April 2006              Vol. 5  No. 4

A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists
Yesterday and Today


Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Visit The Center for Baptist Studies' Web Site at

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

Bruce T. Gourley, Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Table of Contents



I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "Differences that Blind"

The Baptist Soapbox: Jeffrey and Tonya Vickery

The Baptist University in the 21st Century
: Jerry Cain

         "The Baptist University in the 21st Century"
Creative Ministries in the Local Baptist Church
Dennis Pourde

         "Partnering with Non-Profit Organizations"

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

         "When Doing More Means Doing Less for Jesus"
In Response To . . .
: Bruce T. Gourley

         "The War on Christians"
Dates to Note

Note:  To print the BSB, set your printer's left and right margins to .4 inches or less.


To change / add / delete your email for the Baptist Studies Bulletin, please click here.

Netscape users: If you need to increase the font size on your screen, click "view" then "increase font."

Note:  You are free to duplicate and circulate the articles in BSB or to use quotations
from our articles.  We would, however, appreciate a good word about where
you found your material. It makes us look good!  Thanks.

I Believe

"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 co-chair. 
         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 binds.
         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 us.”  

Table Of Contents


Are You Interested in Collegiate Ministry in the 21st Century?
If so, This Conference is for You:

May 4-5, 2006
First Baptist Church, Decatur, GA

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!  Click here for Program, Registration and Hotel Information.

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 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

Jeffrey and Tonya Vickery

          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 God’s calling.
          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 co-pastors.

…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 pastors.
(4) Every marriage requires good communication. Sharing a pastorate requires the same.
(5) Interested? Shoot us an email. We would love to help you explore the possibilities of serving and proclaiming together.

Table Of Contents


A Suggestion for Celebrating Our Baptist Heritage:

"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 church archives."
Dr. Dennis Johnson, pastor
Baptist Temple
Charleston, W. VA.

Baptist Univ.

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, Illinois.

"The Baptist University in the 21st Century"
By 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.
             The 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.
             As 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.
             The 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.
             In the 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 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.
             As the 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.”

Table Of Contents

Local Church

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 organizations.  The author of this article is Dennis Plourde, pastor of First Baptist, Los Angeles.

"Partnering 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 income.
           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.

Table Of Contents


The Baptist Studies Bulletin Recommends the Following:

Baptist History and Heritage Society Annual Meeting
Theme: The Contributions of Baptist Public Figures in America
June 1-3, 2006
First Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

Keynote Speaker:  Brent Walker, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

Program, Cost and Registration:  For detailed information, click here.

Blog from the Capital
Sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
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 money.”

Table Of Contents

In 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 (, 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.
            But since 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.
            Tragically, 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.
            Scarborough 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. 
            No wonder 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.

Table Of Contents

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

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 Churches USA More information, 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, click here.

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 America.” 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 Conference, Atlanta.  Click here 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 concern. For 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.

Table Of Contents




If you do not wish to receive BSB any longer, please Click Here to unsubscribe.