by Bruce Gourley, executive director
1) It’s a Miracle Baptists Exist Today! King James in England and colonial leaders in America wanted to eradicate the heretical little sect known as Baptists, while few in the 17th century general public even knew Baptists existed. Baptists who?
2) Today It’s a Miracle So Many People Call Themselves Baptists! The majority of American presidential campaigns from 1976 to the present have featured a Baptist as one of the major party’s nominees. Other than politicians, maybe you’ve heard of some of these folks: Ralph Stanley, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Carrie Underwood, Whitney Houston, Louis Armstrong, Oswald Chambers, John Grisham, Tim LaHaye, Kevin Costner, Chuck Norris, Reggie White, Joe Frazier, and Bill Moyers. All Baptists, of course. Are Baptists the most diverse faith group in the world? Does my cat like salmon?
3) Baptists Are a Global People. The future of Baptists is in the South … the Southern Hemisphere, that is: Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The BH&HS is international in scope, with members hearkening from many nations across the globe. Your gift to the Society contributes to the global Baptist witness.
4) Forgetting the Past is Costly. If you were to awake in the morning with no memories of anything prior to that moment, how would your life be impacted? So how much is your past worth? Does your church remember their past? And what would be the consequences if too many Baptists forgot their collective faith history, heritage and identity? The BH&HS produces and distributes resources for individuals and congregations. Your contribution assists the Society in helping Baptists remember and interpret their past, so that we can all move forward into an informed future.
5) Thomas Helwys and Tommy Douglas. Baptist laymen Helwys (1575-1616) sacrificed his life in England for the cause of religious liberty for future generations, while Baptist minister Douglas (1904-1986) was chosen by his fellow countrymen as “The Greatest Canadian” of all time, an honor that arose out of his commitment to living out the teachings of Jesus. (If you’ve not heard of Tommy Douglas, you owe it to yourself to Google him and then watch the movie). Helwys is a frequent subject in BH&HS publications, but Douglas deserves a biography focused on his life of faith. The Society would like to publish just such a volume, but we need funding to do so.
6) Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Lincoln’s abolitionist convictions were formed in part by his upbringing in an anti-slavery Baptist congregation, a thread of his life you can read about in the Society’s Baptists and the American Civil War project. King’s witness and work finally brought about the freedom for black Americans that Lincoln had envisioned, a story the Society has explored in BH&H Journal articles and other publications. Who will be the next Baptist to stand tall in the public eye and further advance the love of neighbor that Jesus commanded?
7) Andrew Smith, Melody Maxwell, Nathan Finn and David King. Four of the newest, youngest, and brightest Baptist historians in America today, and all are members of the Baptist History & Heritage Society. If you don’t know them, you should. You can meet them next year at the Society’s annual conference in Richmond, Virginia, May 20-22, 2013.
8] Delane Tew, Bill Pitts and Bonnie Oliver Brandon. Behind every successful non-profit is a great team of officers. The BH&HS is creative and cutting-edge in its mission of communicating Baptist history, heritage and identity to Baptists and the world, and to Delane, Bill and Bonnie we all owe thanks.
9) 2013. Like most non-profits, the Baptist History & Heritage Society each year depends on the generosity of individuals. Your year-end gift will help us close out this year on firm footing and prepare for a new year of conferences and seminars, print publications (including an excellent history of the International Baptist Theological Seminary, due to be released in May), digital resources (the third year of the critically-acclaimed Baptists and the American Civil War project, and more), local church resources, historical research, advocacy work, and so much more.
10) You! How much are your Baptist convictions worth to you? Many Baptists of the past endured terrible persecution or made great sacrifices in order to pass along to you the convictions you hold dear. An investment in the BH&HS is an acknowledgement of how much your own Baptist convictions mean to you and to those you love, as well as a down payment on a future in which your Baptist convictions will thrive for generations to come.
Year-end gifts to the Baptist History & Heritage Society are tax-deductible and may be made online by clicking on the button below:
Or you may postal mail a check to:
Baptist History & Heritage Society
151 Broadleaf Drive
Macon, Georgia 31210