N.C. Baptists honored for century of action
May 9 2003 by Laura T. Rich , Graphics Editor

N.C. Baptists honored for century of action | Friday, May 9, 2003

Friday, May 9, 2003

N.C. Baptists honored for century of action

By Laura T. Rich Graphics Editor

Biblical Recorder editor emeritus Marse Grant was one of several N.C. Baptists honored for making a difference in state history. Grant shared recognition with former Recorder editor and U.S. Senator Josiah Bailey, evangelist Billy Graham, Campbell University president Norman Wiggins, Governor Max Gardner and former Wake Forest College (now university) president William Poteat.

The men were included in a volume featuring more than 160 persons who made an impact on the state during the last century.

The publication, titled The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, contains profiles on pioneers in the areas of agriculture, engineering and architecture, art and literature, business, education, law, media, religion, public service, popular culture, social movements and sports.

Marse Grant

"If North Carolina awarded battle stars and Purple Hearts for combat in the political and religious arenas, Marse Grant ... would be one of the state's most decorated," wrote former Fayetteville Observer editor Charles Clay.

Grant served as editor of the Recorder from January 1960 to September 1982.

During the tumultuous decades of his editorship, the paper confronted both religious and social issues through diligent reporting and unflinching editorial work. Writing in early 1960, Grant took an early stand for desegregation. "God loves all people," he editorialized. "To think that He prefers one over the other because of the color of skin is inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible."

Grant also took issue with liquor-by-the-drink legislation that was introduced in the state legislature in the 1970s and worked to strengthen the state's drunken driving laws.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Grant was one of the earliest critics of the conservative shift in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Josiah Bailey

Josiah Bailey succeeded his father as Recorder editor in 1895, when he was only 22 years old. He was an outspoken advocate of expanding the public school system and was also active in the temperance movement at the turn of the century.

In 1930, Bailey was elected to the U.S. Senate and served until his death in 1946. Jonathan Phillips wrote in his profile that in the Senate, Bailey was "committed to the supremacy of the individual over the state and local government over national government."

Friends and colleagues often called the deeply religious senator "Holy Joe."

Billy Graham

Evangelist Billy Graham is perhaps the most widely recognized N.C. Baptist. His crusades have placed him before untold numbers of listeners in more than 60 years of ministry.

Not immune to criticism, his profile tells that Graham was challenged over his early nationalism, support for the war in Vietnam and his association with Richard Nixon. The Watergate scandal shocked Graham, Frye Gaillard wrote, and he "emerged in the 1980s as a more reflective person."

But Graham's calling was the same. "He stood before the crowds in the great arenas of the world," Gaillard wrote, "and he called people forward, speaking in a voice that was gentle and sure: 'You come now.... It's important that you come...."

Norman A. Wiggins

Serving more than 30 years as Campbell University's third president, Norman A. Wiggins has molded the small junior college into a fully accredited university with respected undergraduate and renowned graduate programs in law, pharmacy, education, business and divinity.

Former News & Observer editorial writer J. Barlow Herget wrote in his profile of Wiggins, "He was hailed by admirers and critics as one of the state's true leaders of his time in higher education, especially among religious colleges and universities."

A dedicated Baptist, Wiggins told students when he became president in 1967 "To the extent permitted by our resources, we are choosing as our goal distinctive Christian Education of an optimum quality for all students."

William L. Poteat

William L. Poteat first strolled onto the campus of Wake Forest College in 1872 at the age of 15. For more than half a century, it was his home. Poteat served Wake Forest first as professor and eventually led the college as president.

Randal Hall wrote that Poteat served his state as "a leading liberal member of the Baptist State Convention, as a dedicated progressive social reformer and as a prominent voice opposing anti-evolution legislation during the 1920s."

Poteat was active in many reform groups in the early 20th century including the Anti-Saloon League, the SBC's Commission on Social Service and the Baptist State Convention's North Carolina Peace Society. "Beneath Poteat's seemingly varied reform objectives," wrote Hall, "ran a consistent current of desire to maintain a stable, moral society led by educated, benevolent Christians."

"Poteat's legacy is justifiably one of struggling for freedom of thought," Hall wrote. "Much of his importance rested in his indefatigable zeal to share his belief in the compatibility of science and religion."

O. Max Gardner

O. Max Gardner is familiar to Baptists as benefactor and namesake of Gardner-Webb University. Gardner served North Carolina in a variety of public offices and private industries, according to his profile by archivist Kim Anderson.

Elected to the state senate in 1910, Gardner's influence moved him into the position of lieutenant governor and, in 1928, governor.

Gardner's goals for North Carolina changed as the Great Depression settled into the state. Anderson writes that Gardner "reshaped state government to fit a reduced budget." His "Live-at-Home" program taught families to "grow it, can it, eat it, sew it, make it, wear it at home," and guided many North Carolinians through the depression's early years.

After his term as governor, Gardner moved to Washington, D.C. where his influence, as a close friend of President Roosevelt, continued.

Through it all, Gardner was a "man of immense faith" Anderson wrote. "He prayed aloud in the morning, as he told Miss Fay not long after their marriage, 'when he and the world had been renewed.'"

Other notable N.C. Baptists featured in the book for achievement in other areas include former UNC-Chapel Hill basketball coach Dean Smith, congressman Robert Doughton, Wake Forest basketball coach and pastor Horace "Bones" McKinney, musician and broadcaster Arthur Smith, long-time UNC president William Friday, UNC president and businessman Dick Spangler, founders of Appalachian State University Blanford and Dauphin Daugherty, UNC-Pembroke president English Jones, the furniture industry's Broyhill family, WRAL founder A.J. Fletcher, Wake Forest trustee and educational reformer Irving Carlyle, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, former pastor of Myer's Park Baptist Church in Charlotte Carlyle Marney, former Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham, Piedmont Airlines founder Thomas Davis and physician and first director of the state Board of Health Watson Rankin.

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5/9/2003 12:00:00 AM by Laura T. Rich , Graphics Editor | with 0 comments
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