Congratulations to 2021 Festschrift Honoree Helen Lee Turner
Helen Lee Turner photo via Furman University


Congratulations to 2021 Festschrift Honoree Helen Lee Turner

At the Annual Meeting on May 17, 2021 NABPR honored Helen Lee Turner of Furman University with a Festschrift.

Helen Lee Turner

Helen Lee, of course, needs no introduction to you all as she has served this organization dutifully for over two decades. But what I love about Helen Lee and what I have loved about working on this issue, is the ways that it has allowed all of us to recognize her significant contributions not only to the NABPR, but also to other various Baptist organizations and institutions, not to mention those beyond the Baptist world. Helen Lee’s husband and colleague Claude Stulting put it best, I think, when he organized his biographical essay around the Baptist themes of “community” and “the priesthood of all believers,” highlighting the circles of Baptist community that formed Helen Lee and that she has, in turn, formed and influenced. His comment near the end of his essay that Helen Lee “has always been convinced that there is another Baptist story,” provided the inspiration for the title of this volume “A Baptist Story: Essays in Honor of Helen Lee Turner.”

It was an honor to serve as the editor for this issue, and I am especially grateful for the ways it allowed me to express my gratitude to Helen Lee for the important roles she has played my life as a teacher and a wise elder, or —in Charles Kimball’s words—as my “teacher, mentor, colleague, minister, and friend.” And it is these wide-ranging contributions that I have tried to highlight through the organization of the festschrift.

The first pair of essays tell the story of Helen Lee’s life and vocation. Here we have Claude’s beautiful biographical essay and Charles Kimball’s touching tribute.

The second section honors Helen Lee’s commitment to her own Baptist tradition. Jeff Rogers’s essay explores former Furman Old Testament professor Crawford Howell Toy’s inaugural address when he moved to the faculty at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1869, and Jim Guth profiles Christian nationalism among Protestant clergy. This essay is part of a research trajectory that started with his and Helen Lee’s study of Southern Baptist clergy politics in the 1980s.

The third section honors Helen Lee’s dedication to innovative teaching. In his essay, Bryan Bibb argues for the importance of theology within religious studies, and Warren Kinghorn demonstrates the value of religious studies for health care professionals.

And, finally, the fourth section reflects Helen Lee’s appreciation for learning from “others.” Danielle Vinson explores how Hopi, Navajo, and other Native American approaches to politics—which she learned about on study trips to Indian country with Helen Lee—illuminates her own field of American politics and Sam Britt provides a rich anthropological description of the Aladura churches in Liberia.

Helen Lee, I think I speak for all of us when I say, it is an honor to know you, and I hope that the diverse slate of essays in this volume does justice to your expansive contributions to your students, your colleagues, and your religious and educational organizations! Congrats and we love you!

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