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Walter B.


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Walter B. Shurden, the founding executive director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer, retired from Mercer University on 31 December 2007. Since his retirement he carries the title of “Minister at Large, Mercer University.” A native of Greenville, Mississippi, Dr. Shurden served at Mercer for almost twenty-five years as Callaway Professor of Christianity in the Roberts Department of Christianity in the College of Liberal Arts. During eighteen of those years, he served as Chair of the Roberts Department of Christianity and for almost seven years as Executive Director of The Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

Before coming to Mercer University in August, 1983, he taught at McMaster Divinity College (1965-66) in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; served as pastor of the First Baptist Church (1966-69) in Ruston, Louisiana; was Professor of Religion at Carson-Newman College (1969-1976), Jefferson City, Tennessee; was Professor of Church History (1976-1983) and Dean of the School of Theology (1980-1983) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Shurden has pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of Tennessee and Princeton Theological Seminary. 

He has written or edited fifteen books and published numerous articles. Among his books are: Not A Silent People: Controversies That Have Shaped Southern Baptists (1972) (rev., 1995 Smyth & Helwys); Associationalism Among Baptists in America, 1707-1814 (1980, Arno); The Sunday School Board: 90 Years of Service (1981, Broadman); The Life of Baptists in the Life of The World (1985, Broadman); The Doctrine of the Priesthood of Believers (1987, Broadman); Perspectives in Theological Education (1989); Proclaiming the Baptist Vision: The Priesthood of All Believers (1993, Smyth & Helwys); The Struggle For the Soul of the SBC: Moderate Responses to Fundamentalism (1993, Mercer Press); The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms (1993, Smyth & Helwys); Proclaiming the Baptist Vision: The Bible (1994, Smyth &Helwys); Proclaiming the Baptist Vision: The Church (1996, Smyth & Helwys); Going for the Jugular: A Documentary History of the SBC Holy War (1996, Mercer Press); Proclaiming the Baptist Vision: Religious Freedom (1998, Smyth & Helwys), Proclaiming the Baptist Vision: Baptism and The Lord’s Supper (1999, Smyth & Helwys), Not an Easy Journey: Some Transitions in Baptist Life (Mercer University Press, 2005), and Turning Points in Baptist History (Mercer University Press, 2008).

Distinctively Baptist: Essays in Baptist History edited by Marc A. Jolley and John D. Pierce is a book of essays written in honor of Dr. Shurden. A professor since 1969, Dr. Shurden has received the Distinguished Faculty Award from both Carson-Newman College and the College of Liberal Arts of Mercer University. The Board of Baptists Today presented him in 2005 the annual Judson-Rice Award in honor of his denominational leadership among Baptists.  The Baptist Joint Committee awarded him with the J. M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award in June 2006. The Baptist Joint Committee awarded him the J. M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award in June 2006, and the board of directors of the Associated Baptist Press gave him their Religious Liberty Award in October, 2008.

Dr. Shurden has served as President of the Southern Baptist Historical Society and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion and as Chair of the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. One of the founders of the Southern Baptist Alliance, he led in founding the William H. Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society. He also was a member of the first steering committee of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He has spoken widely at denominational gatherings and college campuses, and he has served as Interim Preaching Minister of many Baptist churches. 

His wife, Dr. Kay Wilson Shurden, also a native of Greenville, MS, is a marriage and family therapist, educator, author and speaker. She retired in 2000 as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Mercer Medical School in Macon, Georgia. The Shurdens have three grown children and six growing grandchildren.




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