By John Pierce

Filmmaker Ken Burns, on a news show last week, called for a “courageous conversation” about race in light of the racially motivated murders of church members in Charleston, S.C. He referred to the legacy of the American Civil War that he captured so amazingly in a 1990 documentary series on PBS.

Such conversations will be held Oct. 22-23 in a Nurturing Faith Experience in Chattanooga, Tenn. Join us!

Two historians will lead the Thursday evening sessions.

Bobby Lovett of Nashville, a retired senior history professor at Tennessee State University, will address the war’s lingering legacy.

Bruce Gourley of Bozeman, Mont., executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, will explore how Baptist believers — north and south, black and white — claimed God’s favor for their opposing positions.

Then conversations — that we hope will be constructive and perhaps courageous — will follow. Then a Friday morning tour of Civil War sites will provide added perspectives on a national conflict a century and a half ago that still impacts daily events.

Social media responses to the Charleston massacre revealed how revisionist histories about the war abound. Bruce Gourley’s exceptional research brings forth primary sources — “their own words” — to reveal what Christian political and military leaders, pulpiteers, editors and denominational leaders actually said in defense of their causes at that time.

Bruce’s collected research has appeared online and in a Baptists Today news journal series. Now the month-by-month entries are available in his new book Crucible of Faith & Freedom: Baptists and the American Civil War.

His book may be purchased in print or as a digital download here.

For younger readers (12 and up) to learn more about the American Civil War, Lynelle Mason’s historical novel, Behind Enemy Lines, may be ordered here.

Details on the Nurturing Faith Experience, Oct. 22-23, may be found here. Please put the dates on your calendar and register online or by mail.

These excellent resources can help foster clearer understanding and courageous conversations — which are always good substitutes for fiery, misinformed rhetoric that continually divides.

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