Baptist research produces personal and denominational impact

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – When one thinks about the modern missions movement, names like Andrew Fuller and William Carey are the first to surface. However, one would not likely think of Samuel Pearce, the 18th century English Baptist who served as a catalyst for the movement.

Adam Covington, an M.A. in Missiology student at Southwestern and son of Southern Baptist missionaries, found himself consumed with Pearce’s life and theology while researching this iconic Baptist for a paper in his Baptist Heritage class.

“The paper was about the person Samuel Pearce and the fact that he’s one among many of these great guys who started the modern missions movement in England, but he’s often overlooked,” says Covington. Pearce, a close friend of Fuller and Carey, had a passion for missions, prompting him to be a chief fundraiser for the Baptist Missionary Society. Pearce also kept close correspondence with missionaries to encourage them and share their stories with his congregation.

“When I started to read more about him, I really got sucked into what his life was consumed with, which was stirring others up to be more godly and to practice godliness everyday, and that was really the thrust of his life.” Reading about Pearce challenged Covington in his own personal walk with the Lord.

Along with four other students, Covington was selected to present his biographical essay on Pearce for Southwestern’s second annual Baptist Theology Research Award Student Symposium, a venue for master’s-level students to present their research papers to peers and Southwestern’s BaptistTheology.org editorial board.

Through his research, Covington discovered the power of studying the lives of Christians from previous generations. “Samuel Pearce was all about giving God the glory, submitting his will and every part of his life to God,” Covington said, adding, “I think those are things worth modeling your own life after. The goal of reading Christian biography is to recognize biblical characteristics in others’ lives that you can model your life after.”

After all presentations at the symposium were given, the editorial board deliberated and selected Covington’s paper as the research award winner. As winner, he received a LifeWay gift card and will have his paper published on BaptistTheology.org.

Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Humble, Texas, provided LifeWay gift cards to award presenters, with a $500 card going to the winner and $300 cards going to the remaining participants. “It’s a blessing to the students involved that this church in Houston would give money for this cause,” said Covington. “It proves that this is for the benefit of the local church. It’s their way of giving to students who will give back to the local church.”

Jason Lee, assistant dean for theological studies at Southwestern and member of the BaptistTheology.org editorial board, encouraged the five presenters at the end of the symposium, saying, “We’ve seen real promise in what you’ve done: everything from an interest in how what you’re doing research-wise affects our churches, which is what BaptistTheology.org is all about, as well as furthering the cause of Scripture in theology and research. … We saw that intertwined in your work at various places, so we very much appreciate that.”

Other papers presented were: “Perseverance Doctrine – Embedded in the Pelagian Controversy” by James E. Majors, “Living in the Lion’s Mouth: Hubmaier’s Balanced Approach to Trinitarian Election” by Cory D. Davis, “The British East India Company and Missions” by Jonathan Norvell, and “A Free Church Response to the Theory of Doctrinal Development Proposed by John Henry Cardinal Newman” by Preston Lee Atwood.

BaptistTheology.org aims to serve local churches by addressing critical issues through White Papers and offering rare historical Baptist resources. It has also become a platform for the Southwestern Journal of Theology.

Established 1908 Fort Worth, Texas