole is a Baptist minister with Lifeshare
Community Ministries in 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.
"When Doing More Means
Doing Less for Jesus"
By Charles E. Poole
As I write these words another Easter is coming and another Lent is leaving.
Before this fast-fading Lent is altogether gone, I thought it might be helpful
to look at one of those serious, provocative, Lent-like passages in the
gospels; the question John sent Jesus from jail: When John heard in prison
what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him,
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus
answered them, “Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their
sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are
raised and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who
takes no offense at me.”
I’ve always been
intrigued by that last line, “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at
me.” Jesus has recited the list of those in whom he is investing his
time, energy and attention: the blind, the lame, the sick, the deaf, the
dying, the poor. Then he says, “I hope this doesn’t offend anyone.” He isn’t
making a splash or drawing a crowd. (He decided against that approach early
on, in the wilderness, against Satan.) He seems to say, “I’m giving my power
and my gifts to the blind, deaf, lame, sick, sad and poor. I hope you don’t
find that offensive.”
We, the church, did not
find that offensive. We just weren’t content with that, so we got distracted
by doing business. We still care about the people Jesus cared about: the
blind, the deaf, the sick, the sad, the poor. But if you’re going to make an
impact in today’s world, you’ve got to do business. So we, the church that is
only in the world to follow Jesus, branched out. As a result, we do more. And
it shows. It shows in our facilities, programs and budgets. Our church
budgets set aside more for landscaping than for work with the blind. We spend
more on insurance than on ministries with the deaf. We have bigger line-items
for facility maintenance than for aiding the disabled. We invest more in
enlarging buildings than in relieving poverty.
All of which has some
good in it, and all of which would be fine if only it weren’t for Jesus. Jesus
had other concerns. We like those concerns, the ones he recited for John’s
messengers, but they weren’t enough for us. We had to branch out and do more.
Which would be fine, were it not for the fact that doing more of what’s on our
list means doing less of what was on Jesus’ list.
In the last lingering
light of a fast-fading Lenten season of serious reflection, perhaps we should
pause to say to Jesus what Jesus said to John: “We hope you aren’t offended
at the ways we have decided to invest our time, energy, power and
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Response To ...
"In Response To ... The
'War on Christians'"
By Bruce T. Gourley
Late last month two Baptist leaders in America stood before a few hundred
fundamentalists in Washington, D.C., and declared that a “war on Christians”
has been declared by American culture. Baptist minister Rick Scarborough,
head of the theocratic think-tank Vision America (visionamerica.org),
led the charge. Standing by his side was indicted Baptist layman Tom DeLay.
Their evidence of “Christian persecution?” Some Americans dare to say bad
things about their particular brand of Christianity (see USA TODAY, 3/30/06).
Ironically, Scarborough’s Vision America says equally bad things about
religious people with whom he disagrees, including other Christians.
when was name-calling elevated to the level of warfare?
If there were
a real war on Christians by the establishment, it might look something like
this: beatings, whippings, jailings, charges of child abuse, having one’s
children taken away, refusal to recognize marriages, stonings, bombings,
shootings, being dragged from the pulpit, or perhaps even being urinated on
while preaching from the pulpit.
No, this is
not a recount of crimes against Christians in some communist country, nor is
it a listing of events from the U.S.-established Islamic theocracies in
present-day Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather, it is a summary of court records of
1760s and 1770s colonial Virginia, describing atrocities committed against
Baptists by the theocratic “Christian” government. That’s right; a
“Christian” government making war against Christians. Why? Because the
radical, liberal Baptists refused to obey the laws of the theocracy, and dared
to call for full religious liberty for everyone and complete separation of
church and state.
There is no
cultural war on Christians in America today. Jesus did not teach his
followers to complain and whine over name-calling. But Scarborough and DeLay,
in their self-righteousness, have ignored the Gospel and betrayed their
Baptist heritage by insisting that fundamentalist Christians should receive
special favoritism and privileges from our culture and should be allowed to
control our government and legal system.
Scarborough and DeLay’s brand of grossly misguided theology is echoed by the
leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and preached from many pulpits in
America today. Even more
tragically, underneath their chicken-little rhetoric lies a real war against
Christianity in America.
and DeLay are heroes of today’s Religious Right, an organization whose real
values are privilege, greed, worldly power and deceit ― the very things that
the Bible teaches are opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus
there is a traitorous war against Christianity in America today, waged
by the Religious Right, a group who bears the name “Christian” but lives in
opposition to that which Jesus taught and embodied: humility, servanthood,
love for one’s enemies, integrity, honesty, and truth.
many non-believers view Christianity in a negative light; too many who bear the
name of Christ have prostituted him for their own purposes. No wonder Southern Baptist
fundamentalists reject Jesus as their criterion for interpreting scripture:
he is far too liberal, far too loving, far too concerned about justice for
the poor and powerless, far too committed to the truth, and far too much of a
peacemaker to suit their agenda.
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The Baptist Studies Bulletin Recommends:
that high school students graduating in 2006 or 2007 enter the religious
liberty essay writing contest sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee
of Washington, D.C. Win a $1,000 and a trip to Washington!
Click here for more information.
Dates to Note
April 17-20, 2006,
Wait on the Lord, Spiritual Formation Conference,
Orlando. For all clergy and lay ministers. Presented by American Baptist
including registration instructions, is available online.
April 21-23, 2006,
Alliance of Baptists, 20th Annual Convocation, Southside
Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama. Theme: Race: "We Have This Ministry–Reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18).
Visit the website.
May 4-5, 2006, "The University Campus: Tomorrow's
Moderate Baptists." First Baptist Church, Decatur, GA. Sponsored
by National Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of
Georgia, and The Center for Baptist Studies. For more information,
June 1-3, 2006, Baptist
History and Heritage Society annual meeting, First
Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. The meeting will be hosted by the Baptist
Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. The theme for the meeting will be “The
Contributions of Baptist Public Figures in
For more information,
visit the society’s website or e-mail Pam Durso at
June 21-24, 2006, National Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship General Assembly, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA.
For more information, go to
July 10-15, 2006, Baptist Peace Fellowship Summer
for registration, housing and scholarship information.
July 12-15, 2006, International Conference on Baptist Studies IV, Acadia
University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The Fourth International
Conference on Baptist Studies will help to mark the centennial celebrations of
the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches. The theme is "Baptists and
Mission," which includes home and foreign missions, evangelism, and social
more information, contact Professor D.
W. Bebbington, Department of History, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9
4TB, Scotland, United Kingdom (e-mail:
For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the
Online Baptist Community Calendar.
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