Religion Professor Receives Distinguished Service Award

June 13, 2006

The Baptist History and Heritage Society presented its prestigious award, the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to Baptist History, to Dr. Bill Pitts, professor of religion at Baylor University. The award was presented at the society's annual meeting on June 2 at First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes and pays tribute to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the cause of Baptist history. Recipients have exhibited rare and unusual dedication to the cause of Baptist history through writing, teaching, denominational service, archival and library development, historical center and society work on national and state levels, communicating Baptist heritage, and interpreting the history of Baptists.

A news release from the society said, "Over the years, Pitts has had much influence on the Baptist History and Heritage Society, for he has taught and mentored numerous men and women who are members of the Society, many of whom have served as officers and leaders. In fact, he served as the dissertation supervisor for three of the last four presidents of the Society and for the Society's associate executive director."

A Baylor alumnus who received a bachelor's degree in history and religion, Pitts earned a master of divinity degree with a concentration in church history from Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he was awarded the Luke-Acts Prize and the Church History Prize. In 1969, he completed his doctorate with a major in church history and a minor in American history at Vanderbilt.

Pitts has served on the faculties of four Baptist universities: Baylor, Dallas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University and Mercer University. He has been on the Baylor faculty since 1975 and for many years, participated in Baylor in Great Britain, a summer study-abroad program. He also served as director of graduate studies in the department of religion from 1988-1991 and will resume that role in August. He is a past recipient of the Mortar Board Distinguished Professor award and the Phi Kappa Chi Professor award.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Pitts has written numerous articles for journals, books and encyclopedias. He was the Book Review editor for the Journal of Church and State and served as editor of the Journal of Texas Baptist History for more than 20 years.

Pitts is a member of First Baptist Church of Waco, where he has served as a deacon and a training session leader. He also has lectured in area churches and served on associational and state convention committees. He has been the president of the Independence Association, which annually elects the Texas Baptist Elder Statesman.

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