News Articles

Draper, at LifeWay’s 110-year mark, reminds, ‘We weren’t first ones here’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Employees of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention marked the agency’s 100th anniversary May 18 with a chapel service that also celebrated anniversaries of more than 200 employees who reach career milestones ranging from five to 40 years of service in 2001.

James L. Sullivan, 91, president of the agency — then known as the Sunday School Board — from 1953 until his retirement in 1975, was recognized among retirees who returned for the event. James T. Draper Jr. presented Sullivan an author’s copy of “Your Life & Your Church,” a commemorative edition of a volume written by Sullivan and first published in 1955. LifeWay revised the book, designed to help new church members understand how churches and the denomination function, for release this year with updated denominational and church organizational titles.

Draper encouraged employees “to reflect on the fact that we weren’t the first ones here. God sent some wonderful people before us, and we stand in their train and on their shoulders as we minister. What a great time to have the opportunity to minister the Word of God. That is our privilege.”

Among employees with milestone service anniversaries in 2001, the longest tenured is Georgia Durham of the information systems department, celebrating 40 years with the agency. In addition to Nashville-based employees, representative employees from LifeWay Christian Stores and LifeWay Conference Centers attended the service.

Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., preached the anniversary message, saying that when he thinks of LifeWay he thinks of Psalm 68:11, “The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that published it.”

Comparing the Word of God to a sword, he said, “The spiritual sword is sharper than the physical sword. The physical sword stabs living people and makes them dead; the spiritual sword stabs dead people and makes them live.”

Vines said in more than 40 years of preaching he has not known any book that changes lives as powerfully as the Bible.

“The physical sword cuts on the outside, but the spiritual sword cuts on the inside,” he continued. “The Bible has penetrating power. We use it on lost people; we use it on ourselves.”

Vines said the Bible examines lives and explores the intents of people’s hearts.

“The sword of the Spirit brings us face to face with the God who knows all about us.”

Founded in 1891 as the Sunday School Board by the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay is among the world’s largest publishers and providers of Christian resources.

The agency was begun with $5,000 borrowed from Nannie Frost, wife of its first chief executive, J.M. Frost, and has never received Cooperative Program funds. Today, LifeWay supports and carries out 10 ministry assignments from the Southern Baptist Convention and contributes financial support to the SBC and to state Baptist conventions.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library ay http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: JERRY VINES, DRAPER SULLIVAN and GEORGIA DURHAM.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis