Vibrant Future, Timeless Heritage

Announcing a New Resource from the Baptist History & Heritage Society:

“Hopeful Apocalypse: Charting a Baptist Future”

The Society is premiering today a new video resource on Baptist Identity featuring Dr. Bill J. Leonard, Founding Dean and Emeritus Professor at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, NC. The video is entitled “Hopeful Apocalypse: Charting a Baptist Future” and focuses on many of the significant changes which have taken place within American Christianity in the last fifty years. Dr. Leonard asks:
  • What does the changing sociology of Sunday mean for the Church of the 21st century?
  • How do 21st century Baptists make a case for a Believers’ Church?
  • Why are Americans distancing themselves from churches in significant numbers?
  • How are religious experiences articulated and passed on to new generations?
  • Can Protestants make a gospel case without culture-privilege?
Also included are suggestions on ways Baptist congregations can respond positively with strategies for the future in order to meet the challenges of the new day in which we live, including the “retelling of the Jesus story.”
The video was recorded before a live audience on the campus of Wake Forest University and is designed for individual study, Sunday School classes, small group discussions, webinars, and large group presentations. A brief question and answer period follows the presentation and a discussion guide is available to encourage reflection and discussion.
The Baptist History and Heritage Society is grateful to the following organizations whose generous gifts make this video resource possible:
  • The Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation
  • Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina
  • Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global
Download this new free video resource here.
Download the discussion guide here.



The 2021 BHHS Annual Conference

The 2020 annual conference on “Baptists and Public Advocacy” at Samford University was canceled due to the COVID-19 emergency, and although our hope had been to reschedule the event with the same theme and venue next year, Samford University is understandably not accepting requests from outside groups for spring semester 2021. Because of this limitation and continuing uncertainty about travel and large group gatherings extending well into 2021, the Society’s annual conference next year will be held as a virtual event May 27-28, 2021.
The theme remains the same as previously announced — “Baptists and Public Advocacy” — and persons whose paper proposals were accepted earlier this year will be included in the 2021 conference. Those persons who do not wish to participate have until February 1, 2021 to withdraw, and additional paper proposals will be received up until that time. Paper proposals and additional questions about the conference may be directed to:
Dr. John M. Finley, Executive Director
Registration will open by March 1, 2021 and additional information about the conference will be forthcoming in future Updates from the Society.

Dr. John M. Finley serves as the executive director of the Society. Previously, Finley was pastor of the historic First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia., where he served for nearly twenty-five years. A native of St. Louis, Missouri., Finley is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received his Ph.D. in Baptist History with a dissertation examining the life and ministry of Edwin Charles Dargan.

Finley served as a Teaching Fellow under renowned Baptist historian Walter B. Shurden and also studied under historian Samuel S. Hill at the University of Florida. He did post-doctoral study at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic (1998, 2009); the Evangelische Akademie in Berlin, Germany (1998); the University of Durham in England (2004); and The Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland (2009).

Over the past four decades, Finley has held numerous civic, denominational and interfaith leadership roles with organizations such as Savannah United Ministries, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia, Georgia Baptist Historical Society, William H. Baptist Heritage Society (President, 2005-2006), and is a current member of the Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity of the Baptist World Alliance.

A champion of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and relationships, Finley has represented the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship since 2015 in the role of Observer at proceedings of the National Council of Churches (NCC). He has also represented CBF as an Observer to Christian Churches Together in the USA (2007-2014) and the Faith and Order Commission of NCC (2004-2007). He is the founder of the Savannah-based Congregations in Service, an interfaith volunteer service program.

Finley is the author of numerous columns and articles on Baptist history and since 2001 has been a contributor to He is married to Norma Kaye Vaughan and they have three adult children.

Dr. Finley may be contacted by email –


To learn more about the Society, use the links below: