Baptist Diversity: The 2002 Annual Meeting of the Baptist History and Heritage Society Hit Close to Home This Year, Literally. (Editorial)

By Hawkins, Merrill M., Jr. | Baptist History and Heritage, Summer-Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Baptist Diversity: The 2002 Annual Meeting of the Baptist History and Heritage Society Hit Close to Home This Year, Literally. (Editorial)


Hawkins, Merrill M., Jr., Baptist History and Heritage


The Center for Baptist Studies at Carson-Newman College, along with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, hosted the three-day conference at First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, just on the edge of the campus.

The well-attended meeting focused on Baptist diversity, an issue of particular relevance in this era of Baptist life. While Baptists, especially in the American South, are often perceived as a seamless garment, a closer look reveals a patchwork quilt sewn from many different pieces, some of them quite different.

Individual papers and panel discussions at this year's meeting explored the challenges and opportunities presented by these differences. Bill J. Leonard, dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest University, presented a paper on Appalachian Baptist diversity. With the meeting's setting in southeastern Appalachia, Leonard's presentation was particularly relevant. His paper reminds us that Southern Baptists join several other varieties of (s)outhern Baptists in Appalachia.

The worship wars of many denominations have not bypassed Baptists. All denominations are experimenting with worship styles, with contemporary, traditional, and liturgical styles vying with several approaches. Factor in the impact of race and gender and one finds a vital and dynamic discussion. …

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