Shorter College leaves Georgia Baptist Convention
As expected, a dispute between Shorter College and the Georgia Baptist Convention over the school's board of trustees has led to a divorce between the two institutions.
"I'm relieved that the uncertainty is over, but I continue to be sad that two Christian groups have not been able to settle their issues without going to extremes," said Shorter President Ed Schrader.
Georgia Baptist Convention executive director, J. Robert White, also expressed regret. "We are very saddened by the decision made by the board of trustees of Shorter College," he said in a statement. "The Georgia Baptist Convention has contributed more than $26 million to Shorter College over the last 43 years. It is the continuing desire of the convention to share the relationship that the Georgia Baptist Convention and Shorter College have enjoyed."
The convention wanted to nominate candidates for the school's board of trustees to ensure that "only committed Baptists" filled the openings, but the school argued such an arrangement would damage its independence and risk its accreditation.
Some Baptist leaders say the convention needs to clamp down on its higher learning centers. "Instead of our Baptist kids coming home from college stronger in their faith, they come home with their faith totally destroyed," Georgia Baptist Convention leader Frank Cox, pastor of the North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Schrader says that separating from the convention doesn't mean the school isn't Baptist anymore. "I am well aware that there are schools who have distanced themselves from their home denominations and have become very secular," he said. "Shorter has a strong commitment from myself and our board that that is not going to happen."
Of more immediate concern is the $1.5 million the convention sent to the school each year (about 7 percent of the school's budget) and $9 million in funds designated for the school but frozen by the convention . "Most programs that [the convention] had been supporting in the past, we believe they will not be able to continue," Schrader told The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required). Schrader says the school would go to court to pursue the $9 million, but only as a "last straw."
L. Venchael Booth dies at 83
The founder and former president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, L. Venchael Booth, died November 16 in Memphis, where he lived with his daughter. His death came just four days after the city of Cincinnati, where he had pastored Zion Baptist Church for 32 years, named an intersection after him (an earlier attempt to rename a street after him proved controversial).
"His passing brings an end to an era and a giant of a man," said Hope Taft, wife of Ohio Gov. Robert Taft, in a letter read at a four-hour memorial service Friday attended by many black church luminaries.
"As pastor of Zion Baptist, he did what no other pastor before him had done; he began an extensive social outreach and sponsored construction of several housing complexes. Although the congregation was mostly poor, he set high financial goals and with hard work and faith in God, attained them," says the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"I don't know any black man who did more to help people in this city," Fred Shuttlesworth told The Cincinnati Post. "He was gentle, like Jesus. He didn't march. Booth was an organizer. He moved men, and he moved mountains."
The Post notes Christianity Today's recent profile of Booth, which appeared in our March 11 issue. "My purpose was to try to reform Baptists and help them to see that there was something to struggle for besides [political] office," Booth told CT's Ed Gilbreath. "The convention was organized to remove the sense of imperialism from the presidency and to lead our people to become more Christ-centered."
At the time of the interview, Booth had recently started pastoring Church Upon the Rock in Anderson, Indiana. "I'll just go as far as I can and stop when the Master calls me home," he said. "I have failed miserably at times, but it was those times that God knocked me to my knees and brought me to see that it was never my greatness that accomplished anything. It was always his grace. I can still share that with people."
Through his legacy, he still shares it.
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