More on Celebration

February 15, 2008

The Columbia Missourian had an article today about the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. The piece, entitled "Baptists find unity at convention despite divisions," featured comments from First Baptist Church pastor John Baker, Jeanie McGowan of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, and myself. Here are some highlights:

Baptists in Columbia and around the state are hoping to bridge the divide with a movement toward unity.

... Brian Kaylor, one of the event planners, said: "Baptists have been very divided. We've forgotten our purpose to love the world, and we need to put aside our differences."

... After years of division, Baker particularly enjoyed the "rich and warm environment" of the celebration. He said he is just trying to digest what happened at the meeting. The "new level of trust and harmony" found at the covenant meeting will likely be required if Missouri's Baptist groups are ever to join together on projects, he said.

Some Missouri Baptists hope to replicate the New Baptist Covenant here, and that cooperation will be a part of the future. A bridge between Baptists "will always be something to work toward despite theological interpretation," said Jeanie McGowan, the leadership development team leader of the Baptist General Convention and a Jefferson City resident. "The goal is to find common ground."

As for now, Baptists do have one thing in common: belief in Jesus Christ.

"Biblical Jesus prayed his disciples and followers would unite and be one," Kaylor said.

At the "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant," where discussions centered on unity in Christ, peacemaking, interfaith relations, poverty and health care issues, attendees said they felt optimistic about the future. "It was absolutely wonderful," McGowan said.

Though former President Carter confirmed that the leaders of the Baptist celebration will meet again in March, the next step in unifying and promoting Baptist values remains with those who attended the meeting.

"There will be more local replications next," Kaylor said. "I hope that in the future, others will be less reluctant to be involved."
I hope the article will help improve the image of Baptists in Missouri, and I hope that we will see similar efforts at unity and reconciliation in our state.


Here are some other recent pieces about the Celebration:

David Emmanuel Goatley, president of the North American Baptist Fellowship and executive secretary treasurer of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, had a great column at Ethics Daily in which he offered his thoughts about the Celebration.

Jim Evans had a good column at Ethics Daily that reflected on "Al Gore the Prophet."

And Marv Knox of the Baptist Standard had a good piece talking about the Celebration and what is next.

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