Posts Tagged Furman

A Great Host Surrounds Us – Celebrating 335 Years

Not many churches in the United States can boast of being 335 years old, but on September 24, 2017 First Baptist Church of Charleston will celebrate that honor. The current sanctuary, designed by Robert Mills, was dedicated in 1822. The congregation moved from Kittery, Maine in 1696. Mr. Elliott gave the current property for a Baptist church in 1699. We know there has been a Baptist church at this location since 1701.

It is inspiring to think about the people who have worshipped here, the ministers who have served here, the ministers and missionaries that the church has produced. The most significant milestone is the thousands of ordinary people who have contributed thousands of hours and millions of dollars to make our world a better place. We may never know their names but they have built and repaired houses, taught school, mentored children, served in the homeless shelter, sang in retirement homes and jails, coached sports, visited in homes and hospitals, prepared and served meals to the bereaved, packed school bags, gone on local and foreign mission trips, visited the sick at home and in hospitals, performed yard work, tutored inner-city children and provided childcare and senior care. What has been the impact of 335 years of faithful service for no other reason than it is the right thing to do? What has been the impact of millions of hours of volunteer service to this city and around the world? No one can calculate the impact.

We remember the names of the famous pastors: Screven, Hart, Manly, Furman, Hamrick and organist David Redd, but these are the ones who inspired the volunteers and urged them on to fulfill the mission of the church. Before the Civil War the church had 200 African/American children in Sunday school and more Black members than White members. After the war the Black members were invited to remain and many of them did and served until their deaths. Others went across town and formed Morris Brown Baptist Church. From the beginning the pastors nurtured young prospective ministers. Furman University was the natural offspring of those efforts. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary grew out of Furman.

Dr. John Hamrick started a day school in 1947 long before the civil rights movement. He was the founding president of what is now Charleston Southern University. The church started the rehabilitation of Market Street during the pastorate of Paul Craven Jr. by purchasing a site and erecting the John Hamrick Activity Center in the early 1970s.

Under the leadership of the current pastor, the Rev. Marshall Blalock, the church is building a new high school campus on James Island and planning to renovate the historic campus downtown.

For 335 years the congregation and its leadership have modeled the scripture, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” There is still a vision and the future is bright.

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Thank You Is Not Enough for These Mind Benders

For the last several months I have kept the focus of this blog on Christian Civility, Christian Communication and Christian Ethics. I have asked so many thought provoking men and women whom I respect to help me. The John A. Hamrick Lectures which enriched our lives so deeply are no more. Carol and I have been unable to attend The Chautauqua Institution in New York State in the past couple of years where we have been so inspired by the speakers; therefore, I decided to create my own Chautauqua and to share it. How blessed I am that these people are a part of my life.

How could I have had a better start than with renowned Bible scholar and theologian Glenn Hinson? Glenn lectured at the Hamrick Lectureship. He was followed by a young dynamic Children’s Minister, Emory Hiott. Emory represents the future of the church. Next came my long term friend and mentor, Dr. Monty Knight. Rev. Dr. John Johnson, a friend from Furman University days and an Episcopal priest rounded out the first month.

August started with Thomas Crowl, a retired Judge, and author of, In His Service, a book of devotionals. Rev. Maria Swearengin, was the assistant chaplain at Furman University.  She is now a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Rev. Dr. Molly, Marshall, president of Central Baptist Seminary, and Rev. George Rossi followed through. George is a counselor at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Marshall spoke twice at the Hamrick Lectures.

Rev Stephanie McLeskey is the chaplain at Mars Hill University. Sarah Pinson is active in food health in the Charleston area and is an active member of Circular Congregation Church. Dr. Douglas Hunter at the time was the Director of the Whitfield Christian Life Center at Charleston Southern University.  Robert Darden is a professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media at Baylor University. Penn State University Press published his two volume history of protest songs and spirituals, Nothing but Love in God’s Waters. Rev. Paul Stouffer is a retired missionary and was a classmate at Mars Hill University.

Linda Wertheimer is the author of, Faith Ed. It is an absolutely splendid work. Kris Wood is the organizer for the Christian Writer’s Conferences at Green Lake, Wisconsin, Dr. Bill Leonard is a global speaker and professor at Wake Forest University Divinity School. Bill also spoke at the Hamrick Lectures and at the Lenten Lectures at Mepkin Abbey. Fredrick Schmidt is a professor at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Rev. Matt Sapp is the pastor of Heritage Fellowship Baptist Church in Canton, Georgia and a frequent contributor to www.ethicsdaily.com. Rev. Brian Skar is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, North Dakota. We met at the Green Lake Christian Writer’s Conference. Rev. Dr. Linda Bridges is part of the Spotlight International Education Group and a former faculty member at Wake Forest University Divinity School. She and I first met at the Chautauqua Institution. Rev. Deborah Meister is the former Rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. Rev. Julia Rusling is a priest associate at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dunwoody, GA.

Dr. Mark Labberton is the president of Fuller Evangelical Theological Seminary and Dr. Richard Mauw is President Emeritus. Dr. Mauw contributed a chapter to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. His book, Uncommon Decency, is a masterpiece. If you have not read it, go out and get it. While you are at it get his book, Praying at Burger King.

RChristina Embree is director of children and family ministries at Nicholasville United Methodist Church near Lexington, Kentucky. She is a wife, mother and writer. Dr. Eric Barreta is a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Shawnethea Monroe is the minister at Plymouth Church, United Church of Christ in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She has two posts back to back. My friend, Rev. George Rossi, is also back with an excellent discussion of physical, mental and spiritual health. Retired Judge Thomas Crowl is back to help us start the New Year.

What a tremendous blessing this has been. These contributions Merritt reading again and again. Thank you all.

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A Chaplain’s Hope for Furman University* – Rev. Maria Swearingen

IMG_3487 (4) - CopyThis summer, two days after nine African-American men and women were slaughtered by a white supremacist in Charleston, Furman-Lake-autumn600thousands of people gathered all over the state to hold hands, process outrage, and acknowledge communal sins. As I watched 350+ people from all races, creeds, and religious traditions pour into the Chapel that afternoon, I was hopeful about what a collective response to racism and xenophobia would look like for our country, for the state of South Carolina and for this campus.

I was hopeful then. I am hopeful now.

Even so, I must be clear. That hope is not borne out of ignorance. As a chaplain and as co-chair of Furman’s presidential committee on diversity and inclusion, I carry a host of stories that pain me to my core. I know Catholic students who have been told they are going to hell, Muslim community members who have been told that their tradition is inherently violent, gay and lesbian students who have suffered slurs and blatant disrespect, international students told to go back to where they came from, and the painful list goes on. Perhaps we like to think these things do not happen here, but unfortunately, they do.

We have much to be proud of. We have a long way to go.

Amidst my awareness, exhaustion, and outrage over moments like the ones I just described, I hold to the seemingly outlandish conviction that it is within spaces of great difference, personal, religious, social, and ideological, that the real project of the university comes to life. Homes for higher education were never meant to merely conceptualize democracy for textbook consumption. The real project has always been to facilitate space, learning, and opportunities for the enactment of democracy. This enlivens and enfleshes discourse, calling us into one another’s lives and stories. Here, we sit at tables and live in residence halls and actively listen in classrooms with people who help us grapple with our bias, re-imagine community beyond our well-worn contexts, and embrace the complexity of difference we all pose for one another.

My hope for “what’s next” at Furman is that we will intentionally and joyfully choose to be a place that presses into this grand experiment with equal doses of fervor and care. We must believe that the project is worth our time, and even at the cost of overdramatizing, the grounding force for civilization.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Reverend Maria Swearingen is in her sixth year as associate university chaplain at Furman University. Originally from Texas, she graduated from Baylor University and received her master of divinity from Duke University. She offers pastoral care and interreligious engagement to Furman’s faculty, staff, and students, along with alumni and friends of the university.

*This article first appeared in the Spring issue, Vol.59 issue of The Furman Magazine and is used here with permission.

 

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331 Years of Serving God and Man

On Sunday, September 29, 2013, First Baptist of Charleston, South Carolina will celebrate 331 years of service. The congregation was formed in Kittery, Maine in 1682 and moved to Charleston in 1696. In 1699 Mr. Elliott gave the property where the church is located. There has been a Baptist church on the site since 1701.

It is inspiring to think about all those who have worshiped here and the lives that have touched.  Everything of importance in early Baptist history happened here. Before the Civil War there were over 200 Black children in Sunday school. During that time there were more Black members than there were white members. After the Civil War those members were invited to stay and many did until their deaths.

Richard Furman is the most famous of its pastors. John A. Hamrick is the most important pastor since the Civil War. Dr. Hamrick established the day school and was the founding president of what is now Charleston Southern University.

The church has practiced open communion since its founding. The church is home to what is known as the Charleston Tradition which refers to formal worship and educated clergy. The major contributions of the church are Christian education and sending members into the ministry.

The church as established a reputation for its classical music in worship program undergirded by a talented volunteer choir now under the direction of David Templeton. That music will be a vital part of the anniversary celebration at 11 o’clock on June 29th.

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