Book Reviews: Diversity Leadership

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Building a House for all God’s Children: Diversity Leadership in the Church by Jeffrey S. Rogers (Abingdon)

Diversity is not new to the Christian church, but it may be a great challenge for church leadership today. Jeffrey Rogers states that Jesus was no stranger to diversity, and the Bible was written for a culturally and religiously diverse world.

In order for local congregations to respond adequately to diversity within and externally to the church, leadership must understand the impact of diversity and develop a new and energizing vision. Rogers believes congregations must develop new ways of seeing, thinking and behaving. He explores seven biblical responses to diversity from both the Old and New Testaments.

World religions are now American religions, and local congregations are full of varying values, beliefs, practices, spiritual styles and generational differences.

This is a book worthy of reading because the world religious community has moved into our neighborhood and stands at our doors.

Jerry Bradley, president

Children At Heart Ministries, Round Rock


Yeomen, Sharecroppers and Socialists: Plain Folk Protest in Texas, 1870-1914 by Kyle G. Wilkison (Texas A&M University Press)


This new book offers rich insights to readers interested in Texas history, rural sociology or the politics of dissent. Kyle Wilkison looks specifically at the lives of non-landholding farm families in one Northeast Texas county in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As a native Texan who pursued his doctoral studies in Southern history at Vanderbilt University, Wilkison writes with the empathy of an insider when he describes the people of rural Hunt County and the objectivity of an outsider when he analyzes their social, economic and political situations. He spins a fascinating tale of agrarian socialists who advanced radical economic approaches while clinging to their belief in white supremacy and arguing for Prohibition.

Of course, Christians figured into that movement, both in support and opposition. Modern Texas Baptists with a passing knowledge of their history may be surprised how the battle lines were drawn. Baptist Standard Editor J.B. Gambrell—popularly known as “the great commoner”—led the charge against the socialists and in defense of business interests. In contrast, Reddin Andrews—a Confederate veteran, Baylor University administrator, editor of the Texas Baptist Herald and East Texas Baptist pastor—served as a perennial Populist and later Socialist Party candidate.

Readers of the Baptist Standard may be particularly interested in a lengthy chapter on the role of religion in the lives of “plain folk” farm families. Wilkison notes the way both proponents and opponents of political dissent—particularly the Greenback, Populist and Socialist parties—appropriated the language of Zion when they appealed to rural audiences.

In some cases, politics shaped the reading of Scripture. In others, study of the New Testament shaped political convictions.

Ken Camp, managing editor

Baptist Standard, Dallas


The Bell Messenger by Robert Cornuke with Alton Gansky (Howard Books)

We only briefly meet the Bell Messenger, but his legacy reverberates throughout the novel. Fatally wounded in the Civil War, he gives his Bible to the Yankee soldier who has shot him. Thus begins the tradition of handing off this special book—and exposing another heart to the living Word.

The story follows the Bible’s passage through more than a hundred years, intertwining with and eventually joining the story of Gary Brandon, who has just been given the Bible by his drunken uncle as a graduation gift. Although you know it’s only paper and ink, you’ll find yourself wondering if there really is something magical about the book—even more importantly, if there might be something magical about your own Bible.

If you like mysteries and enjoy a romp through history, you’ll love The Bell Messenger. For suspenseful storytelling, absorbing characters and a powerful message, I give it two thumbs up.

Kathryn Aragon

First Baptist Church, Duncanville



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