Two awards were handed out and a new documentary was screened at the annual luncheon of the Baptist Center for Ethics last Thursday in Tampa, Fla. BCE is the parent organization of EthicsDaily.com.
Babs Baugh, president of the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation, was recognized as EthicsDaily.com’s 2010 Baptist of the Year, and Robert Parham, BCE’s executive director, was presented with the Century of Service Leadership Award by the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board of American Baptist Churches-USA.
Baugh was named the 2010 Baptist of the Year in a Dec. 28 EthicsDaily.com editorial by Parham.
Parham wrote that Baugh represents “an eternal truth: Moral reformation, social justice and advancing the common good happen because somewhere, often offstage, an individual with moral grit and generous spirit writes checks to make things happen.”
At the luncheon, held in conjunction with the annual general assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Baugh was presented with a plaque and recognized in a speech by Wendell Griffen, a judge and pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Ark.
Griffen said Baptists always appreciate initiatives and gatherings that promote the common good, but that they rarely ask how the opportunities came to be.
He said that sort of behavior is what he calls “hog religion.”
Baugh has supported numerous institutions as president of the Baugh Foundation. Recipient bodies include the Baptist Center for Ethics, Central Baptist Theological Seminary and Baptist University of the Americas. Baugh was also a major backer of the 2008 New Baptist Covenant celebration in Atlanta.
“It’s almost like she was born to be good and born to make good things happen,” said Griffen, referring to the influential and Baptist-backing Baugh family into which she was born.
Griffen enumerated several events and organizations that happened because Baugh made them happen with “the Baptist thing we like most of all: a check.”
The crowd laughed, and Griffen said, “Somebody ought to say ‘Amen,’ Baptists.”
“Amen,” came the reply.
“She’s sort of like the sunshine,” said Griffen. “She doesn’t believe you have to make a lot of noise to do good.”
“I’d like you to help me out here today,” said Griffen, adding it was time to thank God for the source of much of the goodness that happens in the Baptist universe.
“We should not be like the hogs,” he said.
Baugh joined Griffen on the platform as the crowd stood and applauded.
Baugh began by thanking her husband, John Jarrett, and Derlene Williams, who she called her “right hand and left hand.”
Baugh then mentioned her parents, Eula Mae and John Baugh, and their commitment to church as she described how she came to be in her position.
“They have an only child daughter, and they die, and they leave me instructions that I’m supposed to take care of people that are good,” she said. “And Robert Parham is one of those people that’s good. And there are many, many Baptist entities that are part of free and faithful Baptists, that are part of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that deserve your support.”
She said those gathered should encourage Baptist bodies with their support, be it large or small.
The luncheon program was anchored by a screening of EthicsDaily.com’s upcoming documentary on immigration. A 31-minute version of the film was shown to the roughly 400 people in attendance.
The documentary, which focuses on the faith community’s response to the U.S. immigration crisis, features stories in five states: Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama and Iowa. (Click here to view documentary trailers.)
Parham moderated a brief discussion after the screening, which included an update on one of the documentary’s subjects by Laura Barclay, social ministries coordinator for CBF of North Carolina.
The final comment came from Enrique Martinez, who identified himself as a student.
“I look at this documentary, and it relates to me,” he said.
Martinez said two or three years ago, he lost the fear of being able to stand up and talk about his immigration status.
“I can get up in front of a group of people and say that I’m undocumented,” he said. “I came here to see my mother for the first time when I was about 8 years old, 9 years old. She came here to work to give me a better life.”
“This documentary is good to educate other people because they don’t know what someone like me feels,” said Martinez. “I’m actually part of this hidden society. It has fear of whether we should come out or not, whether we should tell our friends, whether we should tell our teachers that we’re undocumented because it’s hard.”
The currently untitled documentary received major funding from the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas. It will be released on DVD later this summer in both hour and half-hour versions with a study guide.