Vol. 8 No. 2

  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

Bruce T. Gourley, Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin




In Response To . . . : Bruce T. Gourley

         "A Rural Renewal for Baptists?"

Celebrating 400 Years of Being Baptist: A Free Church Bulletin Insert Series

         "Separate Baptists"

The Baptist Soapbox: David D'Amico

         "Some Things I Learned As a Baptist at the United Nations"

Ministering Together in Community: A Baptist Women in Ministry Series

          Robin Anderson
          "Staff Relationships: Women and Men Working Together as Leaders"

The Baptist Heritage, Today: William Carey's Church, Moulton, England

          by David Gamston

Dates to Note

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In Response to . . . :  Currently the Interim Director of the Center for Baptist Studies, Bruce has been on the staff of the Center since 2004.  He previously served as a campus minister and professor of church history.  In addition, he is involved in a number of areas of moderate Baptist life through the medium of the Internet.

"A Rural Renewal for Baptists?"
By Bruce T. Gourley

           Baptists, a largely rural people until the twentieth century, are now confronting a rural crisis in the twenty-first century. Like other evangelical and mainline denominations, today's rural Baptist congregations attract few seminary-trained ministers. This trend within American Christendom has become so obvious that TIME Magazine recently ran a feature story entitled, Rural Exodus From American Churches.  According to the article, in the Midwest only one in five rural congregations is pastored by a full-time, seminary-trained minister.
          Why are today's seminary grads uninterested in country churches? The reasons appear to be many. To begin with, most of today's young seminary graduates grew up in metropolitan areas, accustomed to Starbucks and city life. Today's graduates, frequently incurring significant debt during their educational sojourn, are more likely to be attracted by the glimmer of large urban and suburban congregations than the rural, white wooden clapboard churches that offer meager salaries. In addition, few young people remain in the pews of country churches even as job descriptions for rural pastors seemingly hold little enticement for young ministers seeking the opportunity to be creative and innovative in ministry.
           In Baptist life today, rural churches with memberships of less than one hundred persons still account for more than half of all congregations in some regions of the country. Southern Baptists recognize the challenge inherent in the countryside, and one solution is for seminary-trained ministers to pastor multiple congregations. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, while comprised of fewer rural congregations, ministers in the poorest of rural areas through Together for Hope, an effort to transform communities and individuals by breaking the "cycle of economic disparity." Nonetheless, few moderate Baptist seminary graduates pastor country churches.
           Are churches destined to largely vanish from rural America, a victim of ceaseless migration to big cities and sprawling suburbs? Can twenty-first century Christianity learn anything from the small towns, hamlets, and farming communities that dot the countryside?
           Although neglected at the moment, small-church America may harbor the seeds of spiritual, cultural, and even global renewal.  Internally divided along the fault lines of urban poverty and an upwardly-mobile Blackberry generation, contemporary city dynamics foster little economic relief for the poor, do little to check self-focused consumerism, and in their inherent busyness tend to inhibit authentic community and stunt self-reflection.
           No less than one of America's most respected and gifted ministers, Barbara Brown-Taylor, left the city for the countryside and discovered a spiritual renewal that bridges the sacred and the secular. She discovered authenticity in simplicity, creativity in the presence of creation, and community in the lives of people. In short, leaving the city allowed Brown-Taylor to embark upon a journey that led to the discovery that time, rather than possessions or productivity, is the foundation of a healthy faith.
           In addition, the amazing legacy of one the most generous and selfless Baptists of all time, Millard Fuller, is rooted in rural America. His recent death mourned worldwide, Fuller devoted his life to building homes for the homeless throughout the world, personally eschewing financial success and city life for the simplicity of the countryside of southwest Georgia. Fuller was a neighbor of Jimmy Carter, a Baptist who at one time was the most powerful man in the world and who will be remembered as one of the greatest peacemakers in history, yet whose spiritual strength and global Christian commitment stems from a small Baptist church in a tiny farming community.
           True, city churches need pastors and urban problems must be addressed. But is it possible that the urbanization of American Christianity has at times sacrificed the best of community upon the altar of upward-mobility and the shrine of busyness? If so, then perhaps the key to restoring a healthy and dynamic balance in the life of Baptists and Christendom at large is more likely to be found in the pew of a small congregation on the plains of Wisconsin or in the piney woods of southwest Georgia, than among the theatre seats and holographic preachers of America's big cities. 

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Celebrating 400 Years of Being Baptist:  The Center for Baptist Studies and the Baptist History and Heritage Society present a twelve-month series of free church bulletin inserts for use in teaching Baptist heritage in the local church during the 400 year anniversary of Baptists. The image below is a copy of one side of this month's pdf document.  You can view each month's feature (in pdf format) here.

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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 David D' Amico, who with his wife Ana served as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship diplomatic missionaries to the United Nations.

"Some Things I Learned as a Baptist at the United Nations"
By David D'Amico


            It was a great privilege for my wife Ana and me to have represented the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as Non-governmental (NGO) representatives to the United Nations in New York from 1996 to 2004. During our sojourn in the most exciting city of the world, I learned a lot. My intellectual, spiritual, physical and vocational attitudes were transformed by the experiences.
            The UN is an imperfect institution, a confederacy of autonomy, where each nation state defends its status with pride. It is an institution organized in the early 1950s. Many believe it needs significant organizational reform. The Security Council membership, a vestige of the Cold War, stands in the way of reform despite the efforts of many nation states to have representation and the coveted “veto power.”
            The UN is still a symbol of the ideals of many in the world for a place where nations can reason together to improve the lot of humanity. The view of the 191 flags in front of the Secretariat building at
First Avenue symbolizes the aspirations of many.
            The Church Center of the UN (CCUN) is a multi-story building across from the UN headquarters. The building was erected in part by the efforts of Methodist women from around the country who collected funds and lobbied the denomination in the 1960s. In the first floor there is an interreligious chapel providing a haven for prayer, celebrations, and witness.
            Some religious principles guided the founding of the UN. These are observed and are vaguely present in symbolic and tangible waysthe chapel, the Millennium religious forum in 2000, the Millennium Goals for development, and the active involvement of religious NGOs,
            Religious bodies of all types from around the world have been actively involved with the UN since the beginning. Baptists have been represented at the UN since its beginnings. American Baptists have been more actively engaged until recent years. James Dawson, a Baptist stalwart, was instrumental in alerting Baptists about the value of the UN during the years leading to its founding. He was an active spokesperson to represent Baptist views about Human Rights and religious freedom. As the Chairperson of the Baptist Joint Committee of Public Affairs, now Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, he narrated in his memoirs the sense of expectancy he experienced when he attended, in 1945, the organizational meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco.  “To that meeting I carried a hundred thousand petitions from Baptists, North and South, white and Negro, asking that the Charter to be adopted would include a guarantee of full religious liberty for every human being.” [Dawson, A Thousand Months to Remember, p. 161]. 
 Dawson later addressed the Baptist World Congress in Copenhagen in 1947 setting high hopes for the value of the UN in world affairs.  “We hope also for the United Nations to inaugurate a new birth of religious freedom for the world.” [1947 Baptist World Congress Minutes, p. 71].
            Several UN General Secretaries have shared their personal religious convictions while in office. The most notable were Dag Hammarskjold and Kofi Annan. In 1996 the Methodist World Federation conferred upon Mr. Annan the Methodist Peace Prize. It was inspiring to hear Annan when he testified of his Methodist roots, his having been trained in a Presbyterian college in the US, and of his commitment to peacemaking. Later he was the recipient with the UN of the Nobel Peace Prize. Now retired, he is an ambassador for peace.
            Some Southern Baptist leaders discussed, during the 1950s and 1960s, how to have representation at the UN. Whereas the Christian Life Commission was the logical agency to represent Southern Baptists, and desired to have a voice and a representative at the UN, it did not have enough resources. The Language Missions division of the Home Mission Board profited from its evangelistic emphasis and financial strength and maintained a representative as a home missionary until the 1990s. It has continued its representation under a different mandate.
            During the early years of the UN, Southern Baptists were interested in the UN because of a fear of communism and a desire defend religious liberty in nations under the aegis of the Soviet Union. Elias Golenka was selected to represent Southern Baptists. He was a well prepared and incisive missionary. He emphasized the Communist threat. Because he had expertise in Eastern European issues he kept an ongoing alert to Southern Baptists in an area where Baptists were interested.
            During the years we ministered at the UN, CBF cooperated with the ecumenical community in revising “The Pillars of Peace,” a document approved by the National Council of Churches of the
US. We were invited to be members of the Task Force on the UN, an informal group composed of representatives of different Christian persuasions.
            The task force, in cooperation with the American Bible Society, launched the republication of the booklet, “Life in All Its Fullness: The Word of God and Human Rights.” One million copies were printed on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) in 1998 and distributed free of charge to interested churches and individuals.
            The Baptist constituency is concerned with many issues with which the UN deals constantly. Baptist distinctives and biblical principles are in accordance with the social programs of many agencies of the UN. The role of religion in the UN has been analyzed in a booklet, Religion and Public Policy at the UN, published in April 2002.
            CBF officially adopted the “Millennium Development Goals” of the UN in 2007 thanks to the intensive efforts of some enthusiastic members of “Younger Leaders Network.”
            It was for me a wonderful, stimulating and enriching period of my life to have ministered at the UN.

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Ministering Together in Community: A Baptist Women in Ministry Series:  Reverend Robin Anderson is associate pastor, education and outreach, at University Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. She serves as the coordinator of Baptist Women in Ministry.

"Staff Relationships: Women and Men Working Together as Leaders"
By Robin Anderson

In some ways, writing in 2009 about how women and men serving in ministry can effectively work together as leaders seems strange. But the truth is that women are still stepping into ministry positions in which they feel a need to prove their abilities to their co-workers and their churches, and many male pastors who are supportive of women in ministry find themselves suddenly serving with a female minister, wondering what the dynamic of their relationship should be like.  
            In no way do I consider myself to be an expert on staff relationships, but I have had the opportunity to serve in ministry with several different pastors and interim pastors. In some of these relationships, the pastor and I have experienced tension as we learned how to work together. Other relationships, however, have truly been wonderful experiences in which the pastor and I easily worked together, allowing our uniqueness to complement each other and making the most of each other’s strengths.  My hope is that each of us can have more of the second type of ministry experiences.
            In my experiences, when the pastor and I have struggled to discover how we could best serve together, one of two factors has been at play. Either I have felt a need to prove myself to my pastor or to the church or the pastor has been nervous about how to work closely with a female colleague and has had difficulty communicating to me how he wanted our relationship to function. In situations in which I felt a need to prove myself as a female minister, I sought to demonstrate how well I could accomplish tasks on my own, while the pastors I served with hoped that we would work together as a team. In these situations, I learned from being affirmed in the work that I was doing and benefited from being invited to be a part of collaborative projects. These steps gave me permission to ask for input or advice without feeling as though the pastor would find my skills to be inadequate.
            In situations in which the pastor has had reservations about how a man and woman work closely together, tensions ensued when the pastor tried to work with me in the same manner as he worked with men even though he was uncomfortable doing so.  For example, if the pastor has felt uneasy meeting alone with me but did so anyway, I sensed his nervousness, which, of course, also made me nervous. Having a productive meeting when both people are nervous is extremely uncomfortable! When these situations have arisen, the pastor and I have been able to work through them when we have communicated to each other the circumstances that make us uncomfortable so that neither of us had to wonder why the other seemed so uneasy. Then we could discuss alternatives to the situations that enable both of us to feel comfortable. In my experience, the issues that may make someone uneasy at first soon are overcome after a while if the ministers do not ignore the issues and allow the tension to grow.
            The truth is that women and men who serve together and who do not allow their differences to create tension between them have a wonderful opportunity to allow their uniqueness to strengthen each other’s ministry as well as the ministry of the entire church. These relationships can be amazing opportunities to collaborate, to grow, and to demonstrate the fullness of God to our churches!

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The Baptist Heritage, Today:  This month we bring to your attention a challenge facing William Carey's home church in Moulton, England. In 2005, Carey Baptist Church was on the itinerary of a Baptist Heritage Tour of England in conjunction with the Baptist World Alliance meeting in Birmingham. Pastor David Gamston graciously welcomed us, took us on a tour of the historic structure, and patiently answered our many questions. Now, Gamston relates a new challenge facing the congregation. Note: The photos below were taken by Bruce Gourley during the 2005 Baptist Heritage Tour.
Carey Baptist Church, Moulton, England
by David Gamston

              Carey Baptist Church is a small but active church situated in a large village on the outskirts of Northampton, England. We have a membership of some sixty people who vary in ages from their late twenties to their middle eighties. Our worship is varied and quite lively at times with the preaching of the word taking central stage. We have a number of young people’s groups within the church including Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade and a small group of young people who meet after church on Sunday evenings. We are involved in many aspects of village life and our rooms are used by various organisations throughout the week.
              This is a special church with historic significance being the church where William Carey, pioneer of Baptist missionary activities, was pastor before his removal to Leicester and his journey to India. Throughout the year we welcome many visitors who travel from near and far, as they come to see our church, visit the museum, and thank God for Carey’s vision and his willingness to take the gospel to other lands. I am privileged to be the minister here today.  I share with you now a few thoughts, my own and of others, on what makes this place so special.
              The Baptist witness in Moulton preceded William Carey’s settlement here in 1785 by perhaps more than a century. A religious census of the district dated in 1676 records 29 “dissenters” in the village and more specifically there are records of vigorous Baptist ministries by William Stanger and his son, Thomas, during the first half of the 18th Century. Concurrently with the “General” Baptist witness of the Strangers, a small group of “Particular” Baptists, enrolled at College Lane, Northampton, met regularly for worship at Moulton, and to these stalwart, if austere, pioneers the Baptist torch was passed when later the General Baptists embraced Unitarian doctrines and declined. It is clear, however, that the flame burned very low when Carey arrived in the village. “Pastor less for tens of years, their services had been irregular and rare.  For months their meeting was closed and fell in dilapidation and dishonour.”
              Part of the present structure dates from 1750, when Thomas Stanger took the lead in the erection of a Meeting House, but when Carey came this had “become so ruinous” that the congregation ran “the risqué of being buried” in it (words of Carey himself as recorded in Church Minutes). As a result of an appeal by Carey to his friends, the sum of £100 was raised, enabling him to repair the chapel and enlarge it to thirty feet square. His pulpit stood where there is now a tablet to his memory. There are records of a gallery extending round three sides of the building, but probably this was erected after Carey’s period in Moulton. A vestry and lecture room, with a large schoolroom was added in 1861 and the entrance of the church, from and including the gallery, was added in 1870.
              In 1955 a £5,000 extension scheme made possible the building of a new manse, followed three years later by the William Carey Memorial Hall. Most of the money required for this was given by our own members, but it is significant of the universal esteem in which the name of William Carey is held, that many Baptist friends in this and other countries gave us considerable financial help, which we are glad to acknowledge. In 1991 a vestibule was built to give a more spacious and welcoming entrance to the church and in the same year, in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society, the Moulton Art Group produced six fine painted panels depicting the life and work of William Carey which are displayed on the wall alongside his memorial tablet. In 1997, to meet the needs of a new generation, a far reaching three phase plan was proposed to refurbish the chapel, hall and ancillary rooms. At a cost of almost £200,000, which was entirely raised by the membership, phase one and two have now been completed. This year in 2009 we hope to bring the three phase plan to its completion as we refurbish the chapel. This will cost the sum of £230,000. In faith the membership have already given over two thirds of this amount but now need to find the remaining £40,000. This final stage of refurbishment desperately needs to go ahead as a severe infestation of worm in the interior woodwork makes the chapel unsafe for worship. In fact as in Carey’s day we fear that it “becomes so ruinous” that the congregation run “the risqué of being buried” in it. I appeal therefore to our many Baptist friends, some of whom have visited us here at Moulton, for prayerful concern and if possible financial help at this time. Any gift will be greatly appreciated and acknowledged. We go forward together in faith remembering the words of the great man himself “Expect great things from God: Attempt great things for God”.

Top photo - David Gamston talks with Buddy Shurden; middle photo - the exterior of Carey Baptist Church; bottom photo - the sanctuary of Carey Baptist Church. David Gamston may be contacted by email.

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Recommended Online Baptist Heritage Sources
Compiled by Bruce Gourley

Habitat for Humanity Founder Millard Fuller Dies
Associated Baptist Press

"Millard Fuller, a millionaire entrepreneur who gave away his fortune to create Habitat for Humanity International in 1976, died Feb. 3 after a brief illness. Fuller, 74, led the worldwide house-building ministry with his wife, Linda, for 29 years before both were fired in January 2005 following several months of conflict with their board of directors. Afterward Fuller formed a new organization, the Fuller Center for Housing."

Abraham Lincoln's Religious Uncertainty
U.S. News and World Report

Unlike that of recent American presidents, so eager to testify about their "come to Jesus" experiences, the exact nature of Abraham Lincoln's religious faith is hard to pin down.

Obama Details Plans for White House Faith-Based Office
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

In keeping with a campaign promise to establish a real partnership between the White House and faith-based social service providers, “not a photo-op,” President Barack Obama signed an executive order today revamping a White House office and naming an advisory council to help the administration develop and implement policy related to the provision of social services by faith-based and neighborhood organizations.


Dates to Note

February 23-24, 2009, T. B. Maston Lectures, Carson-Newman College Jefferson City, Tennessee. Monday, February 23, 7:30 P.M. Thomas Recital Hall. Tuesday, February 24, 9:30 A.M. First Baptist Church. Featured speaker: Reverend Paul Rauschenbush, Associate Dean of the Chapel, Princeton University.

March 5-6, 2009, Social Research Conference Series, The Religious-Secular Divide: The US Case, New York City. Join distinguished scholars and intellectuals in exploring the nature and future of religion, spirituality, and secularism in the United States, looking at their changing relations both historically and through contemporary debates. The keynote address will be delivered by Charles Taylor, Professor, Northwestern University. More information.

April 14-15, 2009, "The Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State," Macon, Georgia campus of Mercer University. Professor Randall Balmer, professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University, will deliver the lectures.

June 4-6, 2009, Baptist History and Heritage Society Annual Meeting, Huntsville, Alabama.  Hosted by First Baptist Church, Huntsville. Theme: Events Shaping Baptist Heritage in America. More information.

June 26-28, 2009, American Baptist Churches USA biennial meeting, Pasadena, California. More information.

July 2-3, 2009, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly, Houston, Texas.  More information.

July 15-18, 2009, International Conference on Baptist Studies V, Whitley College (Baptist College of Victoria), Melbourne, Australia. The conference takes Baptists as its subject matter, but participation is not restricted to Baptists, either as speakers or attendees. The theme is "Interfaces--Baptists and Others," which includes relations with other Christians, other faiths, and other movements such as the Enlightenment. It may be explored by means of case studies, some of which may be very specific in time and place while others may cover long periods and more than one country. Offers of papers to last no more than 25 minutes in delivery (although the full text may be longer) are welcome. Please submit the title to the conference coordinator, Professor David W. Bebbington, Department of History, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4TB, Scotland. A volume of conference papers will appear in the Studies in Baptist History and Thought series, published by Paternoster Press. The college will provide participants with full board over the three days of the meeting and all charges will be kept as low as possible.  Programs and application forms will be available in a few months.

September 27-29, 2009, Mercer Preaching Consultation, King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia.  Featured speaker: Dr. Walter Brueggemann. To register or for more information, contact Terri Massey by email or phone her at 478.301.2943.

If you know of a Baptist event that needs to be added to this list, please let us know.

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