Congregational leaders and renowned theologians urged the Baptist Center for Ethics last week to continue its mission of supplying quality and proactive resources to Christians across America.
“Bless you, BCE, for designing and distributing one of the very best and most useable electronic newsletters available to ministers and Christians in local churches,” Walter Shurden, Christianity department chair at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., said during BCE’s 10th anniversary banquet in Atlanta, Ga. “I have recommended [bcE*byte] to my children, friends and to some of my enemies.”
During its 10-year history, BCE kept congregations from tripping over spiritual, intellectual and theological elitism, he told a gathering of some 400 people at the Georgia World Congress Center where more than 20 states were represented.
“The symbols most associated with the Jesus of Nazareth are cross and towel, not the Ph.D. degree or a well-stuffed portfolio,” he said. “Help us, BCE, to take seriously what Jesus took seriously–including the excluded, blessing the unblessed and learning to live on less.”
Addressing the core meaning of Baptist faith currently discussed by various Baptist organizations in the United States and internationally, Shurden said the spirit of the Lord would come upon believers not because of individual ecstasy or the power of attracting crowds, but “because we preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind.”
“The poetry in Luke 4 is suggestive and imaginative, not exhaustive and prescriptive,” he added.
Speakers and attendees identified with BCE’s mission statement that 10 years ago proclaimed the need for becoming proactive, rather than reactive to concerns of the modern world.
Witnessing the social and economic comeuppance experienced by Baptists today, Shurden commended BCE on understanding the “McNugget ethics approach needed in the information age.”
In the documentary video unveiled at the banquet, BCE recognized bcE*byte’s popularity and announced further development of Y!, an electronic newsletter specifically targeted at youth leaders and parents embracing the Y generation.
While family-related hysteria has become a national pastime, BCE refused to feed people anxiety over the state of the American family, Bob Setzer, a Macon, Ga., pastor and BCE board member, told the group.
“BCE is both pastoral and prophetic. It helps people follow Jesus without fear,” he said.
Focusing on a widely ignored notion that the same news could be delivered differently, Georgia pastor and BCE board member Emmanuel McCall said the organization’s skill in reporting news and interpreting the Bible helps people live proactively in their congregations.
“I am confident that what [BCE] offers will speak to our needs and that the best years are yet to come,” Doug Dortch, a Florida pastor and BCE board member, said.
BCE’s conferences on citizenship, family, churches in transition and questions of leadership have challenged people and delivered voices otherwise not heard, he said.
“I hope that you are still standing strong 100 years from now to teach us that we need compassion to be the controlling and central idea of our lives,” Shurden said. “God bless you, BCE, and bless us through you.”