Baptists Today News

Boland honored with Baugh Laity Award; first Directors Emeriti installed

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. — The second annual John F. Baugh Laity Award was presented Sept. 19 to Tommy Boland during a dinner event held in conjunction with the Baptists Today Board of Directors meeting.

Boland has served in many leadership roles in the First Baptist Church of Chamblee, Ga., that merged into the early formation of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga. Among those positions of service, he was the treasurer of that congregation for more than 50 years.

A trustee and special counsel to the president for Mercer University, Boland also helped organize and lead the former Mainstream Baptist organization in Georgia — at which time he and the late lay leader John Baugh of Houston, for whom the award is named, would discuss the importance of lay engagement in Baptist life.

He described Baugh as being “very likeable,” having “a winnable soul,” and caring deeply about the Baptist witness.

Boland’s own contributions to the larger Baptist movement included serving as interim coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship following the retirement of his close friend and former Cecil Sherman — until Daniel Vestal assumed that post.

“In some ways, giving the John F. Baugh Laity Award to Tommy Boland tonight doesn’t fit,” said John Pierce, executive editor of Baptists Today, at the casual event held under a large tent overlooking the mountains of Western North Carolina. “For one, this is a rather informal affair and Tommy leans toward the formal.”

“Second, this award brings public recognition … and Tommy works hard at avoiding the spotlight,” he continued. “However, there are many more good reasons why presenting the second annual John F. Baugh Laity Award to Tommy Boland is most appropriate.”

Pierce said that because of Boland’s calm demeanor and steadfast service, many do not know of the significant influence he has had as a Baptist lay leader. One of those places of service, he noted, has been in “giving immeasurable leadership to Baptists Today over the past 15 years” that included “providing needed organizational guidance and serving effectively as a director and chairman of the Board.”

In 1954, Boland joined Wachovia Bank of Georgia (then the First National Bank of Atlanta) where he worked in the commercial credit department. His responsibilities grew quickly. In 1975, he was named senior credit officer for the bank and helped develop the bank credit cards we use today.

Eventually he would rise to the top, and served as Chairman of the Board of Wachovia Corporation of Georgia and Wachovia Bank of Georgia until his retirement in 1994.

Boland served as president of the Georgia State University Alumni Association, trustee and treasurer of the Georgia Baptist Foundation, and president of the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a director of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation, the United Way of Metro Atlanta and the Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center. He is trustee emeritus of the Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center in Atlanta as well.

“Mr. Boland has a long and deep commitment to the development of youth,” said Pierce, during the award presentation. “In the golden age of Baptist denominational life he led the youth department in his church’s Training Union program and was a Royal Ambassadors counselor as well as director of the summer camp program for more than 20 years.”

Boland and his wife Beth Ann, also a faithful volunteer who served on the board of Associated Baptist Press as well as in many other roles, are the parents to two (Edwin and Susan) and grandparents to three.

Baptists Today created the award last year to honor the memory of John Baugh and to recognize the many contributions of laypersons in Baptist life. The inaugural award was presented to Patricia Ayres of Austin, Texas, in the San Antonio home of Babs Baugh, at the same time Baptists Today presented its annual Judson-Rice Award to the Baugh family.

“We continue this good, new tradition of honoring a superb Baptist lay leader, while raising the visibility of all lay leadership in Baptist life,” said Pierce at the gathering of Baptists from the mountain region of North Carolina to enjoy barbecue and Appalachian music and pay tribute to good leadership.

Pierce thanked Boland for bringing his “exceptional leadership and organizational skills and resources to important places in Baptist life — including Baptists Today.”

About 15 years ago, when the 30-year-old news journal was at a crossroads, Boland was a key person in setting Baptists Today on a new course.

“I thought there was a really good reason for it continuing or I wouldn’t have gotten involved with it,” Boland said of that time.

The news journal, today, he said proudly, is “comprehensive in a fashion the average layperson can use.”

Boland also played a strategic role in the expansion of Baptists Today into new publishing opportunities through the Nurturing Faith initiative, said Pierce.

“We are very grateful to him for all he has done — for so many, for so long, so faithfully.”

Boland was also among the first class of Directors Emeriti to be installed by the news journal board.

Baptists Today’s greatest strength is the independence and influence of its Board of Directors,” said Executive Editor John Pierce during this dinner event as part of the news journal’s board meeting.

Earlier this year, the Executive Committee created the designations of “director emeritus” and “director emerita” to honor persons who have made significant contributions to the ministry of Baptists Today and continue to provide support and affirmation. The first class was inducted at the Sept. 19 dinner event.

Tommy Boland of Alpharetta, Ga., who at the same event was presented the John F. Baugh Laity Award, was designated as director emeritus.

Winnie Williams of Clemson, S.C., an author, professor and real estate developer who previously served as chair of the board was named director emerita. Winnie and her husband Woodie have been faithful supporters, Pierce noted, and were among the first to indicate they had included Baptists Today in their estate planning so their support will continue on into the future.

Kirby Godsey, chancellor of Mercer University, was installed as a director emeritus. A quote from Godsey was placed on the cover of the recently published commemorative book, Baptists Today @ 30: “This journal exists, in my judgment, not chiefly so the truth can be heard, but so that anyone’s version of the truth can be questioned.”

“The editorial freedom that I enjoy is rooted in that understanding of seeking truth and allowing a critical look at what might be mistaken as truth,” said Pierce, expressing gratitude for Godsey’s wise counsel and support.

Mary Etta Sanders, a lay leader from Dalton, Ga., was also named director emerita. Pierce described her as a dear friend and faithful supporter of Baptists Today.

 “Whenever I’m in Mary Etta’s presence, I feel affirmed and more energized about the mission at hand,” said Pierce. “She believes in what we are doing — and her understanding of and appreciation for our ministry rubs off on others — including me.”


Four new directors, including three lay leaders, began first terms on the Baptists Today board. Two other laypersons returned for new terms.

Andrew McGill is an active member of First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn., who helped in the formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Tennessee. He is vice president for strategy and business development for Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga.

Donna Wood is a leader in Vineville Baptist Church in Macon, Ga., where she chairs the finance committee. She is vice president of the Macon Accounting Center for Ricoh Americas Corporation.

Jim Strawn is a member of Dunwoody Baptist Church in Atlanta. After retiring from a career in radio, he was recruited by his former pastor, Daniel Vestal, to work in finance with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He retired from that role in 2004 and now buys, restores and sells old books.

David Hull is pastor of First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Ala. He has served many leadership roles including chair of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 2012 Task Force.

Clem White, an attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Sarah Timmerman, a retired teacher and lay leader in Cairo, Ga., returned to the board after serving six years at an earlier time.


At the concluding session, outgoing directors and officers were recognized for their service including chairman Walter Shurden of Macon, Ga., and Bob Cates of Rome, Ga.

Incoming officers are Chairman Don Brewer, a lay leader in First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Ga., and Vice Chair Cathy Campbell Turner of First Baptist Church of Clemson, S.C. Charles Schaible of Macon, Ga., chairs the Budget/Finance Committee and Jack Glasgow of Zebulon, N.C., chairs the Development/Marketing Committee.


Baptists Today News

Photo by Tony Cartledge. General Secretary Neville Callam, a native of Jamaica, speaks with participants in the 2013 annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance, held this year in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. 

Baptist World Alliance welcomes new members, calls for justice

By Tony W. Cartledge

Contributing editor

Baptists Today

OCHO RIOS, Jamaica — Global Baptists gathered in Ocho Rios for the 2013 annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), held July 1-6.

 In the July 5 General Council session, representatives of new member bodies were approved and recognized. The five new members bodies are: the Baptist Mission of South Haiti (50,000 members in 488 churches), the Connection of Haitian Baptist Churches for Integral Mission (15,000 members in 58 churches, the Turks and Caicos Islands Baptist Union (500 members in 13 churches), the Baptist Church of Congo (2,850 members in 26 churches), and the Convention of Independent Baptist Churches in Brazil (67,908 members in 437 churches).

This brings the number of member bodies in the BWA to about 230.

In other actions, Glen Stassen, professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, was honored with the 2013 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award. Stassen was lauded for more than 50 years of work as a tireless theorist and activist in the cause of peace and justice issues around the world.

Also the General Council approved 17 resolutions, most of them expressing appreciation for various persons or causes, but also in opposition to the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba and to call for a peaceful resolution of violence and unrest in the Middle East, North Africa, Myanmar and the Korean peninsula.

Other resolutions called for corrective action regarding child sex abuse in the church, gender inequality and basic human rights concerns around the world. Some of the resolutions emerged from various commissions that met earlier in the week to discuss human rights, missions, theological education, ethics, the environment and other subjects.

Special sessions were held to pay tribute to George Liele, a former American slave who planted churches in Jamaica and helped to bring an end to slavery there; to early Jamaican Baptist deacon and preacher Sam Sharpe, who also worked to end slavery; to African-American theologian J. Deotis Roberts; and to Duke McCall, long-time president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a lifelong supporter of BWA, which he served as president from 1980-85.

A report on dialogues between BWA representatives and Catholics was discussed, as well as ongoing dialogues with Muslims.

General Council members also approved a set of guidelines, two years in the making, of principles for respectful and fruitful dialogue among Baptist groups.

BWA’s 2014 annual gathering will be held July 6-12 in Izmir, Turkey, followed by a larger Baptist World Congress, held once every five years. That meeting will be held July 22-25, 2015, in Durban, South Africa — the first time a Baptist World Congress has been held in Africa.


Baptists Today News

News journal celebrates 30 years of ‘enabling, recording and shaping a Baptist movement’


GAINESVILLE, Ga. — An April 25 dinner event at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Ga., recalled the beginnings of an independent, national news journal in April 1983 and celebrated its evolution and expanding roles over the past 30 years.

First named SBC Today, the news journal was founded by veteran communicator Walker Knight who left a prestigious journalist role with the Southern Baptist Convention to launch the new publication. Strong support was found within his congregation, Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., and from Baptist laypersons and ministers from many states concerned about the free flow of information during a time of upheaval in denominational life.

Under the second editor, Jack U. Harwell, who had been forced into retirement from the state Baptist newspaper in Georgia, the publication was renamed Baptists Today and given a redesign and wider appeal outside SBC life. Knight and Harwell attended the celebration.

Nurturing Faith, Inc., the book and church resources arm of Baptists Today, premiered Knight’s recently published memoirs, Zion to Atlanta, at the event. Knight has given the rights and all proceeds from the book to Baptists Today.

“This book is a moving account of his life from growing up in Kentucky, to serving in World War II, to charting a course in courageous journalism,” said current editor John Pierce in presenting the author’s copy to the founding editor. “Walker is as honest in this book as those of us who know him would expect him to be — as he deals with life’s challenges including both the positive and negative influences of his father. You’ll want to read it.”

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Kate Campbell, whose music ranges from familiar hymns she learned as the daughter of a Baptist preacher to her own calls for justice and hope, moved the gathered crowd of 300.

Letters of tribute were read from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a member of the Gainesville congregation, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a longtime subscriber and supporter of Baptists Today.

Board Chairman Walter Shurden presented the author’s copy of a new book commemorating the news journal’s three decades of influence to Bruce Gourly, online editor for Baptists Today and executive director of the Baptist History & Heritage Society. The coffee-table book, sponsored by an estate gift from and dedicated to the memory of W. Reaves McCall of Hartsville, S.C., and titled Baptists Today at 30: Enabling, Recording and Shaping a Baptist Movement, was given to those in attendance.

A video of the same title, produced by Ben McDade, executive vice president of Baptists Today, and Cliff Williams of Argyle Multimedia, was also premiered featuring a variety of readers and supporters speaking of the news journal’s impact.

Calling for “regular and generous support for Baptists Today” as it moves into bright future, Shurden noted that the new commemorative book recounts “scores of Baptist laypeople [who] gave untold hours and dollars to keep this ministry vibrant.”

“Here is a rule of thumb,” he added. “If you ever wonder where to give, give where your friends have sacrificed and invested some of their lives.”


Tables at the dinner were sponsored and hosted by:

Alliance of Baptists

Don Brewer

Mary Jane Cardwell

Bob and Martha Cates

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia

First Baptist Church, Athens, Ga.

First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Ga.

Jack and Barbara Glasgow

Anne and Mark Green

Michael and Tina Helms

Fisher and Caroline Humphreys and Cynthia Wise

Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta, Ga.

Walker Knight

Bill and Judy Neal

Oakhurst Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga.

Roger and Suzii Paynter

Kathy Brittain Richardson

Drayton and Mary Etta Sanders

Charles and Pat Schaible

Macon and Boo Sheppard

Roy and Charlotte Cook Smith

Scott and Vickie Willis


Baptists Today News

William Hull, Scholar, BH&HS Author, Dies at 83

by Bruce Gourley

Dr. William Hull, renowned and prominent scholar, preacher, and author died December 10 at the age of 83 following a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Hull taught New Testament for 17 years at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, after which he held administrative positions that included that of dean and provost. He left Southern in 1975 to accept the pastorate at First Baptist Church of Shreveport, Louisiana, returning to academic life in 1987 as provost and university professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Retiring from Samford in 1996, Hull remained in Birmingham and assumed the position of theologian in residence at Mountain Brook Baptist Church.

William Hull was a prolific writer. A long-time member of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, two of his many works were published by the BH&HS. His Meaning of the Baptist Experience booklet is widely used in Baptist congregations, while his 2010 published Seminary in Crisis: The Strategic Response of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to the SBC Controversy, is an inside and comparative analysis of the leadership of Southern Seminary presidents Duke McCall and Roy Honeycutt during Southern Baptist Convention controversies between the years of 1968 and 1993.

Hull was preceded in death by his wife, Wylodine, in 2012. Son David Hull is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Alabama and a leader in Cooperative Baptist Fellowship life. Daughter Susan Hall Walker is an artist and blogger in Charleston, South Carolina. Granddaughter Emily Hull McGee, Minister to Young Adults at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, is a prominent young leader in CBF life.

Editor's Note:

A Memorial Service will be held at Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama (3631 Montevallo Road) on Monday, December 16 at 2:00 p.m. Family visitation will follow the service in Hudson Hall at the church.

Baptists Today News

Baptists Today to sponsor Nurturing Faith: Israel in November

Please note revised dates of November 6-17

Nurturing Faith Bible Studies writer Tony Cartledge, who holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Duke University, will lead Sunday school teachers and other interested persons on a personal tour of Israel Nov. 6-17, 2014.

Nurturing Faith: Israel will provide an opportunity to see firsthand the places where biblical stories came to life and to gain insights into the culture and languages of this setting.

Destinations will include Megiddo and other ancient cities, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes, the Golan Heights, the Jordan River, Jericho, Qumran, Masada and the Dead Sea.

In Jerusalem, the group will view the city from the Mount of Olives, walk the Palm Sunday Road, visit the Garden of Gethsemane and follow the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There will also be an opportunity to visit the City of David and slosh through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, to pray at the Western Wall, and to walk around the Temple Mount.

A visit to Bethlehem will include the Church of the Nativity and Shepherd’s Field — followed by a venture through the Valley of Elah to Moreshah, for
 a hands-on archaeological dig, bringing pottery and other finds to light for the first time in more than 2,000 years.

Other highlights will include the Israel Museum and Israel’s Holocaust memorial.

The cost of $3,800 includes airfare (from select cities), lodging, breakfasts and dinners, and travel on a luxury motor coach for the entire trip. The group will be joined by one of Israel’s most experienced and sought-after guides, Doron Heiliger.

Reservations, itinerary and other travel details will be available in upcoming issues of Baptists Today and here online soon.