Introduction to the NABPR
The National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion is a community of teaching scholars. Most members teach at Baptist-affiliated schools, colleges, and seminaries, but members also hail from a wide range of institutions in the United States, Canada, and abroad, including church-related and state-supported schools. The history of the association is woven into the changing religious culture of the United States. From the late 1920s until 1981 there were several organizations of Baptists who were teaching scholars in different regions of the country. From their beginnings those regional organizations reflected efforts of men and women engaged in similar tasks in similar settings to find ways to sharpen teaching skills and encourage the continuation of meaningful scholarship. The immediate predecessor of the NABPR was a group of Baptist teaching scholars in the Southeast who, in 1972 founded a journal, Perspectives in Religious Studies, laying a foundation of publications that continues to identify the work of the Association.
In 1981 the NABPR was given life at a breakfast meeting at the Pacificia Hotel in San Francisco, California. Sixty persons adopted a constitution and elected the first slate of officers. They also adopted requirements for membership and the paying of annual dues, which were essential to support the projected work of the Association. From that year on, the national body and the regional bodies of the NABPR have met in conjunction with the national and regional conventions of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. During the years in which the AAR and SBL ceased to combine their meetings, the NABPR opted for independent meetings, the first of which was held at Belmont University in May, 2008. These independent meetings continue and the NABPR also meets in conjunction with the AAR and SBL.
The NABPR continues to be a strong organization. The guild is truly national, with active regions in the Southeast, Southwest, and Midwest, and with growing memberships in the West and the Northeast. In 1999 a Region at Large was formed within the Association, making it possible for members to continue cultivating scholarship and teaching beyond the traditional contexts of the AAR and SBL meetings.