Baptists hold dialogue with Pope Francis
Theologian Steven R. Harmon was part of a group of Baptists who met with Pope Francis I at the Vatican last month.
Harmon is an associate professor of historical theology at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. He is an author, lecturer and veteran of global ecumenical relations with several years of experience in dialogue between Baptists and the Roman Catholic Church.
In mid-December, Harmon and others representing the Baptist World Alliance attended the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The theme of the meeting was “Context of Common Witness,” which considered the cultural state of Christianity around the world.
The week of talks included an audience with the pontiff.
“When we met Pope Francis, we were impressed with his genuine joyfulness,” Harmon said in a university news release. “He greeted us by imploring, ‘Pray for me!’ and we assured him that we do and would continue to do so.”
The pope included a warning during the audience.
“He also said to us, ‘We must find a way to get together, or they will eat us raw!’ We interpreted this to mean something like, ‘If we don’t find a way to live in unity, the enemies of the gospel will eat us alive!’”
The 2018 meetings in Rome were the latest in a series of dialogues between Protestant groups and the Vatican.
Harmon served as a member of the Baptist delegation from 2006 to 2010. This year the Baptist-Catholic group will meet in Warsaw, Poland. The meetings are scheduled to continue through 2021.
Prayers for national healing
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has joined at least 14 other faith groups for a month of prayer intended to heal the social and political divisions currently engulfing the nation, CBF’s Fellowship Southwest recently announced.
It’s part of an effort called “The National Call for Reflection, Prayer and Reconciliation.” It calls for participants to pray for “ways to bridge the bitter partisan divide and promote greater civility and respect in public life.”
The beginning of Congressional and state legislative sessions this month inspired the timing of the event, Fellowship Southwest said in a recent electronic mailing. The National Institute for Civil Discourse launched the prayer campaign.
That organization’s web site offers scripture verses, prayers, sample readings and sermons for those interested in participating.
Bestselling author to lecture at McAfee
A New York Times best-selling author will deliver the 2019 William L. Self Preaching Lectures at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology.
The university announced that Barbara Brown Taylor, also an Episcopal priest and teacher, will present the talks Feb. 11-12 in the Cecil B. Day Hall on the Atlanta campus.
Taylor has served on the faculty at McAfee, as well as at Piedmont College, Columbia Theological Seminary, Candler School of Theology and Emory University.
She is the author of more than a dozen books and is currently writing Holy Envy, which is planned for publication in April by HarperOne.
Taylor’s lineup of awards includes Georgia Woman of the Year in 2015 and being named to Time magazine’s 2014 list of Most Influential People. Her writings have been translated into five languages.
At McAfee next month, Taylor will offer a three-lecture series themed “How My Mind Has Changed About Preaching.” The lectures will be presented at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 11, and at 11 a.m. Feb. 12.
“Having Barbara Brown Taylor for this year’s lecture series is a wonderful tribute to the legacy of Dr. Self, another great preacher of repute,” Greg DeLoach, interim dean of McAfee School of Theology, said in a news release. “Her words of proclamation are often poetic, at times provocative, and nearly always persuasive.”
The lecture series is named in honor of William L. Self, a former Mercer trustee with a national reputation as a preacher, pastor, author and lecturer, the university said.
The event is free to any seminary student in Atlanta, with required registration. For others the cost is $60 per person. A dinner, at $25 per person, will be held between the first two lectures.
Contact Diane Frazier at (678) 547-6470 or at [email protected] for more information or to register.