Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship

Over the weekend I received in the mail my copy of Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship, edited by Rodney Wallace Kennedy and Derek C. Hatch, a new release from the Pickwick Publications imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. I provided one of the back-cover endorsements for the book:

"Free churches are increasingly finding their way to the liturgical riches of the whole church and finding there the resources they need to form faithful followers of Christ. The contributors to this volume have drawn on a wealth of pastoral experience and theological expertise to provide ministers of such churches with invaluable guidance in this journey."
—Steven R. Harmon, Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity

The co-editors of Gathering Together have connections with the congregational life of a Baptist community that has undertaken the sort of liturgical retrieval and renewal their book advocates. Kennedy is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dayton, Ohio. Earlier this year Associated Baptist Press reported on the Eucharistic hospitality FBC Dayton extended to a neighboring Episcopal parish during renovations to its church building in the story "Baptists host Episcopalians, wine. " Hatch, now Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, was a member of FBC Dayton during his Ph.D. studies at the Catholic-affiliated University of Dayton; a previous post on Ecclesial Theology called attention to Hatch's doctoral dissertation there examining critically the Baptist perspectives of E. Y. Mullins and George W. Truett on nature and grace in light of the work of Catholic theologian Henri de Lubac.

The book's Table of Contents appears below:

Derek C. Hatch and Rodney W. Kennedy

1 Worship and Becoming the Body of Christ
Kyle Childress

2 The Christian Year: Practicing the High Priesthood of
Michael D. Sciretti, Jr.

3 Liturgical Ties of Community
Amy Butler

4 Pastoral Prayers in Worship
Sharlande Sledge

5 Creeds and Freedom: Another Baptist Witness
Philip E. Thompson

6 Reclaiming the Liturgical Heart of Preaching
Rodney W. Kennedy

7 Communing Together: Baptists Worshiping in the Eucharist
Scott W. Bullard

8 Baptism: The Substance and the Sign
Elizabeth Newman

9 Music as Liturgy
Randall Bradley

10 The Missional Heart of Liturgy
Cameron Jorgenson


I Worship Resources
II Occasional Services

Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship may be ordered from the publisher in paperback and in a Kindle e-book edition from Amazon.


  1. Great job. Thanks to all who contributed. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

  2. Hi Steven. I'm eager to get my hands on this book, both for my own ministry and for my DMin studies. Looking over the list of contributors, though, I'm reminded of an issue that's been on the back burner of my mind for a while. As a somewhat conservative Baptist who enjoys liturgy, I'm always a bit puzzled to find that most "liturgical Baptists" seem to be moderates or liberals. The list of contributors to this particular book reinforces that impression: apart from possibly Jorgensen, Bradley, and Bullard, the names on the list are associated with the moderate CBF, the liberal Alliance of Baptists, or even the radical Associate of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. As a liturgically inclined Baptist yourself, and further as someone with ties to the CBF, why do you think that the movement attracts a statistically disproportionate number of moderates and liberals? Conversely, why do conservatives tend to shy away from this sort of thing?

  3. Eugene, I think a factor may be different trajectories taken from twin emphases held in tension in the early Baptist tension: biblicism and freedom. More conservative Baptists have tended to emphasize biblicism, and its application to liturgy means that worship practices without clear precedent in the New Testament are shunned. More moderate/progressive Baptists have tended to emphasize the freedom of the Baptist tradition and feel themselves free to adopt worship practices with post-biblical origins or to see themselves as more ecumenically oriented and open to ecumenical inspiration of Baptist worship. But that's likely an oversimplification with all sorts of exceptions. Another factor may be a different set of ecumenical patterns: conservative Baptists finding more in common with some non-denominational evangelicals, and moderate/progressive Baptists finding much in common with mainline Protestants, with these commonalities sometimes reflected in patterns of worship.