Formed to fill a void in practical and positive ethics resources for churches, the Baptist Center for Ethics celebrates 15 years of ministry this summer.

Announced at a press conference July 30, 1991, in Nashville, Tenn., BCE set out to chart a new way to think about ethics, at a time when Southern Baptists’ official moral-concerns agency was focusing attention on a few issues and adopting an “anti-everything” stance, while at the same time taking a more active role in secular politics.

The BCE’s approach instead advocated “careful moral reflection and practical solutions to real problems.”

Rejecting “moral indoctrination,” BCE has sought to equip Baptists to think for themselves on ethical issues.

As heir to the tradition of Baptist ethics pioneers like T.B. Maston and Henlee Barnette, BCE has tried to be a prophetic voice on matters of social justice, while advocating responsibility in areas of personal morality.

Rather than jumping on bandwagons of the left and right on polarizing issues, the organization has sought out centrist positions on consensus issues like racial reconciliation and substance abuse, while challenging Baptists to face with compassion complex ethical issues like healthcare, medical ethics and the environment.

The BCE’s first national conference, held Feb. 3-4, 1992, explored basic virtues to guide moderate Baptists in thinking through moral and ethical issues of the day.

BCE’s mission is to provide proactive, positive and practical ethics resources and services to congregations. BCE believes church leaders and faith communities possess the keys to developing moral character, teaching sound decision making, offering a clear moral witness to the larger culture and advancing social change. Our goal is to equip leaders and churches with quality, relevant resources and services from a christo-centric perspective.

Today the bulk of the agency’s work is divided into two divisions., a Web site featuring news, features, commentary and movie reviews, is updated five days a week. A companion e-newsletter is sent out Monday, Wednesday and Friday with summaries and links to full articles. Church and organizational Web pages link to our content via RSS. A weekly summary of news, named “Baptist Briefing,” is available as a printable download for handout in churches.

Acacia Resources is BCE’s publishing division. Acacia Resources produces study guides and undated online Sunday school curriculum designed to be biblical, practical and inexpensive. Through Acacia Resources, BCE also recently produced free worship and advocacy resources for supporting public education. Previously we offered worship guides for observing the anniversary of 9/11 and for viewing Steven Spielberg’s film “Munich.”

Registration is open for BCE’s 15th anniversary luncheon, scheduled noon-2 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Atlanta.

The program honors the traditions of Baptist ethics pioneers T.B. Maston, who taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1922 to 1963 and died in 1988 at age 90, and Henlee Barnette, who taught at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1951 to 1977 and died in October 2004 at age 93.

Keynote speaker is Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and a former U.S. Congressman. Also featured are Charles Wade, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; Larry McSwain, professor of ethics and leadership at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology; and Bill Wilson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dalton, Ga.

Click here to register and buy tickets.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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