A session in honor of Duke McCall, president of the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) from 1980-1985, was held during the BWA Annual Gathering in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, from July 1-6.
A resolution passed by the General Council, which convened during the Gathering, commends “McCall as an instructive model for denominational service and leadership as a Baptist educator.”
At the session in McCall’s honor, BWA President John Upton spoke of his personal experience of McCall’s humility and kindness while he was a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), where McCall was president from 1951-1982.
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam also spoke about the insights he had gained into the character of McCall as he researched BWA literature. He spoke of the humanity of a man who conveyed deep self confidence that did nothing to conceal his own sense of personal vulnerability.
Bob Garrett, Piper Professor of Missions at Dallas Baptist University in the state of Texas in the United States, used a multi-media presentation to trace the life of McCall, beginning with his birth in Meridian, Mississippi, his upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee, through his schooling at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. The presentation moved on to McCall’s early days at SBTS where he earned a doctorate in Old Testament studies. Garrett also described McCall’s tenure as pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, his retirement, recent passing and his funeral service in Louisville.
McCall “was one of the towering figures of Baptist life… who contributed in multiple ways to his own religious body, the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA,” Garrett said. McCall registered “an astonishing chain of achievements in rapid succession” and “brokered important agreements with other denominational bodies.”
Garrett recalled McCall’s presidency of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and SBTS. McCall opened the doors of SBTS to African American and women students “in opposition to prevailing views.” Under McCall’s leadership, the SBTS facilitated the integration of black students when it was still illegal to do so under Kentucky law.
As head of the BWA, Garrett said McCall “has left a strong footprint” as “a global leader with an expansive vision of the role Baptists should play in the world.”
Garrett cited books by McCall, including God’s Hurry, which called for worldwide evangelistic outreach, and Passport to the World, written with W. A. Criswell after a globe-hopping trip at the behest of the BWA, appealing to various governments to allow American missionaries.
Present at the session was McCall’s son, attorney at law Duke McCall, Jr., who conveyed the thanks of the McCall family.
McCall died on April 2 this year. He was 98 years old.
Baptist World Alliance®
© July 14, 2013