Baptist Briefs

Baptist Briefs: Court dismisses Louisiana College suit

The Supreme Court of Louisiana upheld lower-court rulings that judges cannot resolve a lawsuit alleging academic freedom violations at a Baptist school without delving into issues of theology and church governance, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. joe aguillard130Joe AguillardThe court refused to hear arguments by four former professors at Louisiana College, a Louisiana Baptist Convention institution, who filed a lawsuit in 2005 claiming administrators violated the school’s academic freedom policy and broke conditions of an earlier defamation lawsuit settled out of court in 1997. The lawsuit stemmed from a dispute that began shortly after Joe Aguillard became president of the college in 2005. The 9th Judicial District Court dismissed the case in March 2012, and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in November 2013, finding the dispute “centers on the nature of Baptist theology and church governance over how theology is taught at Louisiana College and would, thus, require the court to impermissibly entangle itself in deciding ecclesiastical matters.” Louisiana College recently voted to name Aguillard president emeritus and begin a search for a new leader. Argile Smith, associate dean of the Caskey School of Divinity, was named interim president.

Gaddy retiring from Interfaith Alliance. Welton Gaddy, pastor for preaching and worship at Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe, La., announced he will retire as president of the Interfaith Alliance at the end of 2014. welton gaddy130Welton GaddySince 1998, Gaddy, 72, has led the Washington-based organization started in 1994 to counter the Religious Right. Today, the Interfaith Alliance claims 185,000 members from 75 faith traditions. Gaddy served with the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention 1973 to 1977, and he was pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth from 1977 to 1984. He served on the board of Americans United for Separation of Church and State—including time as its president—before leaving to lead the Interfaith Alliance. Gaddy was involved in forming both the Alliance of Baptists in 1987 and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1991.

Baptist educator to lead Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. A group formed nearly 30 years ago to combat feminism in the evangelical church has named a Southern Baptist educator as its eighth and youngest president. owen strachan130Owen StrachanThe Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood announced the selection of Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College, to succeed Ligon Duncan, chancellor/CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, as its president. Theologian Wayne Grudem and pastor John Piper formed the group in 1987 to promote the “complementary differences between men and women” they believe the Bible teaches. Strachan, 32, has served as executive director of the council since the fall of 2012. He recently organized the largest gathering in the organization’s history, telling conference participants in Louisville, Ky., to “cancel the apology tour” and put forth a positive witness about what they believe is God’s intended path toward human flourishing.

Alliance Baptists address social justice. At its 2014 annual gathering in Portland, Maine, the Alliance of Baptists addressed equity for farm workers, racial justice and reconciliation, the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, and religious liberty in a multicultural world. The assembly also called on Alliance congregations and members to “join the broader Christian and interfaith community in speaking out against the system of mass incarceration and the negative impact it has had on communities of color and poor people.” Alliance officers elected for the next year are Mike Castle, pastor of Harmony Creek United Church of Christ in Kettering, Ohio, president; Leslie Withers, church administrator at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., treasurer; April Baker, pastor of Glendale Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., vice president; and Steve Jolly, pastor of Freemason Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va., secretary.

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