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A Man Sent from God: the life and ministry of John T. Hamilton 1916-1999

by Brian R. Talbot

Brian Talbot’s biography of Baptist minister Rev J T Hamilton is a personal tribute to a successful pastor in his service as RAF chaplain and in a variety of churches in UK in the critical period of 1951 to 1994. The author, currently a pastor in a Scottish church and prominent member of the BWA Heritage and Identity Commission, witnessed the subject’s pastoral ministry in his last two charges and in his retirement and gives a moving description of their final contact only hours before Hamilton's death. The appendix contains notes for the sermons Hamilton had prepared for the services he had been scheduled to conduct two days following his death.


This personal link between author and subject accounts in part for the decision to write the biography of a man who was not known widely as a public speaker or denominational leader. What marks out the subject as worthy of full length biography is that he saw his calling as serving local churches, particularly those needing special help.


Hamilton was also a man with a mixed denominational background, and one who sensed the call to ministry at the very early age of sixteen when he began his training at the South Wales Bible Training Institute, Porth. He was the last student to be accepted by the founding principal of that institution, Rev R B Jones, who was notable because of his connection with the Welsh revival. After some pastoral work, Hamilton's training took him to Spurgeon's college London where he was part of a distinguished group of students.


Valuable experiences were gained during seven years as a RAF padre during and after World War II which helped in large measure to make his deep piety and careful pastoral training accessible to a wide range of types of people. These attributes were well used during his pastoral ministry at five different churches until his retirement in 1994 at the age of 78 years. In all this Hamilton was well supported by his wife, but by her request, the author mainly focuses on the husband's life.


This is an instructive book first for the valuable record of a pastor’s life coping with run down churches and difficult people in changing social conditions. As such, it could well be used as a case study in ministerial courses. It also provides detailed information about the various movements and contexts in which its subject was involved including Bible colleges, military chaplaincy, the histories of the various churches and locations of his service and the cultural shifts of the late twentieth century in north west England and their impact on the church and its mission.


All of this information is presented in helpful detail with full documentation revealing the extent of research needed to accomplish the task. It requires careful reading, but to absorb the wealth of information provided is a worthwhile task. While this book refers to a particular life and the specific circumstances he faced, it reveals its subject as a gifted and inspiring figure and its author as a meticulous scholar who has given us a worthy record of good pastor and his times.


It is published by Regent’s Park College’s Centre for Baptist History and Heritage of which the author is a Fellow   (click here).

ISBN 978-1-907600-06-7 Paper 236 pp


Biography of Former BWA President and Heritage Commission Member Published

A biography of Dr Noel Vose, BWA President 1985-90 and a long standing member of the Heritage and Identity Commission is now the subject of a large biography. The author is Dr Richard Moore, formerly on the faculty of Vose Seminary, Perth Western Australia which Vose founded and lead for many years. The 432 page book is published by the Baptist Historical Society of WA.

For more details and ordering information, go to

For more on a BWA tribute to Dr Vose, go to


 Changing Culture Impacts Revivalism

Baptist Historian, Bill Leonard, Wake Forest University Divinity School, writes in the summer/fall 2010 issue of the journal Baptist History and Heritage about how changing culture in the USA has impacted revivalism.

For a report on his article, visit


Morden CH

    Spurgeon cover

New Spurgeon Biography

Heritage Commission member, Dr Peter Morden of Spurgeon's College has published a lavish and well illustrated book on the famous C H Spurgeon.

It is reviewed here by Pete Dibdin, ministerial student at Spurgeon's College

Charles Haddon Spurgeon has the reputation of being the 'Prince of Preachers', and rightly so, considering that every week thousands of people flocked to the world's largest church to hear Spurgeon preach the gospel. Yet Spurgeon was more than a preacher. Behind his celebrity status we find the beating heart of a local pastor. In this new biography, Peter Morden narrates the story of Spurgeon, exploring how Spurgeon's personal life shaped his preaching and his wider ministry. Based on thorough research and working mostly from primary sources, the book paints a picture of Spurgeon as a hard working and deeply spiritual man, whose life was marked by both great joy and personal suffering. The book seeks to show how his achievements - his preaching, his books, the formation of a college to train pastors, the planting of many churches, and the founding of orphanages to care for the poorest children - flow from his character and devotion to God.

Peter Morden's writing will be easily accessible for a wide audience, and the book is illustrated throughout with original photographs and stills from the drama documentary film of the same name. The stories of Spurgeon's adventures are engaging, and each chapter ends with a reflection on what the story means for us today. Personally, I found the honest portrayal of the character of Spurgeon most inspiring, discovering a real man with whom we can identify and his Saviour, in whom we can trust.

Peter Morden, C. H. Spurgeon: the people's preacher (CWR, 2009). ISBN: 978-1853454974. RRP £9.99. 176 pages.

Note: Dr Morden PhD research on Spurgeon has also been published by Regents Park College, Oxford, UK. Details will be available here soon.


 New Leadership for Heritage and Identity Commission

The chair of the Heritage and Identity Commission for 2010-2015 is Dr Craig Sherouse, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Richmond, VA. Craig is a native of Florida and graduated from Stetson University (B.A.) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. and Ph.D.). His graduate fields of study were Christian Ethics and Baptist Studies - his doctoral dissertation was on "The Social Teachings of the BWA 1905-1980." The Deputy Chair is Dr Cawley Bolt who is president of the Jamaica Baptist Union.



Veteran Author Brings Virginia’s African American History to Life

July 30, 2010 – Watch Virginia’s history come to life before your very eyes! In the hands of a skilled writer, historical facts can be woven into a stirring story of inspiration. Parson Place Press is pleased to announce the publication of From Slave to Governor: the Unlikely Life of Lott Cary. This 228-page soft-cover book will both inspire and encourage you with Lott Cary’s life story of faith and triumph over slavery, hardship, and conflict, both in Virginia and in the struggling American settlement in West Africa which became the free nation of Liberia. You simply have to read it to believe it! Your heart will be touched as you read this moving story about Lott Cary and all of his life’s accomplishments. You will also learn little-known aspects of history, geography, cross-cultural relationships, and religious and spiritual understanding. This truly is a Christian classic in the making.

Since 1995 the author (Perry Thomas) and his wife have lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, but before that they spent thirty years in Indonesia. Bringing up two sons in a place so distant from their homeland gave them special insight into what Lott Cary had to face nearly two centuries ago, when he took his wife and children to the continent of his ancestors. Perry Thomas has written more than sixty books under various names, including Good News from Indonesia: Heartwarming Stories from the Land of the Tsunami (Parson Place Press, 2008) and Exploring Church History: 20 Centuries of Christ’s People (World/Nelson, 2005), as well as numerous articles for various Christian publications. Learn more about Perry Thomas and his writings from his web site at Email:
To obtain copies of From Slave to Governor, simply order from such popular retailers as Amazon and Barnes and Noble by searching on the book's ISBN: 978-0-9786567-9-9.

See also


Commission Papers for Publication 

Former Commission Chair, Dr Karen Bullock, has also announced that four papers delivered at HIC sessions in the last five years have been selected for publication in the 4th edition of the BWA Study and Research Commission book that will be released this year at the Hawaii Congress. The chapter on HIC work will feature the papers of Denorah Mendez (from Mexico City, 2006), Cawley Bolt (from Accra, 2007), and Ron Edmonds and Kirsten Timmer (both from Ede, 2009).


  Exploring Baptist Origins to Understand the Present



A Review by Rev Dr David Parker, Baptist Heritage Qld/Baptist Church Archives Qld


Brisbane, Australia


Exploring Baptist Origins provides excellent food for thought on some of the key issues relating to Baptist life today. It contains a series of lectures given at Regent's Park College, Oxford, England in 2009 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Baptist movement. The authors, all well-known British scholars, discuss important and interesting topics beginning with the earliest days of the movement around 1609 and extending over a considerable period of time. The themes include the significance of the original decision to adopt believers' baptism in relation to the formation of the church; whether the early Baptists thought of themselves as a 'sect' or as part of the broader church and society; how they coped with the very difficult periods in English history under King James and then later at the time of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of the monarchy; how they justified their radical views of the nature of the church from the Bible and theology; the impact of changing attitudes and convictions about eschatology; and church leadership, spirituality and the role of women in ministry.

Some lectures deal with familiar subjects such as the founding of the movement under the leadership of John Smyth and Thomas Helwys but in new depth, while others bring to light some relatively unknown topics such as two petitions submitted to the English parliament in the early 1660s just before non-conformists were to suffer harsh measures restricting their worship. One of several perennial topics covered is whether it is possible to remain faithful to the calling of Christ by 'just reading the Bible' as if it were an unambiguous handbook of spiritual knowledge, or whether other factors are needed sustain a dynamic Christian witness. The final paper, which was actually the first in the series, covers an extended period of history giving a provocative overview of several issues using the narrative of a Lithuanian Baptist family over three generations as a framework.

The 155 page book, which includes several valuable illustrations and some previously unpublished documents, is informative and generally easily accessible to the thoughtful reader, with some of the less familiar material providing good stimulus for further research. With its seven compact chapters, it would make a good basis for serious church study groups, especially if a set of questions and outline of contents could be added as a study guide. Whether used privately, in a class room or a study group, this book which deals with Baptist origins will inevitably encourage reflection on increasingly important contemporary issues such as the significance of baptism and the nature of the church, eschatology, spirituality and the authority and role of the Bible, the nature of the ministry, and the role of women. Other vital topics covered Baptists and their relations with the state, community and other churches, and their convictions about religious freedom.

Exploring Baptist Origins, edited by Anthony Cross and Nicholas Wood, is the first in a new series of volumes in the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies series available only from Regent's Park College at

 BWA History cover

 Baptists Together in Christ 1905-2005

A history of the The Baptist World Alliance, edited by Richard V. Pierard of the Baptist Heritage and Identity Commission, was launched at BWA's Centenary Congress held in Birmingham, UK, July 27-31. The 350 page book, with several pages of illustrations and tables, is titled "Baptists Together in Christ 1905-2005". It contains 10 authoritative chapters written by an international team, and is highly readable and fully documented. The Foreword is by Billy Graham and the BWA General Secretary, Dr Denton Lotz contributes an Afterword with a vision for the future and current challenges. Co-edited by Dr EJ Bentley (whose vision and energy contributed significantly to the success of the project) and Dr GL Borchert, the panel of authors include HO Russell, JHY Briggs, RS Wilson, E Geldbach, JL Garrett, Ian Randall, AW Wardin and KR Manley, amongst others.

Click here for a review

This Centenary history has been endorsed by a wide range of people from Jimmy Carter, Billy Kim and Knud Wumppelmann to Rick Warren, Keith Clements, David Coffey and Osadolor Imasogie.

The book was published by Samford University.


For information on sales, contact the Baptist World Alliance


Baptist Together in Christ
The story of the100 year history of the Baptist World Alliance, is now available.
Price: $15 or £8.


Mailing address
Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
fax: 703-893-5160 or





 Baptists Together in Christ 1905-2005 A Hundred-Year History of the Baptist World Alliance




Edited by Richard V. Pierard


(Falls Church, Virginia: BWA, 2005)


ISBN 1-931985-13-8


Pb pp 358 Index Bibliog


Reviewed by David Parker


Baptists Together in Christ is a scholarly history of the BWA covering 1905 to 2005, the voluntary association national Baptist unions and conventions around the world, embracing over 100 million people. The book was launched at the Centenary Congress held in Birmingham, UK in July 2005.

It consists of ten chapters telling the story in chronological sequence from the pre-history prior to 1905 up to 2005. The authors are drawn from North America, UK, Europe and Australia, with overall editing by well-known Baptist historian, Richard V. Pierard and two associate editors, Dr Gerald Borchert, and especially Dr Eljee Bentley whose energy and drive was a crucial factor in bringin the project to frution. The Foreword is by Billy Graham (a featured speaker at most of the recent BWA world congresses) and the Afterword by the current General Secretary, Dr Denton Lotz. The fully indexed and documented text is supported by a large number of photographs of Baptist life around the world, several lists of BWA officials, staff and conferences, and an annotated bibliography. An additional feature is a series of boxes and photographs providing cameos of presidents and other leading figures in the movement such as John Clifford, G.W. Truett and Nilson Fanini.

Although the Baptist movement is now approaching its 400th anniversary, and for much of that time the "fellowship of kindred minds" even on a global basis has been positive, as this book shows, global organisation has come rather late. Even now, with more well over 200 unions or conventions in membership, and others joining all the time, as a voluntary movement, the BWA still does not embrace all Baptists - the most notable group now not in membership is the large Southern Baptist Convention which withdrew in the 100th year over ideological differences.

As a denomination made up of independent churches and unions, and without a central hierarchy, the issue of interest to scholars and church people is whether such a global organisation was proper, necessary, or important, and even granted a positive answer, whether it could in fact be achieved.

The saga unfolded in these pages shows how the able and dedicated leadership of some outstanding people such as Clifford, Shakespeare, Prestridge and many others, built on the groundswell of the grass roots support, and was able to overcome all kinds of obstacles. It managed to deal with the effects of two world wars and other decisive conflicts in which substantial numbers of Baptists were on both sides of the lines of hostilities. In due course, there emerged an organisation that is neither exclusively church or para-church, but one that effectively harnesses it members around the world for evangelism, mission, theological education, and ministry with youth, women and men. Its greatest achievements over a substantial period of its life have undoubtedly been in the area of advocacy for justice and religious freedom and latterly, aid and relief. Holistic mission of this kind is appropriately flagged by Lotz (along with evangelism and nurture) as key ministries for the future.

For much of its history, the truly global character of the BWA was dream, dominated as it was by European and North American interests. But as time progressed, it has become more internationalised in its personnel and interests, and more regionalised in its programs. Perhaps more importantly it has become a voice for many in diverse parts of the world who desperately need it, especially in relation to the vision and comprehensive range of values it has embodied and expressed.

Much of the narrative of a book like this necessarily involves details of organisation and programs, yet the authors have also succeeded in presenting the dynamic which has driven the movement and the varied personalities that have led it. In particular the content of speeches, papers and reports have been effectively summarised, so that interested readers are able to interact with the substance of global Baptist thinking, which gives a feel for the developments that have been documented.

There are plenty of issues facing Baptists around the world and as a global body, many of which are listed in Lotz's thoughtful Afterword, including social justice, the nature of church and ministry, and ways of effective evangelism. This volume indicates that the BWA is likely to make a significant contribution on these topics, as it has in the past. But perhaps the more substantial question revolves around the role of a global church body in a post-denominational age.


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