Vol. 5 No. 8




  The Jesse Mercer Plaza
  Mercer University, Macon Campus 

Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
A Monthly EMagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today

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

Visit The Center for Baptist Studies' Web Site at

Table of Contents



I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "The Quivering of the Foundations"

The Baptist Soapbox: Winnie Williams

         "Addressing the Injustices Heaped Upon Marginalized Women of the World"
Creative Ministries in the Local Baptist Church
: Lee McGlone

         "Health Ministries at FBC, Sioux Falls, South Dakota"

Baptists and Peacemaking: Glen Stassen

         "Start Talking"

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

         "Being Kind to an Imperfect Church"
In Response To . . .
: Bruce T. Gourley

         "In Response to . . . Billy Graham on the Mystery of Salvation"
Dates to Note

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I Believe

"The Quivering of the Foundations"
By Walter B. Shurden

I believe . . .
that the foundations beneath the right wing religious/political zealots are quivering. Quivering, not shaking, not even trembling, and certainly not crumbling! So don’t get your hopes up. But here are signs of the quivering:

            ● Roy Moore, ousted former Alabama Supreme Court Justice who transformed the Decalogue into a political career, got his rock crushed by Governor Bob Riley in a recent Alabama Republican primary election for governor. Riley, 66.66%; Moore, 33.34%!

            ● Former Christian Coalition leader, Georgia Republican party chairman, and Jack Abramoff buddy Ralph Reed took it on the chin in his effort to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Georgia. A Republican state senator beat him 56% to 44%!

            ● Frank Page’s first ballot election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention should not be interpreted as a swing back from theological extremes, but it is an unequivocal signal that the fundamentalist SBC College of Cardinals that has ruled the roost for a quarter of a century may no longer blow white smoke in the face of that denomination in the future.

            ● E. J. Dionne, Jr., one of the finest minds and most gracious spirits among national newspaper columnists today, asked in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post on 4 August something he confesses could not have been asked two years ago: “The End of the Right?

            ● The Pew Poll on social attitudes of Americans, released 3 August, ought to give pause to the “theologians” in the Unites States Senate who pontificate on “Americans believe this or Americans believe that . . . .”  The press release that accompanied the distribution of the Pew Polls said, “Americans cannot be easily characterized as conservative or liberal on today’s most pressing social questions. They are conservative in opposing gay marriage and gay adoption, liberal in favoring embryonic stem cell research and a little of both on abortion.” Read the entire Pew Report.

            ● Friend William E. Hull, who reads almost everything, pointed me to (Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2006, p.52) an avalanche of new books critiquing right-wing Christian involvement in politics. These books are literally piling up on us. If your house is like mine, you have several of these stacked up, begging to be held next. Here are eleven other titles to add to the “Three Books That Matter” that I wrote about last month: Jim Wallis’s bestseller God’s Politics, Obery Hendricks, Jr., The Politics of Jesus, Madeleine Albright, The Mighty and the Almighty, Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy, John C. Danforth, former Republican U. S. Senator from Missouri, Faith and Politics, Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Politics of Apocalypse: The History and Influence of Christian Zionism, George C. Hunter III, Christian, Evangelical & . . . Democrat?, Gregory Boyd, The Myth of A Christian Nation, Michale Lerner, The Left Hand of God, Robin Meyers, Why the Christian Right is Wrong, Peter Laarman, editor, Getting on Message: Challenging the Christian Right from the Heart of the Gospel.

            As a progressive Baptist who believes the religious right wing is sincerely wrongheaded and as a traditional Baptist who believes in the separation of religion and government, I can only say, “Quiver, foundations, quiver!”

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John Killinger's Latest Book:
Seven Things They Don't
Teach You in Seminary

1. “Churches are Really Institutions, Not Centers of Spirituality”
2. “To Most Churches, Appearances Are More Important than Reality”
3. “Every Successful Minister is Drowning in a Sea of Minutiae”
4. “Pastoral Search Committees Seldom Know or Tell the Truth”
5. “Preaching to the Same Congregation Sunday after Sunday is Extremely Hard Work”
6. “There is a Meanness in Some Church Members that is Simply Incredible”
7. “The Calling to Be a Minister Transcends All the Problems that Being a Minister Entails"

Hear John Kilinger at the
September 24-26, St. Simons, Georgia

Main Presenter - John Killinger
Featured Speaker - Fisher Humphreys
Music Leader - L.C. Lane
and many other great speakers!
View the Program here.

Limited Enrollment. The Consultation sold out the
past two years.  Click here to register!

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 Winnie Williams.  A retired professor from Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina and a frequent writer on missions and women's issues, Winnie has traveled throughout the world, serving as educational consultant, university teacher, speaker and humanitarian volunteer.  Her website is, and she can be reached by email at

"Addressing the Injustices Heaped Upon Marginalized Women of the World"
By Winnie Williams

          A piercing scream echoed from outside the third floor of an apartment building where I was staying in Moscow as a guest of a Baptist minister and his family. The screaming and pleadings came from a woman who was being beaten by a middle-aged man, appparently her husband. Repeatedly, he struck her with his fist as she thrashed about to avoid his punches and soon the blows to her head caused blood to gush down her face.  My Baptist host family rejected my plea to call the police stating that this was a domestic incident and the police would say, “We are too busy catching robbers and murderers to intervene in a family matter.”  The minister, in a blasé manner, said, “It is a domestic problem, not a human problem.”
          Each time I left the building and stepped over the blood-soaked sidewalk, I felt a flood of anger twisting in my chest.  Finally the rains came and cleansed the ground, but not my memory of this vulnerable Russian woman. I learned that such maltreatment from their spouses was rather typical for many Russian women. More than 10,000 Russian women are killed annually by a spouse or partner plus many, many more suffer abuse.
          Such violent behavior toward women in patriarchal societies is typical, especially in developing countries where the harsh realities of subjugation, rather than love and justice, predominates. Violations of women’s civil rights became evident to me as I became involved in volunteer missions and humanitarian endeavors in my travels to more than 45 countries.  I have grieved, been broken in spirit, distraught, and even livid at the injustices heaped upon women such as beatings, rapes, trafficking, and general degradation. I solemnly vowed to become an advocate for these women as I believe they have been made in the image of God to be loved, respected, and honored.
          Many Baptists are voiceless or deny the marginalization of women in America, much less on an international dimension. Until we acknowledge the problems of patriarchal control, it is difficult to address solutions to women’s subjugation.
          The atrocious acts of violence, neglect and exploitation directed at women produce shocking statistics: only 10% of the world’s income is earned by women; of the illiterate people in the world 66% are women; 200 million women are battered annually; and 100 million women are disabled due to childbirth complications resulting from poor health care. If the 20 million Baptists in the world addressed this issue of human rights through redeeming love and justice for all God’s children, the impact upon women would be incalculable.
          Madeline Albright stated that one of the major issues confronting the world this century is the marginalization and abuse of women. Even though there has been some progress in ensuring justice for women, the dilemma for millions of women is ever-present. Often women turn to the church for solace but fail to find empathy for their concerns. Is it not paradoxical that it is the church, especially the fundamentalist prone groups, who impose stringent submission requirements on women and use selected verses of the Bible as justification?  My observation is that the more fundamentalist a religious group is, the more stringent is the imposition of submission.  
           It will take a large slice of compassion, diligence, leadership and sacrifice by men and women to effect change for women caught in impoverished and discouraging circumstances. Are we to be the vessels that can enact change for these women who need to be unshackled from their fetters? Perhaps our global responsibility is to provide the touch that heals.

Photo: Winnie Williams, left, chats with a Kosovar woman who lost seven members of her clan during the war.

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Baptist Studies Bulletin Recommends

Mainstream Baptist:  The Personal Blog of Dr. Bruce Prescott.
Read the latest church state news and gain insight into
the ongoing "culture wars" in America.

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 emphasis focuses on the Health Ministries of First Baptist Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Senior Pastor Lee McGlone discusses the impact of this ministry within First Baptist and the Sioux Falls community.

"Health Ministries at FBC, Sioux Falls, South Dakota"
By Lee McGlone

          At FBC in Sioux Falls, SD, we believe there is a relationship between health care and spiritual care.  In the New Testament, large portions of Jesus’ teachings are devoted to healing narratives—and the resultant discussions that followed them.  The disciples were sent out not only to preach the gospel but to heal the sick (Luke 9:2).  Jesus promised that we would do even greater work than he (John 14:12).  In the Book of Acts, the early church gave attention to care-giving for the people most neglected in society.  We think we should do the same. 
          Soon after my arrival here in 2002, discussion about health ministries began.  By the next year, a number of key lay leaders and our Pastor for Caring Ministries formed a group that helped to explore the vision.  As we worked patiently through the appropriate decision-making channels, we quickly discovered significant support for the concept and the readiness to develop a staff position to give leadership to it.  In early 2004, a “Health Ministries Team” was developed and a part-time position of “Parish Nurse” was budgeted.
          The Health Ministries Team, composed of interested and committed lay persons along with one physician and several nurses, gives guidance and accountability to the ministry.  The group meets regularly to assess the vision, to evaluate ministries, and to make plans for the future. 
          The Parish Nurse is a professional who serves 20 hours a week on our staff and serves as the liaison to the Health Team.  A Parish Nurse is described as
a registered nurse who has answered a call from God to be an advocate of physical, emotional and spiritual wellness within the church. A parish nurse has obtained additional training that prepares one to provide holistic health care. The focus is on wellness and disease prevention rather than hands-on physical care. Parish nurses do not duplicate or compete with existing service providers. They work collaboratively with community services and resources to enhance health care delivery.”
Here in Sioux Falls, health ministries function in a number of capacities: counseling and listening to concerns of members, providing referrals to agencies in the community for health needs, designing educational programs that promote health awareness issues, regularly staffing screenings for hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, etc., and facilitating support groups that relate to physical, emotional, and/or spiritual health. In short, health ministries seek to encourage and to model the balance of wellness in body, mind, and spirit. 
           Some of the highlights of our efforts in recent months include:

Ø       numerous small-group seminars on end of life issues, 

Ø       regular blood pressure screenings on Sunday mornings,

Ø       providing flu shots for the elderly,

Ø       communication about health issues in church publications,

Ø       discussions about Medicare options,

Ø       hospital contacts and follow-up home visits.

          In addition, Sunday morning small-group options on topics ranging from grief recovery to family living will be offered, beginning in September.  A unique event is a monthly Sunday afternoon “healing service” that invites persons with personal, spiritual, and/or physical needs to attend for prayer and support. 
I give thanks for this newly designed ministry.  It has made a positive impact on the many who have received caring support from it—and also on those who have discovered a unique way to invest their medical and care-giving training in the work of the Lord’s church.  I look forward to its continued growth and development. 

(Visit Health Ministries online.)

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McAfee Institute for Healthy Congregations, McAfee School of Theology,
Center For Baptist Studies and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia

October 26, 2006 @ Religious Life Center, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia
Begins at 9:30 AM, Concludes at 3:30 PM

Featuring: Dr. Dennis Burton, Workshop Leader

For more information and to register, contact Dr. Larry McSwain.


Baptists and Peacemaking: A noted theologian and ethicist, Glen Stassen is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  Prior to his current position, he taught at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 20 years.  He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Duke University and Columbia University.

"Start Talking"
By Glen Stassen

            Baptists and what Jim McClendon calls small-b-baptists (believers' church members) are all baptized as believers into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This tends to make us Christ-centered. We see baptism as dying to sin and being raised to live in Christ (Romans 6). Not that we never sin anymore, and not that we follow Jesus always, but it is the shape of our commitment.
            Many forces dilute this commitment. We baptize many children so early that they are not ready to make this commitment. Some churches preach praise and celebration without a thick and deep commitment to following Jesus. Political forces infiltrate churches so they will follow their ideology rather than Jesus, or will confuse the two. Many Baptists are not aware of our historical identity from the Puritans, the Anabaptists, and the revivals.
            But still we know that God's grace comes in and through Jesus Christ, and calls us to live in Christ, to follow Jesus.
            So I've been working for a long time to help recover our sense of identity, to recover our historical origins, to recover an ethic that understands discipleship as following Jesus with full seriousness, and to think through what that means. I've been working at recovering the Sermon on the Mount for Christian living: It is not "high ideals" or "hard teachings" or "antitheses," but realistic ways of deliverance from the vicious cycles that we get stuck in. I just published a new book for good, ordinary people and good church study groups called Living the Sermon on the Mount: A Practical Hope for Grace and Deliverance (Jossey-Bass).
            For now I want to focus on Jesus' teaching that if we are angry at someone, we are commanded to drop everything and go make peace with that someone (Matthew 5:21-26). It was W.W. Adams at Southern Seminary who first opened this teaching up to me—emphasizing that this is a command from Jesus, not some weak ideal for when we feel our enemy is good enough and our mood also is good enough. Jesus says, "Just do it." It's a command.
            This led me to bring together Christian ethicists from various denominations to collectively develop the new paradigm for the Christian ethics of peace and war called Just Peacemaking. (It's explained in two books I've published by that title, Just Peacemaking).
The just peacemaking practice that implements Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:21-26 is "cooperative conflict resolution." You go talk with your enemy and practice conflict resolution.
            Is it true that as Baptists we are committed to live in Christ, to follow Jesus?
            Is it true that Jesus commands us to go make peace with the one we are angry with?
            Then doesn't this mean that we should be pushing our government to go and talk with its enemies and try to resolve conflicts and avoid war? War kills and destroys, as we see in Lebanon these days.
            Shouldn't a political leader who claims to be a Christian support this practice of just peacemaking?
            Today's New York Times editorial (August 8) is titled, "Start Talking." It says: "When asked why the US isn't talking with Syria to persuade it to stop supplying missiles to Hezbollah, President Bush replied, 'Syria knows what we think.'" But that doesn't listen to what Syria wants and to what will induce it to cut off shipments of rockets to Hezbollah or accept international monitors on its border. "Mr. Bush has always seen talking as a reward." He has refused to talk with Syria, Iran, North Korea, and a Palestine that democratically elected Hamas. That has failed to stop Syria's sending missiles to Hezbollah, Iran's enriching uranium, North Korea's building nuclear weapons and missiles, or Palestinian kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.
            Jesus doesn't see talking as a reward. It is a command. And it works a whole lot better to deliver us from these vicious cycles of nuclear weapons buildups, missile launches, and wars. Who's the realist?

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"Church and State in the 2006 Elections"

A Morning with J. Brent Walker of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty
Religious Life Center, Mercer University, Macon, GA
7 September 2006
Sponsored by The Center For Baptist Studies, Mercer University and
the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia

The Conference is Free and is open to the public.


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.

"Being Kind to an Imperfect Church"
By Charles E. Poole

          In the religious world of my youth, “worldly music” was not looked upon with favor, which is why I kept my Three Dog Night albums inside a Wendy Bagwell and the Sunlighters Greatest Gospel Hits album cover.
          One of Three Dog Night’s biggest numbers was a misty-eyed, hand-holding ballad called “Easy to be Hard,” a phrase that often comes to my mind when I think about Baptists, the Bible and the poor. When it comes to Baptists, the Bible and the poor, the subject eventually works its way around to money and how the church spends it. It is at that point that it is often easy to be hard on the church. You know how this goes: 1) The church is the body of Christ and Christ is the head of the church. 2) That means the church is in the world to embody the teachings of Christ. 3) Or, more simply put, the church is in the world to do what Jesus would do if Jesus were here. And it's along about there, somewhere around number three, that it becomes easy to be hard on the church, because the church is caught in a culture that demands things Jesus might not bless if he were here. Jesus called us to unclutter our lives, reduce our possessions, “sell all we own and give the proceeds to the poor.” So as long as churches continue to acquire, obtain, build and expand, its easy to be hard on the church for failing to follow the church’s Lord. The contradictions are obvious and abundant, making the church an easy target.
          But it isn’t that simple. Inside the spaces that churches spend millions to build, good things happen. Inside those spaces, lives are formed and minds are transformed. Here is a real irony: Would Jesus want churches to spend so much on their own comfort and convenience? No. But do very good things happen in those spaces Jesus would not have voted to buy? Yes.
          So, let’s be kind to the church. After all, if the Jesus of the gospels is her Lord, she has an impossible standard to live up to. So, of course, it will always be easy to be hard on the church. But the church, even with all its ironies and paradoxes and contradictions, is the best we have. In fact, it’s all we have.
          So, three cheers for the church! Thanks be to God for the church.

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In Response To ...

"In Response to . . . Billy Graham on the Mystery of Salvation"
By Bruce T. Gourley

          They both grew up in the South, and for much of their lives both have been Southern Baptists.  Both have studied the Bible extensively, yet both preach a Gospel which is foreign to today’s Southern Baptist leaders.  One is well known within Baptist academic circles, the other is one of the most recognizable world figures of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
          “Our faith does not require that we believe that God permits no knowledge of God except through Jesus,” one says.  “We should not ever try to limit how God can speak.  God acts creatively and redemptively in the world. We should let God draw the boundaries of creation, judgment and redemption …. God will never abandon …. God will never close the door …. God’s love will prevail.”
          “Those are decisions only the Lord will make,” echoes the other, addressing the issue of whether heaven is closed to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians.  “It would be foolish for me to speculate about all that.  I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.”
          Yet despite their shared view that salvation exists beyond Christendom, one of the two is dismissed as a heretic by fundamentalist Baptists, while the other is embraced as a hero.  After decades of opposing Kirby Godsey, fundamentalist leaders of the Georgia Baptist Convention purified themselves from any association with Godsey’s “liberal” beliefs by defunding Mercer University in the fall of 2005.  The same year, after decades of claiming evangelist Billy Graham as one of their own, fundamentalist leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention led their constituency to vote to commission a huge statue in Graham’s honor.  “
There is no better-known name in the entire world, when it comes to being a person of faith, than Billy Graham,” SBC president Bobby Welch proclaimed of the evangelist for which Southern Baptist Theological Seminary named a school.
          It is seemingly bizarre that two well known Baptists who publicly acknowledge salvation beyond Christendom are treated so differently by fundamentalists.  The story of how Godsey (the author of the first quotation in this article, published in his 1996 volume, When We Talk About God … Let’s Be Honest) became a heretic and Graham (the author of the second quotation, in the August 14, 2006 edition of Newsweek) became a hero is a reflection of how a once dynamic and growing denomination has been transformed into a declining, culturally-bound, politically-captive and increasingly irrelevant body.  In light of decades of failed evangelistic and baptismal efforts, the Southern Baptist Convention needs the name, if not the theology, of the world’s greatest evangelist.  When the statue of Graham was unveiled in June 2006 at the annual SBC meeting, Southern Baptist leaders applauded his “evangelistic fervor,” “impassioned preaching style,” and “innovative use” of media, but were noticeably silent regarding Graham’s theology.  In the Newsweek interview Graham expressed regret for not pursuing graduate education.  Yet if the world’s greatest evangelist had pursued an academic career instead of holding revivals in stadiums worldwide, he would not have been honored by a convention which despises open scholarly inquiry and scoffs at honest reflection upon the mysteries of God.
          Billy Graham recognizes, now more than ever, the inclusive nature of God’s love and the freedom that is the very heart of the Gospel he has faithfully preached to hundreds of millions of persons over six decades.  Moderate Baptists would do well to learn from his evangelistic fervor; fundamentalist Baptists would do well to learn from his inclusive theology.

Visit Bruce's personal website.

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Recommended Online Reading for Informed Baptists
Compiled by Bruce Gourley

Will This be the Next Major Higher Education Case to Reach the Supreme Court?
Inside Higher Education

Lawyers are squaring off over the issue of whether state universities are required to recognize, and thus provide tax-payer funding, for student organizations whose membership requirements are based solely on religious beliefs.

Is the "Heyday of the Christian Right" Over?
Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News

In the wake of Ralph Reed's defeat in the Georgia Republican primary, Carlson went in search of answers regarding the larger impact upon the Religious Right.  Along the way she visited David Dockery who pointed her to Frank Page's defeat of Ronnie Floyd and Jerry Sutton for the SBC presidency.  In the end, she concludes that the post-Bush era will not be kind to the Religious Right.

John Hagee, Bush's Top Middle East Advisor?
Max Blumenthal of The Nation

In shaping its Middle East policies, in recent months the Bush administration has been secretly meeting with Christians United for Israel.  CUFI is advising the administration of the "biblical imperative" to stand firmly with Israel and to be more confrontational with Iran.  None other than end-times architect John Hagee is the founder of CUFI.

Dates to

Dates to Note

September 7, 2006, Conference on “Church and State in the 2006 Elections," Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.  A morning with J. Brent Walker of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty.  Click here for more information.

September 24-26, 2006, The Mercer Preaching Consultation, St. Simon's Island, GA. Sponsored by the McAfee School of Theology and The Center for Baptist Studies.  Headline speaker: John Killinger.  Click here for more information.

October 2-3, 2006, A Theological Discussion, "A Theology of Ministerial Leadership," featuring William E. Hull and David W. Hull.  Knoxville, Tennessee.  Click here for more information.

October 8-10, 2006, Candler School of Theology Fall Conference, "Faith, Politics, and Policy." Click here for more information.

October 12-13, 2006, Conference on Ethics in Ministry, "How to Be a Good Minister," featuring Tony Campolo.  McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia.  Click here for more information.

October 26, 2006, Negotiating Conflict in the Congregation, Religious Life Center, Mercer University, Macon, GA.  Sponsored by McAfee Institute for Healthy Congregations, McAfee School of Theology, The Center For Baptist Studies and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia.  To register, mail to Dr. Larry McSwain, McAfee School of Theology, 3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta, GA 30341-4115 a check payable to McAfee School of Theology in the amount of $39 by October 20, 2006.  Registration at the door: $49.

November 5-6, 2006, CBF/GA Fall Convocation, "A Gift Too Good to Keep!"  First Baptist Church of Christ of Macon.  Speakers: Rob Nash, CBF National Global Mission Coordinator, and Bill Underwood, Mercer University President.  For more information, visit

December 29, 2006 - January 2, 2007, Antiphony, "Call and Response." Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, Georgia.  For more information, visit

February 7-10, 2007, Current Retreat, "Let Justice Roll." First Baptist Church, Austin, Texas.  Registration cost is $100 for ministers and lay leaders, $55 for seminary students.  Click here for more information.

February 19-20, 2007, Self Preaching Lectures, McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, Georgia.  Speaker: Tom Long.  For more information, email Diane Frazier.

For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the Online Baptist Community Calendar.

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