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The day the truck unloaded: an executive note.

I checked my watch; it was 12:31 p.m. on June 4, 1999. Rebirth had just taken place. Four workmen had emptied the eighteen-wheel Mayflower moving van, and I had just signed the last sheet acknowledging receipt of sixteen skids of materials plus an office of furniture. It was time for a Coke. What had happened? Here are the facts.

The Southern Baptist Historical Society had forwarded its entire operation from Oklahoma Baptist University to the Baptist Building of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Brentwood. At his own initiative, James M. Porch, executive director-treasurer of the Tennessee Convention, had agreed to provide an excellent office suite to the Society without cost. With an earned doctor's degree in church history from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Porch possesses a strong affinity for the work of the Society.

After two years as part-time Society executive director, Slayden Yarbrough had decided to aim his life in new directions. During his service, Society membership, endowment, and annual receipts climbed dramatically. His wife Janis provided invaluable assistance to him in coordinating Society services. All Society members owe an enormous debt to the Yarbroughs for their excellent contributions.

During its annual meeting, held in May 1999 at William Jewell College, the Society adopted a new mission statement, "Helping Baptists discover, conserve, assess, and share their history"; adopted major goals for the period 1999-2009: to gain 5,000 new members, to secure 1,000,000 new endowment dollars, and to increase annual receipts to $320,000; chose Mel Hawkins, editor of Baptist History and Heritage, as its president; and elected me as its first full-time executive director-treasurer.

As the van drove off, I stood on the unloading dock and pondered as I drank my Coke. Like the children of Israel who had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, the Society had wandered from place to place for 61 years-since 1938. Now it had a magnificent new home in which to enter a new millennium. W. O. Carver, the founder, would be proud.

As Julie, our college daughter, might say, this is an "awesome challenge." I trust that God is in it. I trust that you are in it. I promise you that I am in it.

To Mel Hawkins and Jim Taulman, I say: Work hard to make Baptist History and Heritage a freedom-driven, ethically accountable, historically accurate, creatively interpreted, honest publication. Baptists need that kind of model. You can do it. Through your efforts, the Society and Carson-Newman College's Center for Baptist Studies will both impact today's readers and create a legacy to remember.
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Title Annotation:Southern Baptist Historical Society
Author:Deweese, Charles W.
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 1999
Words:430
Previous Article:Editorial.
Next Article:Southern Baptists and millennialism, 1900-2000: conceptual patterns and historical expressions.
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