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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Driving from Durham, NC, to Dayton, OH, takes between eight and nine hours in good weather. In the rain, it takes a little longer. I talked a friend into making the drive with me, and we made it to Dayton on Thursday evening in time to check in at our conference and get to the supper we had paid for in advance. Our Sunday return was in rainy weather with a few traffic problems to slow us down.

I did not realize that we had so much to talk about, but both ways we managed to fill the hours with conversations about our work, our friends, our families, and our lives. It is a blessing to have good friends, and it would be even better to make more opportunities to be together.

The conference we attended is the annual joint meeting of two groups. The larger of the two is the College Theology Society, made up of mostly Roman Catholics who teach at mostly Roman Catholic University Departments of Religion. The smaller tag-along group is a sub-group of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion. The Association is divided into regions, and this region is called the "Region At Large." We are not from any particular geographic locations, like the Southeast Region or the Southwest Region. Instead, our region began meeting eleven years ago, at the suggestion of the late James Wm. McClendon, that we consider a joint meeting with a sibling society to foster ecumenical exchange and more opportunities for conversation than our usual half-day meetings allow.

Eleven years ago in Dayton, Ohio, some Baptists arrived to participate in the College Theology Society's annual meeting, including having some sessions of their own to present papers and some joint sessions with the College Theology Society sections. Over the years since that time, the NABPR group has met with the almost every year, having as many as 35 participants and as few as 15 (these numbers are approximate). This year, twenty-two people gathered, including thirteen who presented papers.

Much of the discussion focused on ecclesiology, including papers on church-state relations and others on how churches engage with other aspects of culture. Several papers were presented by Baptist students enrolled in a Ph. D. program at the University of Dayton, studying their tradition in dialogue with the U. S. Catholic tradition. These younger scholars brought well-researched and well-argued papers, which makes me believe they are in an excellent program. Their knowledge of Baptist history and theology is excellent, and they are being prodded to study it carefully.

The conversations in formal sessions, over meals, and in the hallways, and in dormitories were rich and invigorating. Talking with new and old colleagues helps encourage me to get on with my research and writing. I got good suggestions concerning publications I am working toward. I heard others developing ideas about which I have been thinking for many years.

So thanks to the NABPR, the CTS, the U. of Dayton, and to friends who made this conference go so well. As the Vice President, I planned this year's program. Next year, as President, I will be responsible to prepare and deliver a presidential address. The meeting will be held at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. We look forward to having great discussions about Baptist history, theology, and biblical studies there on May 30-June 1, 2008.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Hi Doc,

Just checking out the blog. Sooo, that's what you were doing in Ohio... very interesting group.

Marcus Croom

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