• Pro Ecclesia: How Baylor programs serve the Church

    Interior of Powell Chapel, with wooden pews and stained glass windows

    It only makes sense that a university whose motto reads “Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana” — “for the Church, for Texas” — would build programs designed specifically to serve the Church, both close to home and around the world.

    And that’s exactly what you’ll find, all across Baylor’s campus — efforts designed specifically to build up and support pastors, congregations, theologians, and other parts of the body of Christ. Here’s just a sampling:

    * Program for the Future Church: Much has been written about the challenges that face the Church today. Baylor’s Program for the Future Church connects professors with church and community leaders to listen, imagine and pilot solutions for such challenges.

    * Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching: Truett prepares students for ministry in a variety of settings, and many of them will pursue the call to preach. The Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching, named in honor of the late minister Kyle Lake (BA ’94, MDiv ’97) offers conferences, sabbatical programs, academic resources and more to elevate future preachers and “the centrality of preaching” within the Church.

    * Alleluia Conference: Music ministers find resources for enrichment at the School of Music’s annual Alleluia Conference, designed to re-energize and inspire those who lead corporate worship at their churches. Workshops, breakout sessions, panels, exhibits and more are part of each summer’s event.

    * Black Church Studies Program: This growing program works to create awareness and appreciation of the traditions of the Black Church and to build relationships and cultural enrichment among students at Truett and beyond. The program recently welcomed a new director, Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins, to further enhance its work.

    * Theology, Ecology and Food Justice Program: Many know Jesus’ command to feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty. Baylor’s Theology, Ecology and Food Justice Program takes this Biblical mandate literally, examining the Church’s role in fighting hunger.

    * Preservation efforts: Three Baylor Libraries efforts exist to preserve music, sermons and life experiences that offer a look back at the Christian heritage we continue today. The Black Gospel Music Preservation Project has received the most attention for its work saving historic Black Gospel recordings; the newer Black Gospel Preachers Project is working to do the same for Black church sermons. Meanwhile, Baylor’s Institute for Oral History also has made available the oral memoirs of pastors such as W.A. Criswell and Robert Gilbert.

    * Research: In addition to specific programs and conferences, Baylor faculty across the university have found ways to serve the church through their research. One recent example: A program co-led by Drs. Devin Stahl (religion) and Sarah Schnitker (psychology) designed to equip theologians to better understand and incorporate psychological sciences as they wrestle with suffering, virtue development and aesthetics.

    This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the ways Baylor’s academic efforts serve the church — you can find plenty more here — but it certainly illustrates that “Pro Ecclesia” isn’t just a saying at Baylor; it’s a way of life.

    Sic ’em, Bears!

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