Vol. 5 No. 10




  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

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I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "A Baptist Most of You Readers Have Never Heard Of"

The Baptist Soapbox: Samuel Nixon, Jr.

         "Lott Carey HIV/AIDS Initiative"
Creative Ministries in the Local Baptist Church
: First Baptist, Huntsville, AL

         "Special Needs Ministry"

Baptists and Peacemaking: Glen Stassen

         "Practicing Peace:  A Thoughtful Proposal"

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

         "Drawing Near to God by Being Among the Poor"
In Response To . . .
: Bruce T. Gourley

         "In Response to . . . The Current Affairs Bookshelf"
Dates to Note

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I Believe

"A Baptist Most of You Readers Have Never Heard Of"
By Walter B. Shurden

I believe . . .
and I would wager that most of the Baptists who are readers of The Baptist Studies Bulletin have never heard of Peter Randolph. I met him only recently myself, so I am certainly not in a bragging state. I do want to introduce you to him, however.
          A Baptist preacher, he lived from 1825 (?) to 1897. Randolph was a slave for the first twenty-seven years of his life. Having spent his slave years in Prince George County, Virginia, he spent his years of liberation primarily in Boston. After his liberation, he traveled extensively, preaching the gospel and acting on behalf of African Americans.
          Unschooled, he learned to read and write basically on his own. He wrote two books. He wrote the first volume in 1855, and he entitled it Sketches of Slave Life. Don’t read it after dinner, because it will sour your supper! One recent reader of Sketches said, “This book impacted me physically.” Another could not hold back tears. Another had trouble even continuing the book. Read it and you will understand these responses. You can read it in less than an hour.
          Peter Randolph called his second book From Slave Cabin to the Pulpit: The Autobiography of Rev. Peter Randolph: the Southern Question Illustrated. It was first published in 1893. Read it and you will be struck by this ex-slave’s courage to confront. You will be inspired by his incredible hope and belief in justice. Given that white Baptist Christians in the South overwhelmingly blessed the evil of slavery, their descendents today will probably be amazed at the fact that Randolph stayed within the Christian church generally and the Baptist denomination in particular. (And many of us turn our backs on church with such giant cynicism and for such petulant reasons!) You will be awed by his gratitude for friendship. He had many, many friends. Indeed he lists 187 of them by name at the end of the book, not counting those he mentions within the book. Numbered among those friends were Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, William Loyd Garrison, and Frederick Douglas. He had friendships with white Baptist preachers such as A. J. Gordon of Boston and A. E. Dickenson and J. B. Jeter of the Religious Herald in Virginia. Jeter said of Randolph that he was “as good a colored preacher as he ever heard (p. 74,  online edition).”
          Maybe the most incredible lines in the autobiography appear in the last chapter: “The river has its bend and the longest road must terminate. As I look backward and take a retrospective view of my past toils and sorrows, and the vicissitudes through which I have passed, I FEEL THAT I HAVE MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR (p. 131, online edition; caps and bold are mine).” Thankfully, for us, his gratitude trumped his  understandable anger.
          Personally, I am thankful to Sandy Martin, a Baptist scholar who heads the Religious Studies department at the University of Georgia, for introducing me to Peter Randolph and his writings. And Sandy Martin and Peter Randolph both made me aware that white Baptists must take their place at the feet of their African American Baptist sisters and brothers. We white folk must learn a different kind of Baptist history in America, one that is laced with unspeakable suffering and buoyed by unimaginable hope.
          You can read Randolph’s two books online, courtesy of the University of North Carolina, or you can order From Slave Cabin to Pulpit: Peter Randolph, edited by Paul D. Sporer (Chester, NY: Anza Publishing, 2004). I prefer the online account, but either will introduce you to a Baptist that you probably have never heard of but
desperately need to know.

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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 Reverend Samuel Nixon, Jr.  The director of HIV/AIDS Initiative of Lott Carey International (LCI), Nixon is a leading voice among Baptists for HIV/AIDS education and ministry.  Lott Carey International (LCI) is a Washington, DC headquartered, faith-based, not-for-profit agency committed to helping empower impoverished people around the world to improve their qualities of life.

"Lott Carey HIV/AIDS Initiative"
Samuel Nixon, Jr.

          In 2000, the Lott Carey leadership initiated the Lott Carey HIV/AIDS Initiative to seek to to engage comprehensive, replicable, and sustainable models of prevention and care for persons impacted by HIV/AIDS globally, primarily in collaboration with indigenous faith communities, organizations, governmental agencies, and other entities committed to this cause.
          The Initiative expands the reach of our services and the number of patients and families we serve through:

  • Providing HIV/AIDS education for prevention through faith communities and community organizations;
  • Supporting and developing programs and infrastructures for the growing number of children whose parents have died from AIDS related diseases;
  • Empowering community health workers who provide care for AIDS patients in villages and communities; and
  • Strengthening the capacity of village and community clinics and hospitals to prevent HIV/AIDS infections and to care for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Significant Developments:  

  1. Support for and participation in HIV/AIDS conferences in the two-thirds world:
    • Kenya/Cameroon (2001,2003,2005) with the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)
    • Jamaica (2003) with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and the Jamaican Baptist Union (JBU)
    • United States (2004-2006) Samuel DeWitt Proctor Pastors’ Conference
    • South Africa (2006) U.S. Office of Global AIDS Coordinator’s (OGAC) President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Lott Carey Presentation
    • Ontario 2006 International AIDS Conference (IAC)
  2. Youth education and awareness training for more than 500 youth each summer (2001- 2006) at the Lott Carey Annual Youth Seminar held at Shaw University, Raleigh, NC

What is Lott Carey Doing Now?

          Lott Carey is helping over 1200 orphans a month through partnership with the AIDS Orphans Education Trust (AOET) in Uganda.  This year, the organization launched a new HIV/AIDS initiative with the Friendly Integrated Development Initiatives in Poverty Alleviation (FIDIPA), helping Kenyans address stigma issues.  Lott Carey also began work on a new HIV/AIDS project with the African AIDS Initiative International (AAII) to support voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) needs for HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.  Another HIV/AIDS initiative is in conjunction with our partners in Bangalore (MRORT) and New Delhi (LCBM), India to support their work in education and prevention for people of the country.
          Lott Carey continues to support the women and families of South Africa who produce the “Sign of Hope” Pins through our mission partner, the Baptist Convention of South Africa (BCSA) to remind us of their and our hope to reduce the spread of and eliminate the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These projects include the following areas:  care and support, education and prevention, voluntary counseling and testing, orphans and vulnerable children support, income generation programs, and empowerment of women. The projects engage people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) as integral to the projects’ development and implementation.

Opportunities to Work with Lott Carey

          You can be a witness to the work of the Kingdom of God by giving through Lott Carey to further the Baptist witness in combating this global crisis.  Please contact us, via the following ways, and we’ll look to “hear” from you soon:

1.  Give financially to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic through Lott Carey. Send check(s) to “Lott Carey” at 220 I Street, NE, Ste. 220, Washington, DC 20002. Make sure to note “HIV/AIDS Initiative” on the check.

2.  Volunteer for service at the address given above, to the attention of the “Lott Carey HIV/AIDS Initiative,” or contact us at 202-543-3200.

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Baptist Studies Bulletin Recommends

The Mainstream Baptists Web Blog
"Baptists for the Separation of Church and State and for Compassionate Justice"
A collaborate effort of 19 Baptists who are committed to the Baptist tradition.

Join the Discussion Today!

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 Special Needs Ministry of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, Alabama.  The following article was gleaned from the church's website.

"Special Needs Ministry"
First Baptist, Huntsville, Alabama

          First Baptist Huntsville is committed to ministering to every one of God's children.  As the church's web site explains, this goal is achieved through a five-pronged approach:
          Building Accessibility:  Restrooms meeting ADA requirements are available on both the 1st and 2nd floors near the elevator. There is also a family restroom near the 2nd floor elevator, and additional restrooms are available on the same floor near the Sanctuary.  Also, the Sanctuary is completely wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available for those who need assistance for worship, and Ushers at the door are available to help.
          Worship Enhancement:  Large print Hymnals and Orders of Worship are available for those who may need them. In addition, hearing devices are available upon request from the Ushers. American Sign Language (ASL) is available upon request.
          Special Needs Adult Sunday School:  This Sunday School class meets in the Christian Life Center.  Supported by the church at large, some members have been attending the class for decades.  Transportation to the class is provided in a church mini-bus with wheelchair capabilities.
          Buddy Ministry:  This special ministry is for children and youth who have "difficulty with transitions, a learning disability, developmental delay, vision or hearing difficulty, a physical disability, a medical condition, behavior difficulties, with mental retardation or who need special equipment."  The Buddy Ministry is available during the Sunday School time as well as other church activities.  "The purpose of the Buddy Ministry is to provide the assistance necessary to enable all children and youth to learn about God's love and grow in faith."
          SMART:  The Special Maintenance And Repair Team is a "group of members who are available to help with maintenance, building of wheelchair ramps, and minor repairs at homes of members."
          The leadership responsibilities associated with the above multi-dimensional Special Needs Ministry are divided among a number of church members, making this a true team effort by First Baptist Huntsville.  For more information about this ministry, visit the First Baptist Huntsville web site.

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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.

"Practicing Peace: A Thoughtful Proposal"
By Glen Stassen

In my August Baptist soapbox, I wrote:
Jesus commanded us to go make peace with our neighbor when there is something wrong between us. I cited the New York Times editorial (August 8) titled, "Start Talking." It urged President Bush to stop refusing to talk with Syria, Iran, and North Korea.
            Jesus doesn't see talking as a reward. It is a command. And talking works a whole lot better to deliver us from these vicious cycles of nuclear weapons buildups, missile launches, and wars. Who's the realist—Jesus or George W. Bush?
            Now this week North Korea test-exploded a nuclear bomb, demonstrating that President Bush's refusal to talk did not work very well. This threatens to induce neighboring nations to want to go nuclear. And North Korea has been selling missiles for the money they desperately need. Whom will they sell nuclear weapons to?
            President Bush made war against the first of the nations he called "the axis of evil," and Iran and North Korea feared they needed a deterrent. They said that if the U.S. would give them a treaty of nonaggression, they would halt their nuclear developments. Our U.S. government refused such a treaty and refused direct talks.
            What would you think if we started a Christian movement to urge our next president to follow practices of just peacemaking?—A thoughtful movement, not a highly partisan or self-righteous movement. Like:
            We see a threat to humankind from weapons of mass destruction—nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and biological weapons. They could fall into the hands of terrorist networks or nations that could use them for unimaginable evil. The Bible warns of judgment coming, the destruction of war and exile, for those who trust not in God but in the false gods of weapons of war (Isaiah 31:1-3; Jeremiah 2:5-18; Hosea 7:11 and 10:13-15).

            We have sometimes been overly individualistic, thinking only of threats to ourselves. But we are loyal to a church and a gospel that are worldwide, and a Lord who teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:17-18; Luke 10:29; Matthew 5:43-48 and 22:39). God gives warm sunshine and nurturing rain to the just and unjust alike, and we participate in God's love when we include even our enemies in the community of neighbors. Therefore, we need to find ways to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destructive by becoming more internationally cooperative.
            The effective human response to threat is not fight or flight, but to band together and cooperate. Jesus teaches the way of cooperation to solve these problems. Love your neighbor as yourself; love your enemy as God does; work together with all neighbors as much as you can, cooperatively, to solve problems.
            Therefore we advocate that our country and all countries talk together to curtail these weapons. That is what has worked ever since the nonproliferation treaty was signed in 1968 to prevent nuclear weapons from spreading. Refusing to talk with antagonists is not an effective way to persuade them to curtail weapons of mass destruction.
We advocate that nations, including our nation, be law-abiding. All are sinners (Romans 3:23). Therefore we need laws to check and balance the human propensity to sin. That applies to our nation as well as other nations. We commit ourselves to work for laws that seek to prevent the manufacture of poison gases, chemical weapons, weapons designed to spread biological diseases, and fissile material like highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear bombs. Treaties that do this already exist; but our government has refused to sign and support the treaties or inspections that verify compliance. We do not want more of these weapons to be developed, ready for some terrorist network to steal.  
            Jesus tells his disciple to put up his sword, and says, "Those who take up the sword, by the sword will perish" (Matthew 26:52). We don't want to take up weapons of mass destruction against others, and we don't want to die by weapons of mass destruction ourselves.
I'm serious about starting such a movement. Let me know what you think:

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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.

"Drawing Near to God by Being Among the Poor"
By Charles E. Poole

          As I write these words, the sun is setting on an October Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi. I have spent this day as I spend all weekdays, in neighborhoods that are variously described as Jackson’s “worst” or “most disadvantaged” or “most dangerous,” with varying degrees of accuracy and exaggeration.
          My ministry in these neighborhoods is on the decidedly practical side of pastoral: delivering diapers to this apartment, getting lights restored to that house, providing groceries to this family, beds for that familyall in the context of prayer and pastoral care, but also all very practical, and very “cornbread and peas,” to invoke a Shurdenism.
          But, in the midst of all that practical simplicity, there is the occasional “rustle of a wing,” the occasional moment when, in the words of the mystical poet Edward Taylor, “There are no words to wield this wonder.” It happens, actually, with some frequency. I’ll be driving along on a street littered with rusted-out cars, lined by fallen-down houses, populated by people living on the hardest edges of North American poverty, and it will happen. In my ear, or my head, or my heart (Who can say?) I will hear that old hymn,

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings and round me rings,

The music of the spheres.

          And over and over it will play, “This is my Father’s world.” THIS is my Father’s world; this side of town, this housing project, this “dangerous” corner, this netless basketball rim in the parking lot, this abandoned house that is home to a family, this charity hospital, this two-bedroom apartment with eight children; this is my Father’s world. And the practical becomes mystical, and the rustle of grocery bags delivered is somehow joined by the rustle of a wing or a wind or a voice or Something.
          All of which is simply to say what you probably already know, which is that being among the poor is somehow to draw near to God in ways that can be different and mystically surprising. You already know that because you have read the Bible, especially that long part in Matthew 25. So you already know that, actually, we should never be surprised to have a mystical meeting with God while on a practical mission among the poor. To the contrary, we should expect to be “hearing things” while we’re out there doing things.

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In Response To ...

"In Response to . . . The Current Affairs Bookshelf"
By Bruce T. Gourley

          As America was being rocked by a lurid Republican sex scandal just weeks before fall congressional elections, I visited the Current Affairs section of my local Barnes and Noble on a mission to determine just how many recent volumes have been written about the theocratic tendencies of the Religious Right, a theme that has become somewhat of a hot topic within the book world during the past two years
          In recent months I have repeatedly been asked for recommendations of books that examine the growing Christian nationalistic movement in America.  Readers of this Bulletin are already aware of several important volumes which analyze the efforts of the Religious Right to conform American government to their so-called “biblical worldview” on issues of morality.  These volumes include
Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament, by Randall Balmer; Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, by Michelle Goldberg; American Theocracy, by Kevin Phillips; and Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter.  All of these are excellent volumes worthy of a close read.  What you may not be aware of, however, is just how many other books have been published in the past sixty days and are now readily available in the Current Affairs section of your local bookstore.  These newest volumes turn a critical eye to the ambitions of the Religious Right in relation to the Republican Party and the American government in general.
          Among important August releases that examine the theocratic impulses of the Religious Right is
The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America, by National Public Radio’s Ray Suarez.  This volume examines the political and religious polarization created by the rise of the Religious Right.  Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive For Permanent Power by the Washington Post’s Thomas Edsall details the manner in which the Bush administration has effectively played to Religious Right core issues such as abortion and gay rights.  Ryan Sager’s The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party demonstrates that in a battle between the South and the West, religious conservatives are going to the mat to wrest control of their Party from its non-sectarian wing.  Losing Our Democracy: How Bush, the Far Right and Big Business Are Betraying Americans for Power and Profit by Mark Green, president of the New Democracy Project, argues that the theocons are helping lead America into a era of “new authoritarianism” characterized by religious intolerance. 
           In September, the publishing industry produced even more volumes focusing on Christian Nationalism.  Damon Linker’s
The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege examines how evangelical Christians have partnered with Catholic intellectuals to shape the Republican Party into the Party of God.  Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris takes the Religious Right to task from a non-Christian perspective.  Mel White’s Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right offers an inside examination (White was a long-time ghost writer for Jerry Falwell) of James Dobson and Falwell’s efforts to force fundamentalist views of sexuality on American society through the government.  Barry Lynn’s Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom draws from the author’s civil liberties expertise and experience in analyzing theocon's attempt to curtail religious freedom in America.  Missouri Sen. John Danforth’s Faith and Politics: How the “Moral Values” Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together offers a Christian politician’s insight (Danforth is an Episcopal minister) into why the Christian fundamentalist attempt to merge church and state is dangerous for the cause of Christ, the integrity of government and the world at large. 
           Is the recent, torrid interest in the theocratic impulses of the Republican-allied Religious Right a result of the upcoming congressional elections?  Most likely.  The unprecedented attention given to the subject of Christian Nationalism is indicative of the concerns that at least some Americans have with an increasingly hostile and militant-sounding Religious Right which dismisses Bush administration lies, cover up and deception while
claiming that the fiasco that is the Iraq War is a “noble cause”; is so embedded with the Republican Party as to dismiss the current homosexual child predator sex scandal as nothing more than a prank played by wayward teenagers; treats homosexuals as something other than full-fledged Americans; and looks to Puritan colonial America as a model for government.
           And if further evidence is needed to demonstrate that Americans have finally been stirred from their lethargy to take a stand against the dangerous designs of the Religious Right’s alliance with the Republican Party, consider these tidbits:  of the approximately 500 volumes in the Current Affairs section of Barnes and Noble, only two are anti-Hillary Clinton volumes, while the most common book topic is opposition to the Iraq War.
           In short, the Party appears to be over for the Religious Right.  If the recent bookshelf expose of their theocratic impulses is not enough to motivate voters to opposition, the homosexual child predator scandal should be the nail in the coffin of theocon ambitions for America, at least for the immediate future.  Nonetheless, I do hope that the literary world will continue to train a critical eye on the Christian nationalistic movement, as would our Baptist forefathers if were they alive today.

Visit Bruce's personal website at

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Recommended Online Reading for Informed Baptists
Compiled by Bruce Gourley

Young, Restless, Reformed
Christianity Today

"Already, this latest surge of Reformed theology has divided Southern Baptist churches and raised questions about the future of missions. Its exuberant young advocates reject generic evangelicalism and tout the benefits of in-depth biblical doctrine. They have once again brought the perennial debate about God's sovereignty and humans' free will to the forefront."

The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals
Christianity Today

The 50th anniversary edition of CT includes a list of the top 50 books that have shaped the evangelical movement in America.  Some of the volumes you will recognize, some you may not.  The #1 selection is probably not what you expect.

Who Has Been Using Whom?
New York Times

The Religious Right embraces the Republican Party as the Party of God, yet former deputy director of the President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiatives charges that Bush is merely using his religious allies for his own political ends.

In God's Name
New York Times

Read the Times investigation into how "American religious organizations benefit from an increasingly accommodating government."

Dates to

Dates to Note

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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