A new course on religious liberty offered by Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, and in partnership with the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, offers the rare opportunity to be immersed in issues of religious liberty in both a historical and contemporary context.
Titled “A Shelter for Conscience: Religious Liberty among Baptists and other Dissenters” the course, taught by Dr. Bill Leonard, the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Church History at Wake Forest Divinity School, offers an introduction to the history of and continuing struggle for religious liberty through a six-day conversation and immersion that includes visits to historic religious liberty sites and agencies in Virginia and Washington, D.C., followed by four weeks of research and online discussion.
Objectives for the course include:
• Identifying major elements of religious dissent, with particular focus on religious liberty in the United States;
• Developing a basic knowledge of the development of religious liberty in the U.S. from the colonial period to the present;
• Surveying the relationship between religious liberty and religious dissent, with particular attention to the work of the Baptists and other religious groups across the
• Engaging in direct conversation with persons who are currently addressing issues related to religious liberty, church-state interaction and religious aspects of American
public policy; and
• Reflecting theologically on religious dissent and religious liberty and determining ways to engage persons in their ministry settings through education and calls to action.
Travel hosts will be Fred Anderson, former director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, and Nathan Taylor, director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, for the site visits in Virginia and Washington, D.C., providing historical introductions, and connecting the group with other resource people in local churches and agencies, and Brent Walker and Amanda Tyler, of the Baptist Joint Committee, Washington, D.C, serving as guides and discussion leaders for the visit to Washington.
This is not a new partnership between BTSR and STVU. The two seminaries have been working together for some time to facilitate understanding and fellowship between the two institutions. They have decided to make their partnership official this summer, however, as they enter into a Covenant of Action with the New Baptist Covenant. Covenant of Actions bring together Baptist churches or organizations from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to build relationships with each other and work together to create positive change in the community beyond their walls.
Learn more about the Covenant of Action program with New Baptist Covenant by clicking here.
— By Lindsay Bergstrom, Director of Operations and Communications, New Baptist Covenant