Bluefield College Celebrates 10th Annual Baptist Heritage Day
Bluefield College celebrated its history with an annual Baptist Heritage Day ceremony on campus in October, featuring a keynote address from an authority on Baptist life, Dr. James M. Dunn, former executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs.
October 16, 2009
For the 10th consecutive year, the entire campus community came together to "celebrate (the school's) Baptist tradition and (its) ongoing relationship with Virginia Baptists." The occasion, according to Campus Minister David Taylor, is designed to "help students, faculty, staff and the community remember that Bluefield College is a Baptist college," and as a Baptist-affiliated institution there are "certain ideals the college cherishes and celebrates."
President David Olive welcomed students, faculty, and staff to the traditional program and spoke of the privilege of having Dr. Dunn serve as keynote speaker.
"He has committed his life to the cause of separation of church and state, and he has extensive knowledge of our Baptist heritage," Dr. Olive said in introducing Dr. Dunn. "It is an honor to have him speak to our students today."
In addition to his nearly two decades of service to the Baptist Joint Committee, Dr. Dunn has served as executive director of the Christian Life Commission, chairman of the Ethics Commission for the Baptist World Alliance, president of Bread for the World, and pastor, campus minister, and college professor for several Baptist churches and schools.
Today, he is a resident professor of Christianity and public policy at Wake Forest University's School of Divinity, and in his remarks for BC's Baptist Heritage Day, he shared more than 400 years of Baptist history with students.
Dr. Dunn spoke of the faith's founders, including Thomas Helwys, "who defied the integration of religion and government in England" with his declaration, "The King is Not the Lord of My Conscience." He shared stories about Roger Williams, "who formed the first Baptist church in North America," and Walter Rauschenbusch, "who founded and championed the social gospel that set standards for hiring and the treatment of workers in American industry."
Dr. Dunn told the BC students about Martin Luther King, Jr., "who brought racial revolution to the faith," and George W. Truett and other founding fathers who fought for not only Baptist values, but also religious principles.
"The right of private judgment is the crown jewel for every person," said Dr. Dunn, "and for any individual or institution to dare come between God and the soul is an invasion of personal rights and freedoms and an insult to God."
The BC Baptist Heritage Day program also included scripture reading from students, special music from BC's instrumental ensemble, and a congregational singing of "In Christ, Our Liberty," led by music professor Bryant Moxley.
"This is a day in which we celebrate those who have made sacrifices so that we might have religious freedom," Moxley said, "so that we might have religious liberty. As the hymn goes, 'Now free in Christ it's time to stand, it's time to stand and cry that freedom will not live beyond our willingness to die."