Dr. Glenn Jonas is a Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Jonas is also the author of a fine new book chronicling the rich 200-year history of First Baptist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina.
My dad – Dr. Doug Weaver – wrote the foreword to Jonas’ Nurturing the Vision: First Baptist Church, Raleigh, 1812-2012.
Glenn Jonas is the Charles B. Howard Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion in the Divinity School at Campbell University.
Here is a snippet from the foreword:
In recent years, the writing of local church history has increased dramatically in terms of the quality of research. Professional historians have been called upon to use their craft to tell a church’s story in proper historical context. The histories are not simply “three cheers” for what a church believes it has accomplished, but the narratives have been honest assessments of the successes and failures of church life, the difficulties and the joys of doing ministry.
…As you read the history of First Baptist Church, Raleigh, you will learn just how important the church has been to the history of Baptists in North Carolina. The histories of the church, Meredith College, Wake Forest University, and the news journal Biblical Recorder are inextricably intertwined. For example, Thomas Meredith, editor of the Biblical Recorder and one of the organizers of the North Carolina Baptist state convention, was an influential church member. Many of the church’s pastors were connected to Wake Forest; almost all of the editors of the Biblical Recorder joined the congregation.
One of the most influential women in Southern Baptist missions history, Fannie Heck, and other women involved in North Carolina missions were church members as well. Even prominent political figures–Governor W.W> Holder and more important, the church’s history is filled with the story of the commitment and service of “nameless” faithful believers, those Christians whose testimonies will not be found in textbooks or general history books, but whose experience of faith is the story of most Christians who follow Jesus.
Jonas tells the Baptist story well. He puts the church’s history into the larger historical contexts of America, Raleigh, and Baptist life. He highlights the role of women, a corrective to the way older histories were written, and he understands Baptists and the importance of freedom to the Baptist witness. Jonas is not afraid to mention difficult struggles in the church’s history, but he also is gracious and celebratory of the church’s achievements.
If you enjoy reading Baptist history, do yourself a favor and get this great book from Mercer University Press.