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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jimmy Carter Meets With Southern Baptist Bloggers

From Associated Baptist Press

ATLANTA (ABP) -- Former President Jimmy Carter met with several well-known Southern Baptist bloggers May 17 in Atlanta to solicit support for an unprecedented gathering of Baptists in North America.

Carter, perhaps the world's most prominent Baptist layman, invited the bloggers and other Southern Baptist leaders to become part of the planning for the "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant," scheduled for next January in the Georgia capital.

The invitation comes even though some SBC denominational leaders have rejected official participation in the event.

"I think it was extremely constructive," said Dan Malone, an attorney from El Paso, Texas, who helped facilitate the meeting. He added that there was "a good spirit among everyone and a recognition that you don't have to agree on every single theological issue or doctrinal issue that's out there to agree to cooperate in evangelism and missions with other Baptists, with like-minded Baptists."....

The Atlanta meeting included Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson, Texas pastor Benjamin Cole, Georgia pastor Marty Duren, and Alabama pastor C.B. Scott. Organizers said other non-blogger Southern Baptist leaders had been invited but were unable to attend.

The leaders of the New Baptist Covenant effort have said they hope to draw as many as 10,000 Baptists from various denominations to Atlanta. They plan to discuss ways of working on a "compassion agenda" to address social justice and human rights rather than squabbling over doctrinal or political differences.

When Carter and former President Bill Clinton announced the effort in January, some Southern Baptist leaders denounced it as an attempt to advance Democratic hopes among Baptist voters in the 2008 elections.

But some bloggers -- including Cole and Burleson -- who are popular among younger SBC leaders have criticized the dismissal....

According to Cole, Carter's overtures were well-received.

"…Southern Baptists will do ourselves and the world a great disservice if we continue down a path of provincialism and evangelical megalomania whereby we dismiss providential moments for collaborative efforts…," he said in an e-mail shortly after the meeting ended. "I am thankful for the way that President Carter understands and appreciates the tightrope that younger conservative Southern Baptists must walk in these difficult days of self-definition, and I look forward to participating in a new forum to explore our shared commitments with Baptists across the racial, political, and ecclesial divides in North America." Read full story here.

Also, according to the Associated Baptist Press, 3 prominent Republicans have accepted invitations to participate in the Celebration of the New Baptist Covenant.

Republican Senators Lindsay Graham (S.C.) and Charles Grassley (Iowa) join Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee as recently named participants for the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 New Baptist Covenant Celebration in Atlanta, billed as the broadest Baptist meeting in America since Baptists divided over slavery before the Civil War. Organizers hope to attract 20,000 people to the gathering.

Carter already has enlisted former President Bill Clinton and Al Gore, the former vice president who came within 537 Florida votes of succeeding Clinton. They all are Democrats, as is ‘60s-era presidential adviser Bill Moyers, now a journalist and author....

In additiona to the slate of Democrat and Republican politicians, 3 pastors have been announced as speakers. My pastor, Julie Pennington-Russell of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas is on that list. Also included are two African American pastors - Charles Adams, pastor of Hartford Baptist Church in Detroit and past president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and William Shaw, pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia and president of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc., largest of the four main black Baptist denominations.

Renowned Texas Baptist, Joel Gregory - preaching professor at Baylor's Truett Seminary, is also scheduled to speak. Add to that list Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights leader and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, and Tony Campolo.

Great list thus far.

Someone needs to give civil rights legend John Lewis a call. How many ordained Baptist ministers are roaming the halls of Congress these days?

Atlanta is his city after all.

These new developments are indeed interesting. I'm waiting to hear Southern Baptists respond to this turn of events. Kudos to Jimmy Carter for keeping his promise and finding three Republican Baptists to speak. And Kudos to Wade Burleson and Ben Cole for being willing to cooperate with other Baptists.

Note: The man on the far-right of the picture is Mercer University President Bill Underwood. Underwood has been an instrumental figure in organizing the New Baptist Covenant and next January's Celebration.

UPDATED LINKS:

Wade Burleson meets Jimmy Carter: "That Which Unites Us Is The Gospel Of Christ"
Ben Cole on meeting Jimmy Carter, New Baptist Covenant Part 1
Marty Duren of SBCOutPost meets Jimmy Carter
Brian Kaylor - New Baptist Covenant (MUST READ INSIDER TAKE)
Melissa Rogers - Huckabee, Grassley, and Graham to Speak at Celebration of NBC
EthicsDaily.com - Politicians, Preachers Headline 2008 Baptist Confab Program
Texas In Africa - baptists, baptists, baptists!
Mainstream Baptist - Republican Baptists Joint Democrat Baptists at NBC Celebration
Jesus Politics - Jimmy Carter meets with Southern Baptist Bloggers

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8 Comments:

Blogger Kaylor said...

This is going to be a great event and I hope that all Baptists will consider attending. I spent most of yesterday in Atlanta with others planning to make this historic gathering the best it can possibly be. Later in the day we got to meet with former President Carter and I was impressed with his desire for this gathering. I’ve written more about this historic gathering here

7:28 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Yea, the time I met Carter I was impressed as well. And I have to agree with Ben Cole, he is much shorter than one would expect!

The key now is to reach out to the churches/pastors and make sure they make plans to attend. The folks at my home church, only 2.5 hours away from downtown Atlanta, have yet to hear about NBC. So, this celebration needs to be advertised to those congregations.

7:58 AM

 
Blogger Kaylor said...

Yeah, one of the first things I thought when he walked up to me was that he was shorter than I expected.

9:52 AM

 
Blogger David said...

Will they invite the Anti-Manichaeist, who has written on Swedish Baptist Pietism to this meeting?

dlw

12:28 PM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I have met Carter twice. He is a personal hero. And I am trying to make plans to be at the NBC in Atlanta. However, I remain concerned (and have written the NBC now that they have a website) that some Baptist groups are being overlooked in invitations--including my own Baptist denomination, the Alliance of Baptists, but also the Free Will Baptists, the Seventh Day Baptists and others. I am glad to see that the Baptist Joint Committee has been invited. Now, what about the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB). Maybe Kaylor can be of some influence here, since he has been part of the planning process.

1:42 PM

 
Blogger Kaylor said...

Michael: In the meeting that I was in with Carter, the question was asked about why the Alliance had not been invited. The answer was that it was not a deliberate decision to ignore them. Instead, all members of the North American Baptist Fellowship (the regional body of the Baptist World Alliance) were invited to join in. The Alliance is apparently not a member of the NABF so they missed out on the first announcement in January (which was held in conjunction with a NABF meeting). However, it was stated that the Alliance and all Baptist groups are welcome and will be invited to participate. The leadership of these Baptist groups you mention should contact Jimmy Allen or others involved with the Celebration.

3:25 PM

 
Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I've been told the "not part of NABPF" part before. (It's not the A of B's fault. The BWA won't accept any group that is inclusive toward GLBT folk.) But there has been plenty of time since the initial meeting to invite the Alliance of Baptists. It's embarrassing for the AoB to have to ASK to come when others, including SBC conservative bloggers, get invited. The SBC isn't a part of the NABPF either--and by its own choice--but Carter and the others of the New Baptist Covenant went out of their way to invite them.
I think it would be embarrassing for any of the not-invited groups to have to ask if they can come, too--like uninvited guests trying to weasel invitations to a party. I hope the planners of this Celebration get that and make changes. I want to come--as a proud A o B member and a proud member of a church that is AWAB and a BPFNA partner--but not as somebody whose presence is just tolerated instead of actively recruited. I sent these concerns into the website of the New Baptist Covenant, but I have yet to see them acted upon.

6:01 PM

 
Blogger Kaylor said...

Michael: Your concerns are well stated and I will pass them on. I hope that you will feel completely welcome at this event. The Celebration is still early in its planning (the leaders of most of the committees just met last week), so hopefully things like this that have so far fallen through the cracks will be remedied.

6:52 PM

 

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