Baylor Commemorates 400 Years Of Baptist History

November 30, 2009
This year, Baylor has continued to celebrate 400 years of Baptist heritage with a book release and campus events.

In the book The Acts of the Apostles: Four Centuries of Baptist Interpretation (Baylor University Press), often referred to as "The Baptists' Bible," the views of more than 120 Baptist ministers, authors and scholars through four centuries have been gathered. The book, which contains hundreds of rare writings and historical nuggets about Baptist interpretations of Acts, is the product of four years of research by more than 30 scholars and students from Texas to Scotland.

Three of the book's four editors are from Baylor, including Dr. Mikeal Parsons, The Kidd L. and Buna Hitchcock Mason Chair in Religion; Dr. C. Douglas Weaver, director of undergraduate studies and associate professor in the department of religion; and Dr. Beth Allison Barr, BA '96, assistant professor of European women's history at Baylor.

"The goal is to try to figure out how Baptists incorporated Scripture into confessions and sermons and articulated their identities--and to help us preserve and understand what it means to be Baptist," said Barr.

Research for the project was made possible by grants from Louisville Institute in Kentucky, Baylor, Wake Forest, Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston and Baylor Alumnus By Choice Charles DeLancey, a member of Tallowood.

At the Baptist World Alliance annual meeting in the Netherlands in the summer, 150 copies of the book were distributed for free due to the generosity of DeLancey.

The 948-page volume, which costs $100, has been selling briskly. The book is available at bookstores and online. For more information, visit

Presenters came from Scotland, New England, California and across the South to participate in the Colloquium on Baptist Church Music Sept. 24-25 at Truett Theological Seminary.

"This is a unique event, because, as far as I am aware, this is the first time a scholarly conference has been devoted exclusively to the study of church music among Baptists," said Dr. David Music, professor of church music.

Paper subjects ranged from "Hymns and the Baptist Presidents" to "Calvinism vs. Arminianism in Baptist Church Music" to Baptist hymns to music from world cultures. The Center for Christian Music Studies at Baylor University sponsored this scholarly event as part of the commemoration of the founding of the first Baptist church in 1609.

Emmy Award nominee, author and prize-winning historian Randall Balmer was among those making presentations at the Pruit Memorial Symposium themed "Religion, Politics and Society: The Baptist Contribution" held October 1-3.

Topics included historical Baptist stances on religious liberty, African-American contributions to the Baptist tradition and Baptist contributions to society.

"The Constitution is the best friend that religion has," Balmer said. "It essentially established this free marketplace for religions, for a competitive arena," he said. "People are trying to compete for followings, and that's a Baptist approach."

"The Pruit Symposium began as a way for students and faculty to explore current issues in our society and is designed to ensure there is at least a Baptist voice in that," said Dr. Bill Bellinger, chair of the Department of Religion at Baylor University.

The Pruit Memorial Symposium Endowment Fund was established in 1996 by Lev H. and Ella Wall Prichard, BA '63, in memory of Mrs. Helen Pruit Matthews and her brothers, Dr. Lee Tinkle Pruit and William Wall Pruit.
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