A few of us tried today to get Henlee Barnette (#HenleeBarnette) to trend on Twitter in an attempt to get the Associated Baptist Press to post something on the event of what would have been his one hundredth birthday.
Instead (ABP put up one of the below notes today!), what I would like to have seen appear there appears here for you to read. I first learned of Henlee Barnette from his son, a friend, mentor, pastor, and professor of mine and many others. This brief tribute is for him and his father, whose memory inspires a new generation of Baptists.
As a student at Samford University, I find myself in and out of professors’ offices a lot. Sometimes it’s for help on a paper. Sometimes it’s for academic advising. What courses should I take? When? Other times, it’s to talk theology — Kathryn Tanner to Karl Barth. Dr. Jim Barnette is my advisor as a religion major, and I end up in his office probably more often than he has time to spare. Whenever I’m in there, I can’t help but notice a picture hanging on the wall. It’s small, in between two windows. I didn’t think much of it at first, but one day I took a closer look at it and I recognized one of the figures. It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I asked Dr. Barnette who the other man in the picture was and he smiled broadly. “That’s my dad,” he said. “Henlee Barnette.”
Read the rest of this entry
Here to Stay: The Story of a Reluctant Baptist
Part Three: Ana-baptist (It’s a Pun)
(To Part Two)
So far, I’ve narrated this story in a series of events. At this point in the chronology, however, that method of story telling ceases to function properly. When I left Birmingham, I was confident that I would begin the process of joining the Episcopalians upon my return. By the time I actually returned to Birmingham, however, I was a firmly rooted Baptist again. I wish I could tell you that it was some certain experience, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t even a set of experiences. I worked at a Baptist Church that summer. I met with the pastor of my childhood church — an experience that was very valuable, and I can’t thank him enough for encouraging my search. There was no moment when I decided to remain Baptist though. So, why? Read the rest of this entry
His mother and brothers arrived. They stood outside and sent word to him, calling for him. A crowd was seated around him, and those sent to him said, “Look, your mother, brothers, and sisters are outside looking for you.” He replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Looking around at those seated around him in a circle, he said, “Look, here are my mother and brothers. Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother.” Mark 3:31-35 CEB
There’s something peculiar about the way the Church is supposed to be. The Church is not supposed to be an organization or a social club. It has order and hierarchy, yes, but it is also a community — and not just any community; the church is a family.
We say so casually (in the Baptist Church, at least), “Brother Mike,” or “Sister Amy,” but do we mean it? Do we mean it when we call to each other in familial terms? There is meaning infused in those terms not just coincidence. We don’t call each other family because it’s a nice metaphor — it’s supposed to be true.