John Grisham Joins Celebration

December 26, 2007

The Associated Baptist Press has reported that famous author and Baptist layman John Grisham will be a speaker at next month's Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. Here are some highlights from the article:

Mega-author John Grisham, whose recent novels have revealed his deeply rooted Christian faith, will deliver a rare public speech at the New Baptist Covenant meeting in late January.

... The 53-year-old Grisham, a lifelong Baptist, has taught Sunday school to young couples and 4-year-olds and regularly goes with fellow church members on mission-service trips.

In announcing the addition of Grisham to the Covenant lineup Dec. 20, program co-chair Jimmy Allen described the author as "a Baptist churchman, not only in regular worship but also in active service. The subthemes of his fiction reveal his understanding of the plight of the poor, his commitment to seek justice in our criminal system, his concerns for environment, and his descriptions of the challenge to reach across the racial lines that divide us."

Allen said the Baptist layman will speak Jan. 31, during the second evening session of the pan-Baptist meeting, on the topic of "Respecting Diversity."

Grisham, a self-described "moderate Baptist" whose 21 books have sold more than 100 million copies, has said he probably wouldn't even be a novelist if weren't for a concern for social justice. As a young attorney in Mississippi, he said, he heard the testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim. He determined to write about the tragic consequences, leading to his first novel, A Time to Kill.

Since 1993, Grisham has made almost yearly mission trips with his church to Brazil. "We went down there for the purpose of constructing a church in this little town sort of in the outback," he told USA Today. "And it was such a rewarding experience that I've done it several times since."

Those experiences surface in his novel The Testament, in which the lead character, an attorney, goes to Brazil in search of a missionary who has inherited the bulk of a billionaire's fortune.

... Although intensively private about his charity work, Grisham and his wife, Renee, have set up a charitable foundation that supports mostly Christian efforts, raised $8.8 million in grants for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and built six Little League baseball fields in his hometown of Oxford, Miss.

... Grisham, the latest addition, fills a keynote slot vacated by commentator Bill Moyers, who withdrew because of a schedule conflict.
The Celebration promises to be a historic, exciting, and worthwhile gathering for worship, ministry, fellowship, and dialogue. I encourage all Baptists to be a part of this effort. In another article, the Associated Baptist Press reported the results of a survey of Baptist journalists who ranked the top Baptist stories of the year. The story chosen as the top one was that of the announcement of the Celebration.

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