Bluefield College celebrated its history with an annual Baptist Heritage Day ceremony on campus in October, featuring a keynote address from Dr. J. Bradley Creed, a onetime Baptist pastor and longtime Baptist higher education professor and administrator.
For the 11th consecutive year, the entire campus community came together to “celebrate the college’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.”
In a speech titled “Yankee Ingenuity and the Grace of God,” Dr. Creed shared with students the “pivotal eras in the history of Baptist life” and “three key figures who embody Baptist life in the United States.”
John Leland (1754-1841), Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789-1826), and Frances Wayland (1795-1865), Dr. Creed said, were some of the “pioneers” or “innovators” of the Baptist way. Leland, he told the students, was instrumental in getting religious liberty into the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.
“Leland was a gifted and effective communicator of the Gospel,” said Dr. Creed, a professor of religion and provost at Samford University in Alabama, “and a gift evangelist, who helped win the battle for religious liberty with humor and compelling arguments.”
Dr. Creed, whose experience in Baptist higher education also includes eight years as an associate dean, dean, and professor of Christian history at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Texas, said Judson played an equally important role in developing the Baptist faith as a foreign missions pioneer and international missionary who translated the Gospel into different languages.
“She played a remarkable role as a Christian woman leader,” said Dr. Creed about Judson.
Wayland, he added, was a reformer in Christian higher education, a public intellectual, and an innovator in the study of ethics and economics. To help grow the Baptist faith, Dr. Creed said, Wayland “was all about making Christian education more accessible and affordable to common people.”
“All three were committed to sharing the Gospel,” Dr. Creed said, “and seeing that people came to know the love of Jesus Christ.”
The BC Baptist Heritage Day program also included scripture reading and special music from BC’s select student voice ensemble, Variations.