Brackney Named Religion Department Chair

July 1, 1999

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Dr. William Henry Brackney, currently principal and professor of historical theology at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, has been named chairman of the department of religion at Baylor University, Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. announced July 1.

Brackney succeeds Dr. Glenn O. Hilburn, who returned to teaching a year ago after serving 15 years as chairman of the department, and Dr. Randall O'Brien, acting department chair and recently appointed executive assistant to President Sloan. Brackney will join the Baylor faculty in January 2000. Until then, Dr. Naymond H. Keathley and Dr. William H. Bellinger Jr., both professors of religion, will serve as co-conveners of the department.

"Dr. Brackney brings outstanding credentials to Baylor, both as an administrator and as a teacher at the undergraduate and graduate levels," said Dr. Wallace L. Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "As vice president and dean at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and as principal of McMaster Divinity College, he has built collegiality while developing academic excellence. He also brings to us a long history of building connections to Baptist churches, to strengthening those relationships and to being a highly effective preacher.

"I believe that Baylor's department of religion, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences, has gained an outstanding voice," Daniel said.

"Baylor is an outstanding world-class university, excellently poised for the 21st century," Brackney said. "The combination of Christian scholarship and service impresses me greatly. I am honored by the university's invitation and ready to meet the challenges of leading an outstanding department.

"For our family, a decade of service in Canada has been most rewarding and we are looking forward to our return to the U.S.," Brackney added.

A highly respected scholar and teacher, Brackney graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland in 1970. He later earned a master of arts degree in religion from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa., and his master's degree and doctorate with distinction from Temple University.

Brackney began his teaching career in 1973 in the history department at Temple University. From 1976-79 he taught at Houghton College, where he was named Most Outstanding Faculty Member in 1978. In 1979, he joined the faculty at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, where he later became director of the Baptist Studies Program in 1983. During the next two years, Brackney was director and faculty member of the Baptist Overseas Study Tour to England, Wales and Scotland, served as co-director of the Baptist Heritage Education Conference in Green Lake, Wisc., and was a visiting professor at the Baptist Theological Seminary in R+schlikon, Switzerland, and the Hungarian Baptist Theological Seminary in Budapest, Hungary. In 1985, he began teaching the history of Christianity as a professor at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, while also assuming the role of vice president and dean in 1986. In 1989, Brackney was named principal and professor of historical theology at McMaster Divinity College, where he also serves as chair of the college's senate. Brackney is also a member of the department of historical studies and the department of theology at the Toronto School of Theology.

A Baptist minister ordained in 1971 at Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in Dallas, Brackney has served both Baptist and Methodist congregations in Greenbelt, Md., Dallas, Bryn Mawr, Pa., and Hellertown, Pa. He was executive director of the American Baptist Historical Society from 1978-86 and archivist with American Baptist Churches, USA, from 1980-86. Brackney also is a member of the Division of Pastoral Resources, the Credentials Committee and the Ethical Standards in Ministry Task Force for the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec. Well-known in international circles as a leader with the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), Brackney currently serves as vice chair of the BWA's Academic and Theological Education Working Group and is a member of the Orthodox Churches Dialogue Team and the Human Rights Commission. In Canada, he is president of the Houghton College Foundation and a member of the general council of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the governing board of the Canadian Council of Churches, the Niagara-Hamilton Regional Board of the Canadian Bible Society and the board of governors of the National Canadian Bible Society. The author and editor of 15 books and numerous articles and book chapters, Brackney currently is editor of "Human Rights and the World's Major Religions," a series for Greenwood Press.

Brackney and his wife, Kathryn (Kitty), a free-lance artist, have three children: Noel, a graduate student in linguistics and Russian at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland; Erin, an undergraduate student in social work at McMaster University; and Raphe, a junior at Westdale Collegiate High School in Hamilton, Ontario.

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