CU to Celebrate 400 Years of Baptist Heritage at April 2 Ceremony at Louisville Campus

By Christina Miller, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.—Campbellsville University will host a celebration, in cooperation with the Baptist History and Heritage Society, in honor of 400 years of Baptist history and heritage, April 2, at the university’s Louisville campus.

Dr. Bill J. Leonard, dean and professor of church history at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Winston-Salem, N.C., will present the celebration’s keynote address titled, “Conscience and Dissent in a Believers’ Church: Renewing Baptist Global Identity.”

“The diversity of the participating Baptist entities is noteworthy and reflects some of the very rich tradition of the Baptist movement,” said the Rev. John E. Chowning, Campbellsville University’s vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president.

“Most historians agree that the Baptist movement began in 1609, the year after John Smyth and his congregation fled from England to Amsterdam to avoid persecution during the reign of King James. In 1609, Smyth and his followers established what is generally considered to be the first identifiable Baptist congregation,” Chowning said.

Today, the Baptist movement consists of a “diverse” group of baptized believers united by certain beliefs. According to Chowning, these include: the “personal saving relationship in Jesus Christ, strong emphasis on the Lordship of Jesus Christ, commitment to missions and evangelism, and belief in the Bible as the Word of God.”

“We invite Baptists, and others interested in this significant moment in Baptist history, to join us for this historic gathering of Baptist leaders and scholars,” Chowning said.

In addition to Leonard, there will be breakout sessions led by Dr. Lawrence Williams and Dr. Russell Awkard; Dr. W. Morgan Patterson and Dr. John Hurtgen; and Dr. Gregory Wills and Dr. David Whitlock.

Leonard, the keynote speaker, has held teaching posts at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Samford University and Seinan Gakuin University (Fukuoka, Japan).

Leonard holds the bachelor of arts degree from Texas Wesleyan College, the master of divinity from a Baptist seminary, and the Ph.D. from Boston University.

He is the author or editor of 15 books, including A Dictionary of Baptists in America, Christian in Appalachia: Profiles in Regional Pluarlism, and Baptist Ways: A History, a survey of Baptist history from 1600 to 2000.

His most recent book is titled Baptists in America, published by Columbia University Press (2005).

His spouse, Candyce Crew Leonard, is a professor in Humanities at Wake Forest. They have one daughter, Stephanie, and are members at First Baptist Church, Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem.

Dr. Lawrence H. Williams will lead the celebration’s first breakout session titled, “African American Baptist History.” Williams is a professor of African studies and history at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

Dr. Russell Awkard, pastor at New Zion Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., will serve as moderator for this session. He is also a moderator for the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky.

The second session, “Varieties of Baptists in Kentucky: An Overview,” will be lead by Dr. W. Morgan Patterson, a scholar in residence at Campbellsville University. The moderator for this session will be Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology and professor at Campbellsville University.

Session three, titled “Kentucky Baptist Contributions to the Larger Baptist Community,” will be lead by Dr. Gregory Wills, professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. and director of the Center for the Study of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. David Whitlock will serve as moderator for session three. Whitlock is the pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church in Lebanon, Ky., and adjunct professor and Church Relations Council member at Campbellsville University.

The closing session, titled “Future Direction for the Baptist Movement,” will feature a panel discussion. Panel members include Dr. Pamela R. Durso, associate executive director-treasurer of the Baptist History and Heritage Society in Atlanta, Ga., and Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, along with Awkard and Wills. Leonard will serve as moderator.

The event is free and no pre-registration is required.

Registration begins at 1 p.m., general session begins at 2 p.m. and the event will adjourn by 8:30 p.m.

Participating Baptist organizations include: American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky, Central District Association of Baptists, General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, J.H. Spencer Historical Society, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, Long Run Baptist Association and Simmons College of Kentucky.

Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,601 students who represent 93 Kentucky counties, 27 states and 31 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his tenth year as president.

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