As a Baptist History Celebration got underway in Charleston Aug. 1, about 120 participants faced a nearly two-and-a-half hour session comprised mainly of four lectures, lasting until 10:00 p.m.

You have to love Baptist history to get excited about topics like “British Baptist Confessional History and Its Impact on American Baptist History.” Bill Brackney’s paper on that subject contained a wealth of interesting information. Unfortunately, the late hour and the profusion of fumes from the newly repainted sanctuary of Charleston’s First Baptist Church made it heavy going for listeners.

Previous lectures had included profiles of early Baptist leaders John Gill and John Gano, and a lengthy walk through “Seventeenth Century Old World’s Contribution to Baptist Hymnody in the New World,” an exercise that included the singing of what seemed like a dozen hymns — all the verses, of course.

I should have eaten dinner before the meeting.

The main organizer of the event is Gary Long, a strong Calvinist and the publisher of Particular Baptist Press, and there is a particularly (though not uniquely) Calvinistic slant to the meeting, as Bruce Gourley’s blog shows.

Both Gourley and I are covering/blogging from the event, a new venture for Baptists Today. As we celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Philadelphia Association, the first Baptist association in America, the opportunity to visit with Baptists of so many different backgrounds is worth the effort, we think. Watch the BT website for periodic, paint fume-free updates from the meeting, and possibly a vicarious taste of South Carolina barbeque.

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