April 2005

From the Ground Up: New Testament Foundations for the 21st Century Church. : Friday, April 29, 2005

April 29 2005 by J. Scott Horrell. Kregel Publications. 2004. 106 pages. $11.99

From the Ground Up: New Testament Foundations for the 21st Century Church. : Friday, April 29, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005

From the Ground Up: New Testament Foundations for the 21st Century Church.

By J. Scott Horrell. Kregel Publications. 2004. 106 pages. $11.99
Review by Wayne Hager

This is a small book that that is packed with a much needed analysis of the concept of church. Most books about the church in recent years have focused on programs and strategies for reaching people with new ministries, worship services etc. This book takes us back to the basics of what church, the Greek ekklsesia, is supposed to be.

In particular, Horrell forces us in his discussion to consider what is truly important and unimportant in the church. Another way of looking at this is what is appearance and what is substance. Horrell is especially equipped to help in this analysis because he brings a third world perspective to the discussion. He has seen the church function differently than it does in America. This has helped him, and provided his motivation, to get beyond cultural expressions to the New Testament foundations. In the model that Horrell proposes there can, and should be, many different expressions of church, while still maintaining commitment to the core of the gospel. A helpful insight Horrell makes is that what we do as church goes a long way toward saying who we are. In order for us to say the right things to the world around us and to our own members, we need to be clear on what the characteristics the church should embody and communicate.

This book is helpful for those struggling with new expressions of worship, new outreach strategies, etc. When these new expressions are measured according to the foundations that Horrell explores, we are liberated from the tendency to immediately jump to labeling anything new as not scriptural or anti-gospel. The contribution this book can make to the life of a particular church is much greater than its size would indicate.

4/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by J. Scott Horrell. Kregel Publications. 2004. 106 pages. $11.99 | with 0 comments

BSUs seek names of incoming cadets : Friday, April 29, 2005

April 29 2005 by

BSUs seek names of incoming cadets : Friday, April 29, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005

BSUs seek names of incoming cadets

The Baptist Student Union at the United States Air Force Academy would like to contact the men and women reporting to the Academy June 29 and 30. For those arriving June 29, we will meet them at the airport, provide free lodging, meals, transportation, and take them to the Academy at the appointed time on June 30. For those arriving June 30, the Air Force Academy buses will meet them, but we would like to know of their coming so we can make contact once they have arrived. This is an opportunity to meet smiling faces and make new Christian friends before beginning Basic Cadet Training. If pastors, parents, relatives, friends or new cadets will contact us with name, address, telephone and email address we will contact them to secure flight arrival times and provide further information. The Air Force Academy Baptist Student Union is a widely recognized organization and is here for the purpose of contributing to cadets' spiritual growth. Through the support of the North American Mission Board, Colorado Baptist General Convention, Pikes Peak Baptist Association and local churches, the BSU provides a most active and effective ministry. We seek to minister to cadets through Bible study, discipleship and evangelism training, local church involvement, worship, fellowship, along with mission and ministry endeavors.

Please contact: Mary Kathryn Kelly, 820 Timbertop Court, Colorado Springs, CO 80921; phone, (719) 484-0347 or (719) 660-1676; email, wwmkk@earthlink.net or Bill Gandy, 550 West Woodmen Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80919; phone, (719) 635-0026; email, bgandy@ppba.org.

Also, for anyone attending West Point, the Naval Academy or Coast Guard Academy, similar ministries are provided.

At West Point contact Dwain Gregory, 83-80 118th St, #2P, Kew Gardens, NY 11415; phone, (719) 963-4477; email, Dwain.Gregory@usma.edu or LeeDGreg@aol.com.

At the Naval Academy contact Kirk Ritchey, 201 Hanover Street, Annapolis, MD 21401; phone. 443-994-1938; email, ritchey@usna.edu.

At the Coast Guard Academy contact: Randy Barnes, 99 Maple Ave, Uncasville, CT 06382; phone, 860-848-6628; email, nlcministry@sbcglobal.net.

Thank you for your assistance.

Mary Kathryn

Colorado Springs, Colo.

4/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

Historical Society will miss founding member : Friday, April 29, 2005

April 29 2005 by

Historical Society will miss founding member : Friday, April 29, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005

Historical Society will miss founding member

On April 20, 2005, the North Carolina Baptist Historical Society lost one of its founding fathers. Gene Hagar of Statesville served North Carolina Baptists as director of missions (DOM) in several associations, but his love for and involvement in sharing the history of N.C. Baptists with N.C. Baptists is an accomplishment most appreciated by our society. Gene, along with fellow DOMs Lewis Ludlam and Elizabeth Campbell, were the driving forces in the formation of the N.C. Baptist Historical Society. He served as secretary and treasurer for many years and was a member of the Executive Committee since the Society's formation.

We extend our sympathies to Gene's wife, Lou, and his family while giving thanks to God for work well done.

Ron Boswell, president, N.C. Baptist Historical Society

Reidsville, N.C.

4/29/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

Confessions of faith: 'simple statements to unify' : Wednesday, April 27, 2005

April 27 2005 by

Confessions of faith: 'simple statements to unify' : Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Confessions of faith: 'simple statements to unify'

Thank you for the recent article on Baptist confessions of faith. They have played important roles in Baptist history to draw folks of like mind and faith nearer and also to show others what their beliefs are. My wife and I served over two decades in Europe during the Soviet era and worked with Baptists in every European country, first while teaching at the Baptist seminary in Ruschlikon, Switzerland, and then as director for Europe for the Foreign Mission Board. During those communist years, Baptists were either not known or castigated as being some dangerous religious sect far from other Christian traditions. One of my joys was to put together a book in English entitled Baptists in Europe: History and Confessions of Faith, which set each Baptist Union statement in its unique cultural and political context. The different emphases in each country shows how God's people expressed themselves in light of, and in spite of, the political setting in their homeland. The book was an apologetic often used with authorities then and it is used today in some seminary classrooms in the former East bloc lands.

As some of us opened up the work in Albania after the collapse of the self-proclaimed, "Only Atheist Country in the World," I presented a copy to the vice president of parliament and he became tearful while saying, "Oh, I remember the Baptists. They got Bibles in to us many years ago."

European Baptists have been drawn together by their common faith, expressed uniquely in each culture, and have been careful not to judge each other on the basis of local practices. Their confessions have never been creeds to separate, but simple statements to unify in God's love.

G. Keith Parker

Brevard, N.C.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - To obtain a copy of Parker's book, send an e-mail to gkparker@infoave.net.)
4/27/2005 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

Lottery is too big a gamble : Friday, April 22, 2005

April 22 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

Lottery is too big a gamble : Friday, April 22, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005

Lottery is too big a gamble

By Tony W. Cartledge
BR Editor

Proponents of a North Carolina state lottery have finally succeeded in getting a lottery bill to squeak through the House of Representatives. "Squeak through" may not be the correct expression. "Ram through" would be better. Speaker Jim Black ignored loud objections in calling for a required second vote immediately after the first. House rules stipulate that, when there are objections, the second vote must be carried over until the next day unless a two-thirds majority calls for an immediate vote.

Perhaps there should be no surprise that an unethical measure would be advanced by unethical means.

There are so many things wrong with a lottery that it's hard to know where to start.

For example, it's worth noting that gambling is illegal in North Carolina. Legislation will have to include a clause specifically exempting the state-operated lottery from other laws that define gambling as criminal activity. What kind of message does it send when the state gives itself permission to break the law?

Lottery proponents argue that all the states surrounding North Carolina have a lottery. Indeed, 45 states and the District of Columbia are in the gambling business. And, it is true that North Carolina could be immorally collecting millions of dollars currently being immorally scooped up by Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. One can't help but ask, "If all those states legalized and taxed prostitution, should North Carolina enact a similar law so our state wouldn't miss out on those appealing wages of sin?"

Another reason to reject a lottery is that the entire premise is based on a lie. The lie is not only in the scam of a gambling scheme that pays out only 50 percent of all receipts, but in claiming that the lottery will benefit education.

The March 24 issue of the Legislative Information Network (LIN) cites a differing conclusion reported in the Winter 1997 issue of State and Local Government Review (published at the University of Georgia). Basing its conclusion on careful analysis, the report stated:

"In the years following the initial use of the lottery, the rate of growth in education spending declines. ... states without lotteries actually maintain and increase their education spending more so than states with lotteries ...

  • itizens should recognize that claims that lotteries will improve education funding are likely to be as misleading as their odds of winning those lotteries are meager."

    Across the country, legislatures who promised to spend the state's gambling winnings on education have blithely put money that would have bolstered education into other programs, resulting in no net gain (or a possible loss) for education.

    A related problem is that when some states, such as Florida, approved a lottery, voters started refusing to approve bond issues for schools, assuming that the state's lottery take should cover all education needs.

    Even if the lottery did prove to be a boon for education funding, one has to worry about the lessons being taught to the children. Should we teach children that wealth comes through gambling and luck, rather then through personal responsibility and hard work? Or that gambling is the unavoidable godfather of quality education?

    Perhaps the greatest harm and most immoral aspect of a lottery is that, like any other "get rich quick" scheme, it unequivocally preys on those who can least afford it.

    Statistics show that more than half of Americans nationwide play the lottery at some point, so there must be some people with disposable income who buy lottery tickets just for the recreational aspect of it. A disproportionate number, however, are poor people who spend their grocery money on lottery tickets because they've been conned into believing they might hit the jackpot.

    They have better odds of being hit by lightning.

    According to the LIN, research has shown that there are many more lottery outlets in poor neighborhoods than in higher income areas. Poor people not only spend a greater percentage of their incomes on lottery tickets than do those in higher brackets, but they spend more per person in absolute dollars.

    Those who live in poverty are clearly most vulnerable to the lottery's predatory shell game. Taxation should be based on a person's level of income, not his or her level of gullibility - or desperation.

    While a traditional and central role of the state has been to lend a compassionate and helping hand to the poor, promoting a lottery puts the state in the position of trying to sucker its poorest people into gambling what few dollars they have on the ill-gotten promise of a life-changing payoff.

    Proponents know this, and have tried to make the issue more palatable by crafting a bill that calls for a low-key lottery with little advertising and no participation in the multi-state games that have multi-million dollar jackpots. If the lottery becomes law, however, don't believe for one moment that it will stay that way. The big money will still go out of state where the big (but exceedingly rare) payoffs are, and lawmakers will be "forced" to allow more manipulative advertising and join multi-state jackpot games in order to reap the promised income.

    For North Carolina or any other state, the verdict should be clear: the lottery is a bad bet.

  • 4/22/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

    Thanks for the memories : Friday, April 22, 2005

    April 22 2005 by Tony W. Cartledge

    Thanks for the memories : Friday, April 22, 2005
    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Thanks for the memories

    By Tony W. Cartledge
    BR Editor

    Eugene Hager was not the sort of man who liked to forget things, or to leave important projects undone. After a 35-year career in associational missions, Hager expressed a need for someone to write a history of associational missions work in North Carolina. When no one else took up the task, he agreed to do it himself.

    Hager didn't plan on being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer before the project was completed. In the spring of 2004, he faced surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Knowing he might have only months to live, it would have been easy enough to simply lay the project aside, but Hager persevered.

    Hager set a goal of completing the history up to 1980, with hopes that someone else would carry it on. In December 2004, he had a few copies of A History of the N.C. Associational Missions Conference printed and published on CD. He hoped it would receive wider distribution.

    On April 19, Hager graduated from this world to the next, leaving the history as one element of his legacy.

    It is well worth reading.

    Most Baptists younger than retirement age may assume that associational missionaries (sometimes known as "directors of missions") have always been around. In 1941, however, as the associational missionary movement began, there were none in North Carolina.

    By 1945, there were five. Four of them were women.

    The movement quickly picked up steam, as more and more associations hired workers, sometimes with the assistance of the state convention. In December 1946, about 40 associational missionaries attended a special training conference at Fruitland, and the movement was well on its way. In 1955, the group elected its first officers.

    As a service to our readers and a tribute to Hager, we are pleased to provide a digital version of A History of the N.C. Associational Missions Conference on the Biblical Recorder web site. To read the history, click here .

    In a future issue, we plan to print the entire work as a supplement to the Biblical Recorder.

    As you read, offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for Gene Hager, for his years of service as an associational missionary, and for his commitment to preserving this important missions chapter in N.C. Baptist life.

    4/22/2005 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments

    Baptist World Congress presents freedom themes : Friday, April 22, 2005

    April 22 2005 by Charles W. Deweese

    Baptist World Congress presents freedom themes : Friday, April 22, 2005
    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Baptist World Congress presents freedom themes

    By Charles W. Deweese

    The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) turns 100 years old in 2005. To celebrate, Baptists worldwide will convene in London on July 27-31 for the Centennial Congress. From one tiny congregation in 1609 to tens of millions of Baptists in tens of thousands of churches today, Baptists have made significant contributions to the believers' church and to world civilization.

    When the centennial congress gathers, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will be conspicuously absent as a member body. The SBC, a dynamic component of the BWA and its congresses for 99 years and the leading source of funds for BWA ministries, rejected and defunded the BWA in 2004 because the BWA's historic freedom emphases did not match the SBC's control orientation.

    The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that worldwide liberty thrusts in Baptist history have not functioned as aberrations in Baptist development; rather, they have served as integrating factors around which Baptist self-understanding has flourished. Most Baptists, though not all, have routinely injected liberty themes into their characterizations of Baptist identity and their lists of Baptist convictions, principles, distinctives, ideals and values.

    Elements of freedom saturate such Baptist concepts as soul competency, liberty of conscience, voluntarism, redemption and salvation, believer's baptism, priesthood of all believers, religious freedom, separation of church and state, congregationalism, individual interpretation of Scripture, and freedom of the pulpit and press.

    Many factors account for these freedom emphases. God's freedom-driven creation of all persons in His own image plainly affirms the creative potential of individuals whom He creates. Commitment to the Lordship of Christ demands a spirit of emancipation. Reliance on the life and teachings of Christ and on biblical authority inevitably results in powerful defenses of basic human rights.

    At times, Baptists have failed miserably to live up to their freedom standards. That has not negated the ongoing importance of liberty for Baptist identity.

    Freedom themes are common in addresses to and documents adopted by Baptist World Congress meetings in 1905-1955. This was the formative period for the Baptist World Alliance and its congresses, beginning in London in 1905 and culminating in the Golden Jubilee Congress in London in 1955.

    These addresses and documents show that the historical and theological record is clear: Baptists worldwide prefer freedom, not control. The breadth and value of the following international insights on the role of freedom in Baptist life provides indisputable evidence that freedom is a highly influential motif of the Baptist experience.

    In 1905, John Clifford (England) asserted at length that there should be no barriers between the soul and God. And Augustus H. Strong (USA) advocated absolute liberty of conscience.

    In 1911, J. Moffat Logan (England) opposed creedalism. And J.H. Rushbrooke (England) urged a new commitment to Baptist individualism.

    In 1923, G. Teofilo Vickman (Spain) urged the priesthood of all believers. E.Y. Mullins (USA) hammered home the importance of religious liberty. And Helen Barrett Montgomery (USA) described Jesus as "the great Emancipator of women."

    In 1928, N.J. Nordstrom (Sweden) advocated the non-binding nature of confessions of faith. And E.Y. Mullins (USA) defended the right of private judgment.

    In 1934, James Scott (Scotland) emphasized the equality of all believers. Maurice A. Levy (USA) discussed the voluntary character of faith. And A.W. Beaven (USA) wrote against man-made creeds.

    In 1939, J.N. Tennent (Scotland) asserted the priesthood of all believers in the New Testament. George W. Truett (USA) highlighted soul competency as a Baptist ideal. And Gordon Palmer (USA) described Christ's ministry of liberation.

    In 1947, Mrs. Edgar Bates (Canada) pinpointed the role of freedom in the Baptist world mission. Gunnar Westin (Sweden) talked about freedom of thought. And Edward Hughes Pruden (USA) put forward the necessity of nonconformity in Baptist life.

    In 1950, Arnold T. Ohrn (Norway) discussed the role of Christ as the anchor of freedom. Edwin McNeill Poteat (USA) advocated the basic freedom of the soul. And Culbert G. Rutenber (USA) urged the importance of the individual conscience in the context of a totalitarian state.

    In 1955, Santiago Canclini (Argentina) assessed the risks of liberty and called upon world Baptists to take such risks. Herbert Gezork (USA) opposed the imposition of creeds upon the conscience. Arnold T. Ohrn (Norway) included as one of the most important BWA achievements in 1905-1955 the fact that it "has lifted high the banner of religious liberty." Walter Pope Binns (USA) stated the positive implications of soul competency. And Gunnar Westin (Sweden) presented key reasons why Baptists should fight for religious liberty.

    In addition to reflections by individuals at congress meetings, entire congresses adopted key documents relating to freedom: "A Declaration on Religious Liberty" (1939), "Manifesto on Religious Freedom" (1947), "Mid-Century Call to Religious Freedom" (1950), and "Golden Jubilee Declaration on Religious Liberty" (1955).

    God placed Baptists in history in the early 1600s for at least one reason: to inject new liberty thrusts into the Christian experience and, more broadly, into the human experience. That is Baptists' essential gift to human civilization. And it must remain the defining characteristic of Baptists in the future if they expect to stay true to their origins and biblical foundation.

    The implications of the preceding slices of world Baptist history challenge contemporary Baptists who favor theological conformity, separation from Baptists who refuse to buy into their party line, a gradual fusing of church and state, and a hearty oppression of women in ministry. Christ is the great emancipator. The apostle Paul claimed there is no difference between male and female. Baptists worldwide through the BWA have made freedom the Baptist calling card. Baptists at their best appreciate the right to free faith - as individuals and congregations.

    Freedom is right. Inherent in creation, authorized by Christ, mandated by scripture, central to Baptist principles, freedom rests on solid rock. BWA congresses have taught us that Jesus meant what He said when He launched His ministry in Nazareth in the synagogue on the Sabbath by reading from the book of Isaiah that the Spirit of the Lord had sent Him to proclaim release to the captives and to set free those who were oppressed (Luke 4:18).

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - This is the second in a series of articles addressing contemporary issues from the perspective of Baptist history and heritage. Deweese is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist History and Heritage Society in Brentwood, Tenn.)

    4/22/2005 12:00:00 AM by Charles W. Deweese | with 0 comments

    Graduations affirm founding purposes : Friday, April 22, 2005

    April 22 2005 by Jim Royston

    Graduations affirm founding purposes : Friday, April 22, 2005
    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Graduations affirm founding purposes

    By Jim Royston
    BSC Executive Director-treasurer

    This spring North Carolina Baptists' five colleges and universities will grant 2,051 degrees, including 74 to graduates of the divinity schools at Campbell and Gardner-Webb.

    What better way to celebrate the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's (BSC) 175th anniversary than to recognize these graduates, who affirm one of the primary founding purposes of our convention?

    When seven preachers and seven laymen formed the BSC in Greenville on March 26, 1830, they committed to each other to bring some order to the chaos of Baptists in our state. Associations were in turmoil over whether or not they should be missionary. Leadership was sparse.

    Founders agreed to two primary purposes for the new convention: to promote missions and to educate ministers.

    A university quickly followed and N.C. Baptists over the decades have come to appreciate an educated clergy. That appreciation for learning extended beyond the clergy and soon we wanted our children to receive quality, Christ-centered education no matter what profession they chose.

    Students at our Baptist schools learn in classrooms with Christian professors, in an atmosphere that affirms their faith. I'm not na�ve enough to think every day in a Baptist college is a day in Sunday School.

    We want struggling students to carry their hard questions to our professors and have the professors lead students to find Christ-centered answers to difficult issues. That's why we send our children to our schools, to learn in an environment with a Christian world-view.

    Our founding fathers were wise beyond their own learning when they made education one of the key touchstones of our convention. We grew to incorporate seven colleges and universities, plus Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute for persons called to ministry later in life. Five colleges and universities and Fruitland remain among us.

    This year we'll invest more than $5 million in these schools directly, and they will raise many millions of dollars more among N.C. Baptists who demonstrate their belief in the schools by supporting them financially.

    You elect virtually all the trustees who govern these schools. That gives you ownership, pride and responsibility to elect men and women who understand the importance of their role and the impact they have on the institutions, students, faculty and relationship with the convention.

    These students will lead our churches. They will become our doctors, teachers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, county commissioners, spouses, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. A Christ-centered education will influence how they make decisions. They will deal with matters of faith, stewardship of resources and the plight of humankind with a wisdom attained only in that context and in a manner that will benefit us all.

    I'm grateful for our schools and for our commitment to them as one of our founding purposes.

    4/22/2005 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston | with 0 comments

    A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Forward : Friday, April 22, 2005

    April 22 2005 by Eugene B. Hager

    A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Forward : Friday, April 22, 2005
    Friday, April 22, 2005

    A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Forward

    By Eugene B. Hager
    December 3, 2004

    On several occasions our Conference has expressed the desire to have someone research and write its history. Mention of this can be found in the 1972 Minutes, page 7. And it appears as a motion in the Minutes for 1977, page 6. It was brought up at other times also. Nevertheless, no one completed the task. The nearest anyone came to doing it was Lewis Ludlum in his A Partial History and Interpretation of Associational Missions in North Carolina 1943-1973. This booklet dealt more with interpretation than with history. However, it preserved for us some of the thoughts and observations of those pioneers in associational work. I have quoted from it (see pages 9, 10, and 19) and referred to it at other times.

    For many years I thought that if no one else did it, I would like to write the history after I retired. Two years ago I began researching and writing. Then, I had to put it aside for a while. About the time I resumed work on it this past spring, I was diagnosed with cancer. After recovering from surgery and radiation and chemotherapy, I began again knowing that I might only have a few months that I would be up to researching and writing. My goal was to get through the early years - at least to the seventies. I got down to 1980. Someone else will have to write a volume two or sequel beginning with 1980. There is an abundance of records from 1980 onward. The problem will be winnowing through them.

    I have elected to cite sources "in paragraph" rather than in footnotes. It has always been annoying to me, when reading, to hold my place while trying to read the fine print of a footnote at the bottom of the page - or even worse - at the end of the chapter.

    I regret very much not having the time to write brief biographical sketches of each associational missionary who has served in North Carolina. I have collected some clippings and information for that project. It will require a great deal of patience and time. Perhaps someone will take it as his or her chance to contribute to history. Another area that needs much fuller treatment than I have given in this history is the ministry to the military in North Carolina. Those who have not lived in an association with a large military installation cannot realize all that is involved and the great opportunity that it provides. Reading history is not the same as living it. A. Whitney Brown (in The Big Picture) said: "The past actually happened, but history is only what someone wrote down." Having joined the Conference in 1959, I have written as an eyewitness since that year. The most difficult part of my research was the period from 1942-1959. This is not just because it was "before my day," but also because records from that early period are scarce and fragmentary. In the 1970's I was able to talk with and ask questions of some of those who were serving in that earlier period - such as Lewis Ludlum, Elizabeth Campbell, and others. That has helped a lot. Someone has said that jumping to conclusions is not nearly as much exercise as digging for facts. How true, how true! Completing the work I have done under the constraint of time and having to stop at 1980, probably means that I should give it a title similar to the one Lewis Ludlum gave his - "A Partial and Incomplete History...." Nevertheless, I hope it will be helpful, enlightening, and inspirational to current and future associational missionaries who serve in North Carolina. My prayers and best wishes are extended to all of you.

    4/22/2005 12:00:00 AM by Eugene B. Hager | with 0 comments

    A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 1: How did it all start? : Friday, April 22, 2005

    April 22 2005 by Eugene B. Hager

    A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 1: How did it all start? : Friday, April 22, 2005
    Friday, April 22, 2005

    A History of the NC Associational Missionaries Conference - Chapter 1: How did it all start?

    By Eugene B. Hager

    Few things have made a greater contribution to the growth and development of Associational Missions in this state than the North Carolina Associational Missionaries Conference. This author can testify to that from personal experience. [Note: It later became "The North Carolina Superintendents of Missions Conference," and still later "The North Carolina Directors of Missions Conference." This author will use the original title as the preferred designation except in quotations and perhaps a few other instances requiring one of the other titles.]

    But when was this conference born? It was born in 1955 when the first officers were nominated and elected. The first meeting planned and led by those newly elected officers was held July 30 - August 3, 1956 at Caswell Assembly. This new conference had actually evolved from something else. That "something else" was an annual planning/training conference sponsored by Baptist State Convention leaders from 1946-1955. This planning/training conference also was extremely helpful to the associational missionaries in those early pioneer years.

    First, however, we need to consider some background information in order to better understand what was happening. The Associational Missionaries Conference came out of the rise of the modern associational missionaries movement that began in North Carolina about 1942. A very few associations had a worker earlier than 1942. They seem to have been "field workers" for the Sunday School Board rather than associational missionaries in the modern sense of the term. Such a worker is reported in A History of the Pilot Mountain Association by Mack Goss, page 125. There had been persons designated as "associational missionaries" in the 19th century. Usually, these were pastors who were enlisted by an association to lead in planting new churches in towns and other areas within the association that were without a Baptist church. They did not leave their pastorates, but simply took a little time off now and then to lead in planting a new church. For example: In 1874 in the South Yadkin Association, Elder W. R. Gwaltney (Pastor of Eatons, Jerusalem, and Mocksville Baptist Churches) "...made a special visit to Statesville, preached two sermons, found and conversed with 16 Baptists there, and looked after a church lot." (South Yadkin 1874 Minutes, p. 5.)

    The first modern associational missionaries in North Carolina appeared about 1942. The General Board Report to the State Convention in 1945 stated: "About four years ago [i. e. 1941] no association in the State had a missionary. Now there are about 25, and at the present time some half dozen other associations are making plans to secure missionaries if they can be found." (1945 Convention Annual, p. 72.) The first list of associational missionaries appeared in the 1942 Convention Annual (p. 234):

    Miss S. Madge Lewis, Haywood Association, Waynesville

    Mrs. Fannie Gibson, Macon and West Liberty Associations, Franklin

    Miss Vivian Grant, Wilmington Association, Wilmington

    Miss Ruth Keller, Caldwell Association, Granite Falls

    Rev. G. [T.] S. Lawrence, Pilot Mountain Association, Winston-Salem

    This movement grew with strong encouragement from M. A. Huggins (General Secretary and Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention) and the General Board. The Convention Annual for 1942 (p. 80) reported that $1500 had been expended to aid associations in securing workers and that an additional $8,500 was needed. The 1943 Annual (pp. 72-73) noted:

    A movement in which the Board has been greatly interested has been that of securing well-trained young men and young women as associational missionaries. We point out that Tom S. Lawrence has been secured by the Pilot Mountain Association for full time work. Only recently G. Woodrow Bullard has gone to the Roanoke Association in a similar capacity. For these two workers the Board has made no appropriation save for some traveling expense for one of them, but in several other associations the Board has been happy to meet about half of the expenses involved in securing well-trained young women. At the present time one may find Ruth Keller in the Caldwell, Willa B. Marks in the Surry, Laura Mae Hilliard in the Yancey and French Broad, Madge S. Lewis in the Haywood, and Mrs. Fannie Gibson in the Macon and West Liberty. The Carolina and Ashe associations have voted to employ missionaries as soon as they can be found. The same may be said also about the Gaston County, the Buncombe, the Wilmington and the South Fork.

    The General Board report in the 1944 Annual (pp. 80-81) was even stronger:

    Perhaps the most outstanding development in our work has been the employment of a great number of associational missionaries. There are at present about twenty men and women giving full time to this work, and many other associations are calling for them. It has been the policy of the Board to provide about one-half of the salary of many of these mission- aries. In some instances the full salary is being taken care of by the associations themselves, and in one instance the General Board is pay- ing only the traveling expense. We know of no case in which the leaders of an Association attempted to raise funds for this purpose and failed. The main problem now is not one of raising the money, but rather one of securing well-qualified workers. Some of the workers who have been secured are without much experience, but efforts have been made through conferences of various kinds to acquaint them with the opportunities and problems involved in the work. The job needs very much to be done. There are nearly half a million unreached possibilities for our Sunday schools; there are perhaps a quarter of a million prospects for the Training Unions; and on the whole one may say that fully one-third of the members of our churches are almost wholly unenlisted in the total work of the church. These conditions state the task of the associational missionary, working always to aid the pastor in every way possible. Perhaps no more significant movement is taking place among us now than the increased attention given to associational mission work.

    Noteworthy in the above quotation are the expectations of pastors, churches, and the State Convention concerning the duties of the associational missionaries.

    That same report goes on to mention another significant phase of work getting under way in the associations:

    In this connection mention should be made of the cooperation of the Home Mission Board in the City Mission work. At the present time the General Board is cooperating with the Home Mission Board in carrying on work in Durham and the Mount Zion Associ- ation [Note: the Yates Association had not yet been formed from the Mount Zion Association.] under the leadership of F. D. Hemphill, and in Greensboro and the Piedmont Association under the leadership of T. L. Sasser. Plans have just been completed for the employment of H. Fletcher Lambert in the Raleigh Association. Usually these workers wore two hats: City Missionary and Associational Missionary.

    The General Board Report for the next year (1945 Annual, p. 72) brings to light the frugal salary level in those days. It also has interesting observations on how the associational missionaries help "the country churches":

    Another phase of our program which is proving most gratifying is that of helping associations to secure associational missionaries.... As a rule the Board is undertaking to provide an amount not to exceed $750, un- less the circumstances be most unusual; and this generally will provide about half of the salary. It has been felt that this was the wiser course to pursue, providing thus that the missionary shall be an employee of the association primarily, rather than of the Convention. These missionaries cooperate to the fullest extent with all of the workers of the General Board. We should point out in this connection that most of our town churches are now employing pastors' assistants, or educational directors. The country churches are not able to support a worker to assist the pastor. The associational missionary, therefore, is trying, in a sense, to do for the country church, insofar as it can be done, what the pastor's assistant does for the town church. Of course in many of the associations the great number of rural churches, and their location, make it impossible for the missionary to give as much time to any one church as needed. They can, however, spend a week now and then in a church and help in providing leadership meetings for the churches. This whole movement of the associational missionary is very sig- nificant, and the Board is happy to report that great progress is being made. Oh, for the "good ole days"!

    In 1946 Rev. G. W. Bullard was elected to serve on the State Convention Staff as Superintendent of Associational Missions. He was responsible to the General Secretary, Dr. M. A. Huggins. He had served as an associational missionary in the Roanoke Association for three years. Then, he joined the Convention's Sunday School staff (for three years) with special responsibilities as "associational man" under the direction of L. L. Morgan. Huggins and Bullard planned and arranged the first statewide planning/training conference for associational missionaries. It was held at Fruitland, December 13-15, 1946. This was a very important step toward the eventual organization of the Associational Missionaries Conference with its own elected officers and agenda.

    Here is the report on that meeting appearing in the January 1, 1947 issue of the Biblical Recorder under "Editorial Brevities":

    There were approximately forty associational missionaries in attendance on this special training conference. The program was planned and di- rected by Secretary Huggins and Woodrow Bullard, the director of associational missions. [Note: The Convention Annual uses the title "Superintendent" for Mr. Bullard, who also uses it in his article in January 1950 that we shall look at later.]

    One could hardly imagine a more significant meeting for the welfare and progress of our churches. Practically all phases of our work both at home and abroad were studied and discussed. These associational missionaries are giving attention to the development of the local churches and the encour- agement of our people in the support of all our causes both at home and abroad. At this conference these missionaries were being taught that they might be able in turn to teach others better. These convention leaders justified the use of funds for this conference (and those held in succeeding years) by pointing to the vital ministries these missionaries could render to the small, rural, and part-time churches across the state. Note carefully these words from the General Board Report in the Convention 1947 Annual (p. 98):

    ...we believe the plan now being followed bids fair to help in the development of our churches more than any plan that has before been tried. The Associational Missionary or Field Worker ap- proaches during the year in some vital and significant way nearly all our churches. It is in the main a rural church program, except in name. Most churches now with as many as four hundred mem- bers find it possible to employ an Educational Director to assist the pastor in the vital work of training. Obviously the smaller churches, halftime and quarter time, cannot do this. The Associational Missionary or Field Worker partially answers the need for providing some help for these churches. The Board does not believe it wise to employ people and send them into the associations, paying their full support. Rather it is believed to be a wiser policy for the Board to share in the support, leaving it to the Association itself to employ the worker and pay the remainder of the support. In this way the associ- ations can feel that the workers belong to them. At the moment we are happy to report that there appears to be the finest sort of cooperation. And let it be said once more that the Conven- tion is not forgetting the smaller churches.

    The reiteration of the desire to allow the missionaries to belong to the associations rather than to the Convention is noteworthy. That was not the case in some other state conven- tions at the time. The conviction held by many leaders in those days that a major contri- bution of associational missionaries would be in strengthening rural churches across the state is echoed in the following words of Lee Pridgen in the January 7, 1948 Biblical Recorder, p. 13. At the time, Mr. Pridgen was associational missionary in the Tar River Association:

    Mr. Huggins has led our State out front in this field.... Here, we be- lieve, is the real solution to our rural church problems. If there be those who criticize the effort or the trial and say it does not work, let those be reminded that in practically every case which has come up for criticism, the trouble has not been with The Idea or the plan, but rather with local conditions or the unwise choice of worker. Never shall a rural State worker with headquarters in Raleigh or anywhere else be able to reach the outermost churches. He can reach them only with letter, surveys, statistics, etc., and these are not needed out there. A person is needed out there to touch these churches and lead them, working with the local pastors and loving them in a great co-operative Kingdom effort and program. Yes the Idea is good, Mr. Huggins, and what we need is not more administrative heads over these workers to complicate their work, but we need from the mountains to the coast our best trained workers ably sup- ported and backed in these rural associations. The possi- bilities are great. May we enter!

    For a clearer idea of the "hands-on" activities of these missionaries in the mid to late 1940's consider this excerpt from G. W. Bullard's report in the 1947 Convention Annual, pages 109-110:

    An associational mission program includes, (1) general pro- motion work; (2) enlisting and assisting the local churches; and (3) reaching out to the people of unreached areas. With all this involved it is impossible to give a complete summary of the activities of the 42 missionaries. The following facts, compiled from their reports for the first nine months of 1947, will, however, reveal something of the result of their efforts. They assisted with the promotion of 50 simultaneous or central campaigns. Eight hundred and eighty-two churches participated with an average attendance of more then 28,000 people. These campaigns included, Schools of Missions, Sunday School and Training Union Campaigns; Stewardship Emphasis, Evangelistic meetings, Schools for Deacons, etc. The reports list 939 professions of faith and 676 new church members. Eighteen new churches have been organized under the supervision of the mission- aries, and 18 new mission Sunday schools or branch stations started. There are now 30 of these mission stations in operation. Conferences, both individual and group, occupy much of the time of these workers. During the period mentioned above, they reported 4,718 in- dividual and 1,554 group or committee conferences. These workers have responded to calls for assistance with every phase of activity in the individual church....

    A variety of titles were used for associational workers in North Carolina during the 1940's and 1950's. Here is a list of the more commonly used titles along with a few examples of associations that had them:

    Associational Missionary (the most common one)

    Associational Worker (Caldwell, 1947; Mecklenburg, 1949)

    Field Worker (Blue Ridge & Green River, 1946; French Broad, 1947; New South River, 1951; Union, 1951) Promotional Secretary (Catawba River, 1966; Mecklenburg, 1950) Executive Secretary (Raleigh, 1950)

    In December 1959, at the Associational Missionaries' Workshop in Salisbury, Dr. Douglas M. Branch "...mentioned the matter of having a uniform term for the title of the missionaries. It was reported that a poll of 700 associations revealed that 80% referred to the worker as 'Associational Missionary.'" [Minutes of the Workshop, p. 10.] At the Gulfshore Conference in 1963, Convention leaders noted their difficulty in knowing what title to use in literature and correspondence so that there would be no confusion as to whom they were referring. They requested that those in attendance at Gulfshore agree on a title that could be used convention-wide. There would be no pressure on associations to officially adopt it for their worker, but everyone would know who was meant by the title when used in convention literature. There was quite a bit of debate. Since state convention department leaders were now using the title "Superintendent" (ex.: "State Sunday School Superintendent") some suggested that we agree on "Superintendent of Missions." This title was finally agreed upon, but it was far from unanimous. A large number wanted to stay with the most commonly used title: "Associational Missionary." Over the next few years many associations (but by no means all) officially adopted the title "Superintendent of Missions" for their workers. In the 1970's the title was changed to "Director of Missions." Again, many (but not all) associations voluntarily adopted the new title for their workers. In recent years many have expressed a desire to return to the title: "Associational Missionary."

    Another development during the mid-to-late 1940's was the publication of associational newsletters. More and more associational missionaries began doing so. The Biblical Recorder (Nov. 21, 1945, p. 8) mentions The Caldwell Caller edited by Elizabeth Campbell. The Recorder (Jan. 8, 1947, p. 8) refers to The Carolina Baptist edited by E. V. Plemmons, Hendersonville.

    Lewis Ludlum served as an associational missionary during most of these pioneering years. He considered the main issue confronting associations and their missionaries in those days to be their search for identity. He prepared a booklet (30 pages) entitled: A Brief Partial History and Interpretation of Associational Missions in North Carolina 1943-1973. He was more interested in interpretation than the bare historical framework (dates, first officers of the Associational Missionaries Conference, etc.). We are indebted to him for preserving the thoughts and observations of himself and his peers. This writer has no doubt that these perceptions were discussed many times by Ludlum, Hubert Mumford (Yates Association), Ed Echerd (Mecklenburg Association), and others. Since his booklet is not generally available (some associations may still have copies in their files for 1973 or 1974), the following quotations are appropriate here: From page 1:

    Prior to 1851, when our North Carolina Baptist Convention was formed, Associational Missions had no identity problem. But once the two organizations began to function together, with similar and overlapping objectives, to some extent the association had to struggle to maintain its historical identity as a missionary agency. Until about 1920, however, many associations continued to do con- siderable missionary work within their own borders.

    About this time there began a strong trend for state govern- ment to take over many functions of county government. Baptists followed the trend and many associational mission functions be- came a part of a growing State Convention program. Convention agencies, State and Southern, had learned by this time that associ- ations could be an effective promotional agency for their programs. And thus, by the late 1930's, except for cooperative work in Christian education and training in the churches, associations [had] become almost exclusively promotional organizations for other Baptist agencies.

    The new associational missionary movement in the 1940's grew out of a desire to enhance the promotional functions of the associations. [Author's note: consider some of the titles used during this period - "Promotional Secretary," "Field Worker."]

    In this paper I shall undertake to portray this concept of associational work as being worthy, but quite limited; and, hopefully, characterize the struggle that has gone on (1943-1973) as associations have sought to recover their true missionary identity. From page 3:

    To most Baptists it simply did not make sense to employ someone to work in and with churches of the same race, color, and geographical location as themselves. The concept had been quite valid to our forefathers but historical developments in the 30 or 40 years prior to this period had caused us to quite largely lose the concept of local missions sponsored by a Baptist association....

    From page 5:

    Over a period of years a concept of missions had evolved which required that the senders and the ones to whom the missionary is sent be identified as two separate groups, and geographically separated. But much of the Associational activity was for mutual stimulation and inspiration, de- veloping leadership skills, Christian fellowship, etc. All of which laid foundations for stronger churches but was not missionary according to current concepts. Basically, there must have been a feeling that church people should not spend such a large percent of their energies on themselves, if they were going to call it missions.

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