Saturday, May 05, 2007

Congratulations Dr. Bill Sherman

We claim him as a Tennessean, although he might still consider himself a missionary to Tennessee from Texas. The press release from Baylor University tells the story well:

The Baylor Alumni Association will honor Joy Fenner of Garland, Texas, and Dr. Bill Sherman of Fairview, Tenn., with the George W. Truett Distinguished Church Service Award, during Baylor University's morning and afternoon commencement exercises on May 12 at the Ferrell Center.

The association presents the award each spring to individuals who exemplify the life and career of George W. Truett and reflect the meaning of Baylor's motto, "Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana." A graduate of Baylor in 1897, Truett went on to pastor the largest Baptist congregation of his era and hold several prestigious positions in Baptist organizing bodies. During his nearly 50-year ministry at First Baptist Church of Dallas, Truett also served as president of both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist World Alliance.

Sherman will receive the honor at the 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony, while Fenner will be honored at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

A 1954 Baylor graduate, Sherman later earned another bachelor's degree and his doctorate in theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

During his career he has led six congregations from Texas to Tennessee and is currently pastor of First Baptist Church of Fairview, Tenn. In addition, he has been president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and a trustee of Belmont University, and he has served on the boards of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, Christian Life Commission and Southern Baptist Foundation.

Sherman also has worked abroad with volunteer missions to many countries including Jamaica, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Thailand and Malaysia. During his 30 years as pastor of Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville, Sherman filled more than 900 missions assignments in Bold Mission Thrust (my emphasis).

I remember what happened at Woodmont Baptist Church after Bill made his first mission trip to Guatelama in the late 1970's. If you've ever heard Bill say, "If that doesn't light your fire, then your wood is wet", then you know how that one trip tossed a match into a dry tinderbox and set that congregation on fire for missions. I had no idea that 900 assignments were filled during the Bold Mission Thrust era, but I do remember Bill suggesting (in half jest) that membership at Woodmont meant that you needed an up-to-date passport.

Bill is a true Baptist. He has been maligned by conservatives as being 'moderate' and somehow liberal... but in my eyes, Bill represents the best of what Baptist leadership should be. He is a friend to conservatives and liberals and understands what it means that we can learn to disagree, agreeably. Congratulations, Dr. Sherman for this well deserved honor!

I look forward to reading about Dr. Sherman's accomplishments in the Baptist & Reflector... but I am not holding my breath.

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