From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

Puritans on the Potomac

By Timothy George

May 2, 2016


On a late November evening in 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War, Celestia Ferris, chief washer-woman at the Bureau of Engraving, organized a prayer meeting not far from the U. S. Capitol. She was joined by a circle of earnest Christians, mostly of the Baptist persuasion, who prayed that a new church would be gathered in their community. At the time, there was no church of any denomination in the northwest quarter of Washington, D. C. In 1878, their prayer was answered when thirty-one members joined to form the Metropolitan Baptist Church, so called from Spurgeon’s famous Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, which at the time was one of the most famous Protestant churches in the world.

During the first half of the twentieth century, the church grew steadily and reached a membership high in the thousands during the 1950s. Then, plagued by erratic leadership, the church began a spiraling decline not unlike many other urban congregations at the time. By the early 1990s, attendance hovered around one hundred people, one of whom was the famous evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry. Henry suggested that the church consider as its next pastor Mark Edward Dever, a somewhat brash but brilliant American student just then completing his Ph.D. at Cambridge University. (Full disclosure: Mark Dever was once my student, and I preached at his pastoral installation in 1994).

To reverse the fortunes of a flagging downtown congregation required skill, pluck, and some sanctified grit. Dever had all of these, but he also put in place a strategy that most church growth gurus would have deplored. For example, he began to preach sermons that lasted upwards of one hour. Next, the church excised from its rolls hundreds of inactive members—some so inactive that they had long been dead! The practice of church discipline was begun. Members were also required to subscribe to a confession of faith and to say “an oath”—this is how a secular journalist described the church covenant—at the monthly communion. Entertainment-based worship was replaced by congregational singing, including many long-forgotten classic hymns from the past. Instead of driving people away, however, over time this approach to church life—to the surprise of many—attracted droves of new believers, many of them millennials and young professionals. Today, the average age of members at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (as Metropolitan is now known) is thirty-one, and the place is bursting at the seams, with standing room only on Sunday mornings. Read the rest at First Things.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Monday, May 2, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: Rome’s Trevi fountain to turn red for new Christian martyrs

By Catholic News Agency

April 20, 2016


On April 29, the Trevi Fountain, one of the most popular and emblematic tourist spots in Rome, will be dyed red in recognition of all Christians who even today give their life for the faith.

The event is being organized by Aid to the Church in Need and seeks to “call attention to the drama of anti-Christian persecution.”

In a statement posted on their website, the aid group said they hope this initiative will be “the start of a long lasting, concrete reaction everywhere so that the persecuted people of the 21st century can as soon as possible return to fully enjoying their natural right to religious freedom.”

The organizers added that “the systematic violation of the right to religious freedom, especially that of Christians, must become the central issue of the public debate.” Read the rest at Crux.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, April 29, 2016
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Spring 2016 Student Awards Recipients

During the April 26 chapel service at Beeson Divinity School, five graduating students received awards recognizing their outstanding achievement and excellence in their various fields of study. These students are:

Myles Hixson, James Earl Massey Student Preacher Award
Wyatt Harris, History and Doctrine Award
Simon Knighten, Pastoral Ministry Award
Stephen Payne, William M. Todd Award for Biblical Languages
Hunter Van Wagenen, Most Distinguished Student Award

Also during this service, the Mathews-Thielman Scholarship Award was given to Cecelia Chang, a rising second-year student whose Christian character is exemplary and who has shown strong acumen in biblical studies.  

Dean Timothy George (left), Myles Hixson (center), and James Earl Massey (right)

Wyatt Harris receiving his award from Dr. Piotr Malysz

Simon Knighten receiving his award from Dr. Mark Searby

Stephen Payne receiving his award from Dr. Mark Gignilliat

Hunter Van Wagenen pictured here with his fiancee. He was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

Cecilia Chang receiving her scholarship award from Dr. Grant Taylor

Watch each student receive his or her award and hear the faculty's remarks below.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, April 29, 2016
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