Being Baptist at Candler
Our guest blogger this week is Michael Hunt (right), a third-year Master of Divinity student at Candler. An ordained Baptist minister, Michael is a Graduate Assistant Chaplain in the Emory Office of Religious Life, a Worship Coordinator with Candler’s Office of Worship, a member of the Candler Singers, and Candler’s Representative to the Emory Graduate Senate.
Coming to Candler as a Baptist, I knew that I would be surrounded by Wesley and all his peeps. But as I told the First Years during their orientation, it is indeed possible and enjoyable to be at Candler and be Baptist! In fact, I think Baptist students actually have the best of both worlds as they are able to participate in United Methodist events and also have our own Baptist Studies Program and events.
Most weeks in the semester you will find “the Baptist and friends” gathered at Everybody’s Pizza right off Emory’s campus, where local Baptist pastors come and break bread with us. They share what they learned from seminary and how it has or has not helped them now in their churches. These gatherings are normally in conjunction with the Baptist classes taught by faculty member Rev. David Key. We ask the pastors to share with us their favorite Baptist historical event or person, and in the spring they may talk to us about the theology of their churches and their favorite Baptist theologians.
Speaking of faculty, I must also say that we have great Baptist professors who teach a variety of courses. The Baptist faculty members are professors Noel Erskine, Andrea White, David Key, James Abbington, and Jennie Knight. They are all extremely approachable, knowledgeable, and supportive of all their students. They are willing to give of their time and resources to get to know us. They attended and participated in our Baptist Hymn Singing (which I must say was a great worship experience), and they also participated in a forum for students about what it means to them to be Baptist. They shared their own individual testimonies on why they are Baptist and remain Baptist even at a UM school.
Speaking of hymn singing, as I stated before, we had our first ever “Baptist Hymn Singing” where we highlighted different Baptist hymn-writers as well as songs from our Baptist tradition and heritage. This was lead by myself and Dr. James Abbington. We had a wonderful time of worship and can’t wait to do it again next semester. I am also very excited because Baptist will be well represented in Candler’s Worship next semester. We will have several Baptist ministers including gospel music legend Dr. Margaret Douroux. This spring we will also host Dr. Harry Eskew who is Professor Emeritus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he taught Music History and Hymnology and was Music Librarian, and remains an active scholar in hymnology and shape-note singing. Our students and the entire Candler community are in for a treat!
Speaking of students, the state of Baptist at Candler is strong. We have students participating in the Candler Coordinating Council, serving on and leading worship planning teams, actively involved in all levels of student organizations. Baptists at Candler serve churches and communities in a variety of leadership roles in addition to excelling academically!
So all and all, being a Baptist at Candler has its rewards and challenges. I have come to make great friends with many Candler colleagues, Baptist and otherwise. And I have also developed relationships with faculty who truly care about me and my journey of faith at Candler. As I prepare for graduation in May, I want to say thanks to all those who have been instrumental in keeping Baptist faith alive at Candler!