Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dogs and Baptists

We have a dog. Imparting this information to you doesn't really tell you much. Dogs come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Chihuahuas and Saint Bernards are both dogs but one breed is far different than the other.

In like manner the Baptist family is a diverse group. I don't know how many types of Baptists there are, but one year and 18 days ago leaders of 40 Baptist organizations representing 20 million Baptists throughout North America met at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia and announced plans for a big meeting celebrating a "New Baptist Covenant." The announced gathering will begin in three days in Atlanta. A press release from the meeting last year mentioned above reported this ambitious aim:

"The covenant – endorsed by a racially, geographically and theologically diverse assembly of Baptists – underscores the group’s desire to speak and work together to create an authentic and genuine prophetic Baptist voice in North America. It goes on to reaffirm traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality. The group has specifically committed themselves to their obligations as Christians to fulfill the biblical mandate to promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick and the marginalized, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity."

President Jimmy Carter, a well known Baptist, said of the meeting, "This has been what may turn out to be one of the most historic events, at least in the history of Baptists in this country, and perhaps Christianity."

Actually we have three dogs. Earl is a big, red doberman. Pickles is a little, black miniature dachshund. Maxie is a gray mutt that is bigger than Pickles but smaller than Earl. It is a diverse group, but the three of them get along famously. They play together and they snuggle together when they are cold.

I wonder if a diverse group of Baptists will get along as well as my diverse group of dogs? I intend to find out. I'll be leaving for Atlanta on Wednesday morning with a fellow Baptist pastor to attend the New Baptist Covenant. I'll let you know how it goes.

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