June 1 is target release date for an online Bible study produced by the Baptist Center for Ethics leading up to a New Baptist Covenant Celebration scheduled early next year in Atlanta.

The eight-week study, to be offered free of charge, will focus on the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke–where Jesus outlines his mission to bring liberation and justice for the poor and oppressed. It is a theme embraced by planners of a Jan. 30-Feb. 1 confab announced by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, along with leaders of about 40 North American Baptist organizations at a press conference Jan. 9.

“The New Baptist Covenant Celebration is more than a meeting,” Jimmy Allen, coordinator and program chair of the meeting said in an e-mail statement. “It is a reflection of a movement deep and real that is taking place among Baptist believers across the nation.”

“Movements that last come because of deep spiritual roots,” Allen continued. “The nurturing of those roots to fruit will be greatly enhanced by congregations and prayer groups using the series of studies on Luke 4 developed by the Baptist Center for Ethics. I hope it sweeps the nation.”

The historic gathering is an attempt to unify what have been termed “Golden Rule” Baptists around shared concerns of care for the poor, war and care of the environment. Planners hope a “Luke 4” agenda will transcend racial and doctrinal lines that have divided Baptists too long.

Writers of student guides have been recruited from across the spectrum of groups expected to be present at the gathering. They include:

Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

Daniel and Dina Carro. He is Latino ministries ambassador for the Baptist General Association of Virginia. She is a member of the Baptist World Alliance study and research committee.

William Epps, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles and editor of the National Baptist Voice, magazine of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

David Goatley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention.

Aidsand Wright-Riggins, executive director of National Ministries, American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

Gilberto Gutierrez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista in Horeb, Mexico, and president of the National Baptist Convention of Mexico.

Carol Anne Janzen, lecturer in Christian education at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Novia Scotia.

Don Sewell, liaison to worldwide Baptist bodies with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Heather Entrekin, senior pastor of Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, Kan. (ABC/USA).

Leader guides for each lesson will be written by Jan Turrentine, editor of Acacia Resources, the publishing imprint of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

Supplementing the student and leader guides will be a series of Bible commentaries written by faculty members of the School of Religion at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Commentary authors are Mark McEntire, associate professor of religion; Bob Byrd, professor of religion; Darrell Gwaltney, dean of the School of Religion; Andy Watts, assistant professor of religion; Stephanie Crowder, assistant professor of religion; Judy Skeen, professor of religion; Marty Bell, professor of religion. ToddLake, vice president for spiritual life, will also contribute a commentary article.

In addition to enhancing student Bible study, commentary articles will be a resource for sermon series on Luke 4.

BCE will provide supplemental worship material, post video clips about Luke 4 on its Web site and produce a DVD related to the text.

The project is being funded by a number of partner organizations. That list will be announced later.

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