Monday, June 20, 2016

Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church opens amidst withdrawals

General session of the Holy and Great Council of the
Orthodox Church at the Orthodox Academy of Crete
The "Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church," meeting June 19-26 in Crete, has opened amidst the withdrawals of five of the autocephalous patriarchates from the Council--most notably the Russian church headed by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. The story is reported by multiple international media sources; below are links to a news story and an analysis feature released by Deutsche Welle:


World Orthodox Leaders Meet in Landmark Event

Why the Orthodox Church council planned over 55 years could fail before it starts

Update: Q&A at press conference dated June 10.

Press releases, documents, links to live feeds, videos, and photos related to the proceedings of the Council are available on the Council's website and Facebook page.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future now on Kindle

My latest book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press, 2016) is now available in the Kindle e-book format. On the book's Amazon Kindle page, one can download a free sample that includes frontal matter with preface, chapter 1, and a few pages of chapter 2--but without viewable footnotes. (The paid Kindle e-book does include access to the footnotes,)

Order the Kindle version of Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future from Amazon.

Order the print version of Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future from Baylor University Press or via Amazon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pilgrims Together: Baptist Identity and Christian Unity

Next week George Mason (Senior Pastor, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas) and Laura Anne Rodgers Levens (Assistant Professor of Christian Mission, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky) will host a conversation with Curtis Freeman (Director of the Baptist House of Studies, Duke Divinity School) and me about our recent books on Baptist identity in ecumenical perspective and their implications for Baptist congregational and denominational life during a workshop at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Greensboro, NC. Both books will be available for purchase and signing at the workshop. The workshop will be offered 1:30-2:30 PM on Thursday, June 23. Details from the General Assembly workshop schedule follow below; see the end of the post for ordering information for both books.

Pilgrims Together: Baptist Identity and Christian Unity
Location: Auditorium I

Description: Join George Mason and Laura Levens for conversation with Curtis Freeman and Steve Harmon, whose recent books explore Baptist identity in relation to Jesus’ prayer that his followers be one.

Presenters: George Mason, Senior Pastor, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas; Laura Rodgers Levens, Assistant Professor of Christian Mission, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky; Curtis W. Freeman, Director of the Baptist House of Studies, Duke Divinity School; Steven R. Harmon, Visiting Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity.

Curtis Freeman's book Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists (Baylor University Press, 2014) is available from Baylor University Press or via Amazon.

My book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press, 2016) is available from Baylor University Press or via Amazon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Anticipating the "Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church"


I hope all Christians will join me in heeding Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's call to remember in prayer the upcoming "Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church" that will convene at the Orthodox Academy in Crete June 16-27, 2016.

This event, for which planning began in 1961, has been compared to the Catholic Church's Second Vatican Council in terms of its significance for the life of the Orthodox Churches, internally and in relation to other Christian communions and the contemporary world. It is the first such full council of the Orthodox Churches held since the Seventh Ecumenical Council--the Second Council of Nicaea in AD 787.

Here are some links for those interested in learning more about the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church:

The web site maintained for the Council includes an informative historical overview and texts of key pre-conciliar documents. Among the latter, the document Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World may be of particular interest to readers of Ecclesial Theology.

In February 2016 the World Council of Churches issued a press release on preparations by the patriarchs of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches for the Council.

Here is a link to an audio interview with Bishop and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware about the Council.

An article by Crux magazine editor John L. Allen, Jr. published today (June 7) includes text from Allen's interview with Rev. John Chryssavgis, an archdeacon and theological adviser to Patriarch Bartholomew.

Rev. Chryssavgis also wrote an article for First Things offering "brief clarifications on basic questions surrounding the Council."

The venue for the Council, the Orthodox Academy in Crete, was the location for the plenary meeting of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches that I attended in October 2009 as a representative of the Baptist World Alliance. Below are some photos I took of the facility on that occasion.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Panel response to Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future

Next Tuesday (May 24) a panel representing the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion and the Baptist History and Heritage Society will respond to my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press, 2016), followed by my own response. The two organizations are meeting at Baylor University's Truett Seminary. Baylor University Press will have copies of the book available for purchase and signing after the panel session with a special conference discount.

Order Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future from Baylor University Press or via Amazon.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future at Calvary Baptist Church, Asheville, NC

I will be speaking on themes in my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press) at Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, North Carolina (531 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806) on Wednesday evening, April 20, 2016. A spaghetti dinner will be served at 5:30 PM ($6/person) prior to the teaching session, which will begin at 6:00 PM.

This educational opportunity is sponsored by the Pittman Center for Congregational Enrichment at Gardner-Webb University.

Contact Calvary Baptist Church with questions about the event: (828) 253-7301 or office@calvaryasheville.com.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future book signing at Gardner-Webb

I'll be signing copies of my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press) during the "Meet the Authors" event at Gardner-Webb University on Monday, April 11, from 3:00 until 5:00 PM at Dover Library on the Gardner-Webb campus in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the signing, courtesy of the campus shop.

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future is also available from Baylor University Press and via Amazon.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wordle rendering of Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future

What's my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future about? Here's a rendering of prominent themes in the text courtesy of the Wordle word cloud generator.

Order Baptist identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community from Baylor University Press or Amazon.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Baptist News Global previews Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future

Baptist News Global today published an article by news editor Bob Allen previewing my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press). Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

Baptists tend to be the “problem children” of the ecumenical movement but have gifts both to give and receive from the broader Christian community, a Baptist theologian who teaches in the school of divinity at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C., says in a new book.

Steven Harmon, who previously served on the faculties of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., and Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, N.C., argues in Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future, released March 1 by Baylor University Press, that Baptist communities and the churches from which they are separated need each other to be faithful to Jesus’ vision of a visibly united church in his high priestly prayer in John 17....(read the full article at Baptist News Global).

Order Baptist identity and the Ecumenical Future from Baylor University Press or Amazon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pilgrim Community: Ecumenism, Baptist-Style

On Friday, March 18, I'm leading the workshop "Pilgrim Community: Ecumenism, Baptist-Style" during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina General Assembly at Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh. The workshop draws from arguments and proposals in my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press). If you're attending the assembly and already have a copy of the book, bring it and I'll sign it. If you don't yet have a copy, there's still time to get one from Amazon; I'll also have flyers with a code for a 20% discount and free shipping from Baylor University Press (exp. 3/31) available at the workshop and at the Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity booth.