The Baptist Studies Program at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (CST) is celebrating its 20th anniversary October 11, at 5:30 p.m., in CST Room 102. The event includes dinner and a conversation led by former Baptist Studies Program Director Scott Hudgins about the future of Baptist life. It takes place during Candler’s Fall Conference, “The Art of Preaching.”

Rev. David W. Key, Sr., the program’s current director, believes what Candler offers is remarkable because of its variety of students. “The breadth of Baptist representation makes our program the most diverse one in the country,” Key said, noting that students come from all major branches of the Baptist family along with smaller Baptist groups.

Creating space for students of such different Baptist backgrounds was an important program goal when Nancy Ammerman, professor of sociology of religion, founded the program in 1991. Ammerman’s scholarly work on the Baptist Church, including the book “Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention,” appealed to students from various Baptist associations and organizations who may not have otherwise considered Candler School of Theology, which is a seminary of The United Methodist Church.  

“Candler’s excellence in theological education attracts Baptist students who want that academic rigor,” Key said. “Additionally, Candler’s focus on contextual education allows students to maintain their professional vocations as Baptists while completing their training and their degree.”

Rev. Noel L. Erskine, professor of theology and ethics, and an ordained Baptist minister, says that students in the program benefit from the number of Baptist faculty as well as local clergy who are involved with Candler. “One of the distinctive contributions of Baptist Studies at Candler is the offering of the course on Baptist theology. The first section of each class begins with a worship experience that leads students to ask about the role of worship in constructing Christian theology,” said Erskine.

In addition to interacting with local clergy, students in the Baptist Studies Program can expect to develop contacts on a national and international level. Candler faculty and students have contributed to the New Baptist Covenant and served on committees at the General Council Meetings of the Baptist World Alliance. Looking forward, the Baptist Studies Program is taking the lead on developing a relationship with Regent’s Park College of the University of Oxford.

Those attending “The Art of Preaching” fall conference may register for the Baptist Studies Program reunion event when they complete their conference registration. The cost is $25. For more information, go navigate to October 10.

Those not attending the conference may register by mailing a check for $25 made payable to the Baptist Studies Program in care of David W. Key, Sr., Candler School of Theology, Emory University, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA, 30322.