NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A professor’s passion for preserving Baptist history and heritage was recognized Feb. 19 with the naming of the Albert W. Wardin Jr. Research Room at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Historical Library and Archives.
The announcement was made by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the SBC Council of Seminary Presidents, during the closing session of the SBC Executive Committee’s Feb. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
“Thank you so much for the tribute,” Wardin, professor emeritus of history at Belmont University and the 1995 president of the Baptist History and Heritage Society (former Southern Baptist Historical Society), responded.
When he came to the Baptist-affiliated college in Nashville 35 years ago, Wardin recounted, “I fell in love with the Southern Baptist Historical Library right from the beginning, and I have tried to work with it over the years, trying to find all types and kinds of Baptist materials.
“I wanted the Southern Baptist Historical Library to be the premier Baptist library in the nation and in the world,” Wardin said, and “I think we are right on track.”
The materials have included the recent addition of a collection of Primitive Baptist materials and, earlier, materials representing groups as diverse as Southern Baptists, African American Baptists and Eastern European Baptists.
Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., described Wardin, 73, as a “very significant individual who has made a real difference in preserving and maintaining our Baptist history and heritage.”
“For more than half a century, he has committed himself to the study of and the preservation of our Baptist heritage,” Mohler said. “He has been a friend to the [former SBC] Historical Commission and now to the SBC Historical Library and Archives.
“And, over the last couple of years, he has given us tremendous leadership; he’s made many gifts to this library in years past, but none has surpassed what he helped us to do this past year in identifying and securing what is now known as the Tolley Primitive Baptist Collection,” Mohler said.
The collection by S.A. Tolley of Atwood, Tenn., arrived in 250 boxes at the library and archives in the SBC Building in Nashville, encompassing more than 11,000 associational annuals, 14,000 periodicals and 1,500 books and pamphlets from across the United States, some dating back to the 1700s — “making the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives a major collection research center for Primitive Baptist material,” Mohler said.
It is “a tremendous resource that is unique in understanding not only the Primitive Baptist heritage, but the larger Baptist heritage,” Mohler said. “Dr. Albert Wardin not only put his heart into this project, but he himself contributed $40,000 toward the ability of the Library and Archives to secure these materials.”
Tolley, a Primitive Baptist minister and, since 1967, editor of the Christian Baptist, is a longtime collector of historical materials related to Primitive Baptists and other Baptist groups.
In the naming of the Albert W. Wardin Jr. Research Room at the Historical Library and Archives, Mohler said researchers “in years to come will be reminded of his encouragement and contributions to this collection and Baptist history.”
Wardin, who retired from Belmont in 1995, is the editor or author of numerous books, including “Baptists Around the World: A Comprehensive Handbook,” 1995; “Baptist Atlas,” 1980; “Evangelical Sectarianism in Russia and the USSR: A Bibliographic Guide,” 1995; “Tennessee Baptists: A Comprehensive History, 1779-1999,” 1999; and “Baptists in Oregon,” 1969.
Reflecting Wardin’s personal Baptist heritage, two of his grandparents came from Baptist families who migrated to the United States from East Prussia in Germany and the Ukraine, and one of his great-great-great uncles, Gottfried Alf, was the founder of Baptist work in Poland and the first German Baptist minister in the Russian Empire.
A native of Portland, Ore., Wardin earned a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1967, a bachelor of divinity degree from Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Portland, in 1954 and a master of arts from Stanford University in California in 1951 after finishing his undergraduate studies at Willamette University, Salem, Ore., in 1950.
Before joining Belmont’s faculty, Wardin had taught at the former Judson Baptist College in Portland; Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary and Salem College and Academy in Oregon. He also was pastor of Southwood Park Baptist Church, Portland, from 1957-61.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PROF HONORED and ALBERT W. WARDIN JR.