Baptist Studies Bulletin February 2013

An Electronic Baptist Journal Bridging Yesterday and Today

[Vol. 12, No. 2]

Editor: Bruce T. Gourley, executive director, Baptist History & Heritage Society

The Baptist Studies Bulletin (BSB) is a free online journal produced by the Baptist History & Heritage Society (BH&HS) and offering scholarly analysis, informed editorials, book reviews, and special features for subscribers. You may access previous issues to or subscribe or unsubscribe from the BSB. Republishing of articles is allowed, but please provide credit and a link back to the Baptist Studies Bulletin.

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“Forgotten Baptist Heroes”
Richard M. Johnson (1780-1850): Sunday Mail Delivery
by Bruce T. Gourley

“Frank Impressions”
Can Jews, Christians and Muslims Coexist? (an answer from West Africa)
by Richard F. Wilson

“Reflections on Baptists and Culture”
A Trojan Horse: Religious Opposition to the Contraception Mandate
by Aaron Weaver

“The Baptist Factor”
by Charles W. Deweese

Register for the 2013 BH&HS Conference
“Faith, Freedom and Forgiveness: Religion and Civil War, Emancipation and Reconciliation in Our Times”
Richmond, Virginia, May 20-22, 2013

Dates and Events


Richard M. Johnson (1780-1850): Sunday Mail Delivery
by Bruce T. Gourley

“Forgotten Baptist Heroes” is a series about significant historical figures whose faith stories and contributions to Baptist heritage and identity have largely been forgotten in the public eye.

From the earliest days of our nation until 1912, the United States Postal Service operated seven days a week, making no respecter of religious sentiments and recognizing no holy days, a policy befitting a nation established upon church state separation. During this time, however, many Christians of the nineteenth century wanted to force the government to recognize the Christian Sabbath as a holy day, and thus prohibit Sunday mail operations. Baptists opposed the cessation of Sunday mail services, with forgotten Baptist hero Robert M. Johnson playing a pivotal role in the struggle against a conservative Christian coalition that wished to transform America into their own image.

The story begins early in the nineteenth century, at a time when the Second Great Awakening led to a renewed Christian vitality in America. Whereas in the late eighteenth century less than 10% of Americans actually attended church, the revivals of the Awakening led to church attendance in the 30%-40% range by the 1820s. As Baptists had envisioned, by establishing the new nation on the principles of religious liberty for all and church state separation, religious faith flourished in the world’s first free marketplace of religion.

Many Christians other than Baptists, however, had from the beginning criticized America’s founding as a secular nation. That these critics benefited from church state separation by prospering in American society seemed to be lost upon them. As the influence and power of the major denominations grew in early nineteenth century culture and society, so did their criticisms of America’s secular founding. At the same time, many became concerned that Sunday was not observed as a holy day outside of Christendom. In a push to set aside Sundays as a holy day in their communities, some Christians in the first decade of the century considered doing away with local mail delivery on Sundays.

Recognizing the threat that a growing majoritarian Christian presence represented to the constitutional separation of church and state, Congress (who oversaw the Postal Service) in 1810 passed a law mandating that every post office be open on Sunday for at least one hour. The law, not surprisingly, angered the emerging conservative Christian coalition determined to make Sunday an American holy day. In 1811, in an effort to address criticisms that Sunday mail delivery forced Christian postal service employees to violate their Sabbath, the postmaster, while refusing to stop Sunday mail delivery, offered a compromise: “to guard against any annoyance to the good citizens of the United States, he carefully instructed and directed the agents of this office to pass quietly, without announcing their arrival or departure by the sounding of horns or trumpets, or any other act calculated to call off the attention of the citizens from their devotions . . . .”

A more discreet approach to Sunday mail delivery did nothing to satisfy leading Christians of the day. By the 1820s and led by eminent Presbyterian leaders of the day, conservative Christians had re-framed their criticisms of America as a secular nation by arguing that, based on the renewed presence and influence of Christianity in culture and society, the nation was in reality a Christian nation. As a Christian nation, therefore, the United States government must officially recognize the weekly holy day of the country’s majoritarian faith and thus stop Sunday postal mail services. Petitions to stop “Sunday desecration” flooded Congress.

Against the backdrop of an era of religious revival and Christian ascendancy, the Christian coalition for stopping Sunday mail services presented a very real challenge to the government. In addition, the larger movement to tear down the wall of separation between church and state — a wall Baptists in America had advocated since the 1630s — outraged Baptists. In the public discourse that ensued, Baptists publicly opposed the prospect of the U.S. government granting preferential treatment to Christians or any other religious group, declaring that halting Sunday mail delivery would violate the nation’s Constitution.

During the heightened Sunday mail crisis of the 1820s, U.S. Senator Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky chaired the congressional Committee on Post Office and Post Roads. Col. Johnson was a hero of the War of 1812 and a Baptist. A leader among Baptists of Kentucky, the senator in his earlier years had established a Baptist academy in his home state for the education of young Native Americans. Now, the prospect of the U.S. government granting favoritism to Christians propelled Johnson onto the national stage as a leader among Baptists of America.

Working with Obadiah Brown, prominent bi-vocational pastor of the First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. and an administrator within the U.S. Postal Service, Sen. Johnson in 1829 formulated an official Senate response to the anti-Sunday mail service coalition.

Entitled “Report on the Transportation of Mails on Sunday,” Johnson and Brown’s document was adopted by the U.S. Senate. The report reiterated the nation’s founding upon a secular Constitution and the strict separation of church and state. In part the report read:

“What other nations call religious toleration, we call religious rights. They are not exercised in virtue of governmental indulgence, but as rights, of which government cannot deprive any portion of citizens, however small. Despotic power may invade those rights, but justice still confirms them. Let the national legislature once perform an act which involves the decision of a religious controversy, and it will have passed its legitimate bounds. The precedent will then be established, and the foundation laid for that usurpation of the Divine prerogative in this country, which has been the desolating scourge to the fairest portions of the old world. Our Constitution recognises no other power than that of persuasion, for enforcing religious observances. Let the professors of Christianity recommend their religion by deeds of benevolence — by Christian meekness — by lives of temperance and holiness. Let them combine their efforts to instruct the ignorant — to relieve the widow and the orphan — to promulgate to the world the gospel of their Savior, recommending its precepts by their habitual example: government will find its legitimate object in protecting them. It cannot oppose them, and they will not need its aid. Their moral influence will then do infinitely more to advance the true interests of religion, than any measures which they may call on Congress to enact.”

Sen. Johnson then recommended that the Senate consider the controversy settled. In so doing, he noted of the anti-Sunday mail services coalition: “these petitions and memorials in relation to Sunday mails, were but the entering wedge of a scheme to make this government a religious, instead of a social and political, institution; they were widely circulated, and people were induced to sign them without reflecting upon the subject,’ or the consequences which would result from the adoption of the measure proposed. There was nothing more improper than the interference of Congress in this matter.”

The controversy, not surprisingly, did not end with Johnson’s statements and the Senate’s decision to continue Sunday postal services. The following year, John Leland, Baptist evangelist and church state champion widely recognized as one of the leading Baptist figures North and South, wrote to Johnson, declaring in part:

Should Congress indulge the petitioners, and pass a law to stop the transportation of the mail on every Sunday, it would be a nest-egg for themselves and for others. Encouraged by success, they would next proceed to have the days of Christmas, and Easter, and their associations and synods exempted in the same way, and where would it end? The Sabbatarians, with the Jews, finding Congress flexible, would, with equal right, claim a law to sanctify Saturday for their convenience. Whenever a legislature legalize holy-days, creeds of faith, forms of worship, or pecuniary reward for religious services, they intrude into the kingdom of Christ, and impeach the wisdom of the divine law-giver, for not knowing how, or his goodness, for not giving all laws necessary in his government. The deadly pill, at first, will always be rolled in honey. The honor of religion, the spread of the gospel, the piety and research of the reformers, the good of society, the safety of the state, and the salvation of souls, form the syrup, in which the poisonous pill is hidden. It is from men, high in esteem for holiness and wisdom, that the worst of usages and most cruel laws proceed; for base characters defeat their own wishes. The heart of King Asa was perfect all his days, yet he oppressed some of the people was mad at the seer who reproved him, and made a law that whosoever would not seek the Lord should be put to death.

Admit of the principle that religion is an institute of state policy, and the people hold their liberty by the tenure of the will of the legislature, which is very changeable, often corrupt, and many times very cruel. Admit of the principle, and you approve of that which has reared an inquisition, and drenched the earth with blood.

Many plead for an equality of all Christian societies, and plead as strongly that they should become bodies politic, and be supported by the civil law. If this is proper for Christian societies, it is as proper for Jews, Pagan or Mahometan societies; but the liberty contended for, should be guaranteed to each individual, as his inalienable right, which cannot be meddled with, without usurpation in the rulers, which turns them to tyrants.

Also in 1830, Leland wrote a public essay entitled “Transportation of the Mail,” in which he scolded those who would Christianize America. Noting that America’s religious diversity ranged from paganism to Christianity and Islam to Judaism (and that each religion had its own holy days), he declared that the government had no business enacting theological mandates regarding holy days and thus tearing down the wall of separation between church and state:

“If any improvement has been made on this subject, from the days of Constantine, until the present time, it consists in the discovery, found out by long experience, “that the only way to prevent religion from being an engine of cruelty, is to exclude religious opinions from the civil code.” Let every man be known and equally protected as a citizen, and leave his religious opinions to be settled between the individual and his God: keeping this in view, that he who does not worship God in the way he chooses, does not worship him at all. Roger Williams, William Penn, and the early settlers of New York, embraced this principle, which has been interwoven in the constitution of government for the United States.

The powers given to Congress are specific-guarded by a ‘hitherto shalt thou come and no further.’ Among all the enumerated powers given to Congress, is there one that authorizes them to declare which day of the week, month, or year, is more holy than the rest-too holy to travel upon? If there is none, Congress must overleap their bounds, by an unpardonable construction, to establish the prohibition prayed for. Let the [anti-Sunday mail] petitioners ask themselves the question. If Congress should assume an ecclesiasticopolitical power, and stop the mail on the seventh day, and let it be transported on the first, would that satisfy them? If not, are they doing as they would be done by?”

While the U.S. Senate, with the support of Baptists throughout America, held firm to church state separation, the Sunday mail controversy consumed the energies of Congress throughout 1830 and beyond. Leland continued writing on the subject during the decade. In 1833, Sen. Johnson, on the strength of his defense of church state separation, was nominated as a candidate for the vice-presidency of the United States. In a nominating speech, the following lines were uttered of Johnson:

“Colonel Johnson had not only a regard for the political, but also for the religious, welfare of his country, when he drafted these reports. He had been instructed, by the history of the past, that in proportion as a sect becomes powerful, from whatever cause, it retrogrades in piety, and advances in corruption and ambition. He was aware that the Christian religion no longer partook of the character of its Founder, after the civil arm was wielded in its behalf. After it was taken into keeping by Constantine, that royal cut-throat– that anointed parricide — that baptized murderer — from that time to the present, with but few intervals, it has been wielded as a political engine, prostrating the liberties and paralyzing the energies of the nations.”

Richard M. Johnson became the vice president of the United States in 1837, remaining in office until 1841, the only Baptist to hold the position in the 19th century. As conservative Christian opposition to Sunday mail operations continued and grew, Johnson, Brown, Leland and the collective Baptist voice of 19th century America supported Sunday mail delivery (with the exception of Baptists of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War) on the grounds that religious liberty and church state separation demanded that government not grant privilege to religious faith of any kind, and demanded that citizens not be forced to honor any given religious beliefs.

Eventually, however, by 1912 the din of voices of non-Baptist Christian ministers calling for the government to cease operations on the Christian holy day — coupled with the desire of postal workers to have one day, any day! — off of work, led to the cessation of Sunday postal operations in America. Since that day, many other barriers protecting American citizens from being forced to honor majoritarian religious beliefs have fallen.

Note: A collection of the text of historical documents from 1810-1833 related to the Sunday mail controversy, including all documents referenced above, is available online here.


Can Jews, Christians and Muslims Coexist? (an answer from West Africa)
By Richard F. Wilson

Richard F. WilsonRick Wilson is a teaching theologian at Mercer University, where he is chair of the Roberts Department of Christianity. Rick also is the current chair of the Commission on Christian Ethics of the Baptist World Alliance, and a member of the First Baptist Church of Christ at Macon, Georgia, where he has served as a deacon and a Sunday School teacher. His passions include the post-war recovery of Liberia, creative cooking, and the mysteries of professional baseball.


I offer Exhibit A: the life and legacy of Edward Wilmot Blyden. Imagine a man who, as a child, lived next to a synagogue in the West Indies and attended a Dutch Reformed church. Imagine, further, the same man as a young adult who arrived in Liberia under the auspices of the New York Colonization Society and, with funding from white American Presbyterians, was educated in a mission school in Monrovia, where his fascination with Jewish history helped create a passion to learn Hebrew as a way of getting to the bottom of false claims that divine providence had assigned the descendants of Ham to a life of servitude. Now imagine the same man in the twilight of a phenomenal vocation as teacher, missionary, statesman, explorer, and activist sitting quietly in the administrative of a mosque in Sierra Leone overseeing a national program for the education of Muslim children.

Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1912) is the real man you imagined. His life and legacy don’t get the attention they deserve, especially in the contemporary context created by the perceived and real conflicts among the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. That is a shame. I add that, for those who give attention to Blyden, there is more than Abrahamic religious harmony that animated this intellectual giant of the nineteenth century. Start turning the pages of Blyden’s life and one will find the source of a broad, long shadow still visible in many places early in the twenty-first century.

In 1898 Blyden published an essay, “The Jewish Question,” in a British periodical. He began with reminiscence: “I was born in the midst of Jews in . . . St. Thomas.” He comments upon his excitements about “the annual festivals and feasts,” especially the “Day of Atonement,” recounting how he and his Christian friends assembled on “a terrace immediately above” the synagogue to “look down upon the mysterious assembly.” He concludes the introduction by noting that the “awe and reverence” of those experiences “have followed me all the days of this life.”

The essay goes on to engage the seminal work of Theodor Hertzl, the intellectual father of Zionism. Blyden suggests that “the Jew has a far higher and nobler work to accomplish . . . than establishing a political power in one corner of the earth.” He concludes: “The message of the great Zionist movement to the Jews, . . . is to rise from their neutrality and cooperating with . . . their children—Christianity and Islam—work for the saving of mankind . . . from a deadening materialism.”

Blyden’s context, West Africa, prevented him from much practical engagement of “the Jewish question,” but that was not the case with Christianity and Islam. In 1887 Blyden’s sweeping life’s work, Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race (CINR) was published; it was so well received that the next year it came out in a second edition. The book remains in print.

The connecting thesis of CINR is driven by missions. Blyden acknowledges the common origins of Christianity and Islam in the bosom of Abraham (i.e., Judaism) while at the same time noting the differences among the religions. In the end Blyden appeals for and practically engages cooperation. His profound sense of providence led Blyden to conclude that missions should be about basic education—teaching children to read and write and think and grow in place where they are planted. Pointing to the successes of Muslim missions surrounding the mosque school where children became literate in more than the Qur’an, Blyden called for Christian missions to invest in education, too. He was convinced that Christians and Muslims (and, by association, Jews) could and should teach the children and make room for the spirit of God to transform Africa, not by importing foreign cultures under the guise of religion.

On 8 February 2013 I was in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was one hundred and one years—plus one day—since Blyden died there (click the photo to the left to read the inscription on Blylden’s grave marker). My Liberian colleague and friend, Olu Q. Menjay, and I visited Blyden’s grave in the company of his great-granddaughter, Isa Blyden. For eight hours she escorted us through Freetown, showing us where Edward Wilmot Blyden lived out his passions for education, missions, and harmony. The highlight of the day was, for me, a visit to the mosque in the Foulah district of Freetown where Blyden established the first school for Muslim children in West Africa. We met the imam and were warmly greeted by Muslim men and women arriving for Friday prayers.

Coexistence is possible. I saw it and experienced it in Freetown.


A Trojan Horse: Religious Opposition to the Contraception Mandate
By Aaron Weaver

Aaron WeaverAaron Weaver is Communications Manager for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  Weaver blogs at The Big Daddy Weave and is the author of James M. Dunn and Soul Freedom (Smyth & Helwys, 2011).

The Obama Administration recently unveiled new rules to resolve the controversy over the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate.”  Churches and other church-related groups such as associations and denominations continue to be fully exempt from the requirement to provide contraception coverage on their health insurance plans.  However, a new proposed rule will grant an accommodation to a non-profit religious employer with a moral objection to providing contraception coverage.  This accommodation would direct the health insurance company that the employer contracts with to provide separate coverage to an employee on the insurer’s dime.

Not surprisingly, this accommodation did not satisfy the Obama Administration’s many critics who have loudly insisted that the president is waging a “war on religion.”  Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, called these new proposed rules “minor modifications” that are “a distinction without a difference, a work-around that doesn’t work.”  Anderson declared that the new changes are “bad news for all who love religious freedom.”  The Catholic Church did not welcome and affirm the new proposal either.  David Gibson of Religion News Service captured Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s response with a report titled “Catholic Bishops rebuff modified contraception mandate.”

Just three days after these new rules were announced, the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics agency signed an amicus brief filed with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals which concluded that the new rules continue to violate both religion clauses of the First Amendment.  Denny Burk, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and popular bombastic blogger, declared that the Obama Administration’s original rule proposal “was a shell-game, and this latest ‘change’ is only more of the same.”  Burk continued, “Obamacare’s abortion mandate is the most egregious violation of religious liberty that I have ever seen.  It must not stand.  Let’s hope and pray that it doesn’t.”

Samuel “Dub” Oliver, president of East Texas Baptist University, also voiced his displeasure with the new proposed rules.  When his school filed a federal lawsuit alongside Houston Baptist University last year, Oliver claimed that the Obama Administration had offered “the narrowest definition of a religious institution ever propagated by the federal government.”  In response to the new proposal, Oliver told a local reporter, “People say you won because the government has said you don’t have to provide [contraception] as part of your health plan.  That’s what they’re saying, but they’ve created this separate thing that we’re going to have to indirectly fund or attach ourselves to.”

There is something incredibly ironic about a university president complaining about having to “indirectly fund” something deemed morally objectionable.  Baptist schools like East Texas Baptist might not be able to survive in the absence of indirect (and direct) funding from the government.  When state legislators were considering cuts to the taxpayer-funded Tuition Equalization Grant scholarship program, Oliver and every other president from a private Christian college and university in the state of Texas banded together and started shouting from the rooftops.

For the sake of honesty, Oliver and other outspoken opponents of the contraception mandate ought to acknowledge that indirect funding is not some new heinous crime against religious liberty.  Taxpayers across our nation at the local, state, and federal levels have been forced to indirectly (sometimes directly) subsidize something they do not agree with whether it be cervical screenings at Planned Parenthood, a misguided war or military action or a thoroughly sectarian (distinctly evangelical) education offered at Oliver’s East Texas Baptist.

I do wonder whether this continued controversy is really about religious liberty.  Let’s be honest here, Christian conservatives have not done a great job defending the Helwysian vision of universal religious freedom in recent decades.  They have, however, done a swell job of advocating for a “religious liberty” that privileges Christians above all.  This penchant for privilege is seen in their consistent support for voucher programs in the evangelical-dominated South and no-strings-attached federal aid to Christian churches and organizations to provide social services.  So, it is a bit humorous to see the Southern Baptist ethics agency invoke the Establishment Clause in their argument against the contraception mandate.  Southern Baptists, like most Christian conservatives, have flippantly disregarded the Establishment Clause for many years now.

Southern Baptist executive O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Financial Resources, recently tipped his hat to what I believe is the real motivation of many Christian conservatives in this ongoing controversy.  Hawkins said of the new proposed rules: “We recognize, with regret, that these proposed regulations do not achieve the ultimate goal of removing objectionable forms of contraception coverage from the health care arena.”  Did you get that?  Religious liberty is not the ultimate goal.  The ultimate goal is not an expansive exemption for those with a conscience claim.  The ultimate goal is to deny women access to contraception!  Wow.  Hawkins should be thanked for his honesty.  For the sake of religious liberty, let’s hope others will be more honest moving forward.


By Charles W. Deweese

Charles Deweese is retired executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society. He lives in Buford, Georgia.

What is the Baptist factor in world religion? In Christianity? In Protestantism? In dozens of Baptist sub-denominations? And in the vast differences among individual Baptists.

What characterizes Baptists in this huge mix of religious options, especially since Baptists have existed for only about 20 percent of Christian history, and since they choose increasingly not to include the word “Baptist” in their church names? The Baptist factor includes at least the following components, most derivative, a few original. The particular combination of elements shapes the Baptist process.

Definitional elusiveness. Defining Baptists in today’s world can get sticky. Most Baptists practice a believer’s church; others come close to infant baptism. Most believe in religious liberty, but some only want it for themselves and their personal viewpoints. Most Baptist pulpits use men only; a growing number advocate women ministers. Some Baptist preachers wear robes; others wear blue jeans. Some Baptists allow history to fire up their creative imagination; others let the stories of the past dissolve into irrelevance. Some claim a biblical basis for their beliefs; others let denominational leaders do their thinking. Some do things certain ways simply because Grandpa did them those ways; others baptize their intelligence and use it in their faith ventures. What is a Baptist? I strongly urge readers to use the resources of the Baptist History and Heritage Society to help gain essential insights for moving past an elusive identity.

Biblical, but, at times, short-sighted, ethics. Some Baptists have constructed ethical systems that have subjected blacks to slavery, women to second-class citizenship, immigrants to the lowest wage levels, and gays to condemnation. In fact, at times, Baptists have created profoundly disturbing ways of bypassing Christ’s teachings to care for one another. Simultaneously, other Baptists, who pay closer attention to the life of Jesus, express concern for all God’s people. They have learned that exclusiveness just won’t cut it. They care for and minister to people without partiality. They seek peace for all. The Baptist ideal strives for a genuine sense of non-discriminating compassion and justice for all people who hurt. While their ethics sometimes fail them, Baptists really do advocate biblical ethics.

High-octane principles. Certain values have held sway throughout Baptist history in spite of all challenges, variations, and fractures.

Explosive freedom. Baptists have pounded their way through history by knocking down doors of conformity and uniformity and by installing new doors of dissent, nonconformity, religious liberty, and ministry to all. Confessions are voluntary. Worship is free. The church is free. The press is free. Theological education is free. “Free” does not mean without cost; it means without compulsion. Freedom explosions dominate the 400-plus-year timeline of the Baptist story. That must never change. And the fight for freedom must never end.

Respect for appropriate authority. Christ is Lord. The Bible is the sole written authority for faith and practice. Congregational church government has meaning. The individual conscience is vitally important. Discriminating among authorities is the key here. Imposed authorities, such as power-hungry preachers and denominational creeds, must be scrutinized and rejected. Empty church rituals that control education and worship deserve to be thrown out and replaced by meaningful New Testament models. Reliance on appropriate authority adds meaning to the Baptist way.

Cooperation around common ministries. Will Baptists ever get unified enough to recognize that they all could work together in missions, evangelism, and social ministries? The answer is no. But the possibility of breaking down some barriers always exists. If cooperation can lead to more effective joint ministries, go for it. If such cooperation seems impossible to attain, Baptists can shake dust and do what they can with those who will cooperate. Cooperative ministry and missions must be done regardless of the shapes Baptist life takes. Baptists have made global impacts by sending missionaries throughout the world, creating churches and academic institutions in numerous countries, and sacrificing themselves defending religious liberty for all. These kinds of cooperation merit intense joint support.

Appreciation for the right to think for oneself. Each and every individual person in Baptist life is paramount in the overall scheme of things. Only individual believers should be baptized. Every layperson stands front and center in Baptist life. Every minister is urged to think and study before preaching and leading. The individual soul is competent. The priesthood of all believers is alive and well both for personal prayer and cooperative ministry. Allow someone to think for them, and Baptists cease to be Baptists. While a large variety of opinion dominates efforts to define Baptists, such variety outweighs the value of imposed opinion every day and in every way.

So what is the Baptist factor––The 400-plus-year, never-ending explosion of freedom emphases propels the creative imagination of Baptists toward biblical ideals. Baptists view authority, cooperation, individualism, and compassion for the masses as pivotal.

Explore the Baptist factor in your own way. That is a good discipline. We can learn from one another. Your conclusions will likely differ from mine. That is what makes being Baptist so much fun. Baptists have so much sinfulness to confess, so many invaluable contributions to be grateful for, and so much potential for good to offer current and future generations.


“Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness: Religion and Civil War, Emancipation and Reconciliation in Our Time”
Richmond, Virginia, May 20-22, 2013

fallofrichmondThe annual meeting of the Baptist History & Heritage Society is shaping us as the largest and most significant conference in the history of the Society. In conjunction with the Virginia Baptist Historical Society and the Center for Baptist Heritage and Studies, we are exploring the theme of “Faith, Freedom and Forgiveness: Religion and the Civil War, Emancipation and Reconciliation in Our Time.” Hosted by the University of Richmond and Virginia Union University and timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the conference explores the role of religion during the war for freedom and the 150 years that have followed. Renowned Civil War historians Harry S. Stout (Yale Divinity School) and Edward L. Ayers (University of Richmond) are headlining the conference. Black and white Baptist and other religious leaders from Richmond and Washington, D.C. will be making presentations on Racial Reconciliation. The program includes tours of Civil Rights museums and special lunch and dinner events. Pre-conference events include tours of Civil War battlefields and special Sunday programs in churches throughout Richmond. If you attend only one religious history conference in 2013, this is the one you don’t want to miss! Click here to view the conference program and to register.


Upcoming events of interest to Baptists

February 25-27, 2013 — Churchworks, Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Join Princeton University professor and author Kenda Creasey Dean to discuss the church, culture and our response to the times in which we find ourselves. ChurchWorks combines worship and small group time in a setting where ministers deepen their understanding of ministry, discover new ideas and meet others who are also in vocational ministry. More information.

March 10, 2013 — The Glenn Chancel Choir presents their spring concert March 10, 7:00 PM in the sanctuary of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church. Titled, “Fire of Love, Most Perfite,” the one hour concert comprises choral works with strings, guitar, and organ. There is no admission charge – an offering will be taken. For more information see  Contact: Nancy Buckhannan (404) 272-2051

March 10-13, 2013 — Advocacy in Action, Washington, D.C. Join the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on a three day journey to become a voice for the world’s poor and marginalized, to advocate for religious liberty, and to witness a local missional congregation in action. More information.

April 5-7, 2013 — Alliance of Baptist Annual Gathering: “Little Altars Everywhere: Creating, Learning, Forming.” First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina. More information.

April 9-10, 2013 — The Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures On Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State: “Oh, What a Touchy Subject!” by J. Brent Walker, Executive Director, Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, Washington, D.C. Stetson University, Deland, Florida.  More information.

April 25, 2013Baptist Today’s 30th Anniversary Celebration. First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia. To register and for more information.

May 20-22, 2013 – BH&HS Annual Conference, “Civil War, Emancipation and Reconciliation” (University of Richmond). More information.

November 14-16, 2013 – Judson Conference 2013, a joint conference sponsored by the American Baptist Historical Society and McAfee School of Theology. More information.
We welcome submissions to this list of Baptist events.