The Manning Chapel Lectures focus on outstanding people in ministry who have massively impacted Christian society.
They are the inspiration for the stained glass windows in the chapel. This past lecture Feb. 21 was on Anne Luther Bagby and the life she devoted to missions.
A lecture will be given each semester until all four windows have been discussed.
A full conference over Baptist studies is in the plans for next fall.
The window in the chapel that is devoted to Anne Luther Bagby has details within the colorful stained glass that are not noticeable to most people. If looked at closer, an outline of Texas can be seen in memory of how Texas Baptists supported the Bagbys throughout their mission work.
Anne Luther Bagby, whose father was president of the school, and her husband, William Buck Bagby, were the first Texas Baptist missionaries to minister in Brazil in 1881 and were the longest serving Southern Baptists in history. They spent 60 years making a family and ministering to the locals.
Associate Professor of Religion at Baylor University, Dr. Rosalie Beck, was the keynote speaker for the February lecture and inspired many with her knowledge and understanding of Bagby’s life and her passion for missions.
Beck researches missionary history and has written on Bagby.
She said, “To me, Anne Luther Bagby is an inspiration and role model. Yet, she is also very human. She reminds me that God uses who we are to accomplish His divine will …. Her life encourages me to be persistent in following God’s will and to never forget that, for a believer, sharing the Gospel should be as natural as breathing.”
Beck has been interested in Bagby’s life since she did a short biographical sketch of her for the Journal of Texas Baptist History.
Beck talked of Bagby’s calling to become a missionary at age 19, the hardships she endured losing four children to various tragedies and the joy she must have had to see five of her nine remaining children become missionaries to South America.
College of Christian Studies Professor Dr. Carol Holcomb emphasized the importance of knowing Christian history.
“Knowing our past is key to knowing who we are. Knowing the stories of the people who’ve gone before us gives us meaning and definition and … purpose,” she said.
Babgy also has a personal tie to the university.
Beck said, “Annie Luther was an educated young woman from Kentucky when she and her folks arrived in Belton to work at UMHB. Committed to becoming a missionary, she wasn’t sure how that would happen because the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board did not like to appoint single women. Then she met William Buck Bagby, a Baylor University student, at a missions conference, and it was love at first sight.”
Holcomb said that not knowing about the past can negatively affect the future, whether people seek to go into missions or desire to be able to properly discuss salvation with others.
“Sometimes knowing the stories of the past can save you from making the same mistakes that missionaries before you made. It could save you years of work if you don’t try to reinvent what has already been accomplished,” she said.
Holcomb describes the positive effects of knowing what experiences missionaries go through. She thinks that the past can shed light on the present.
She said, “Otherwise we’re just not taking advantage of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us who could lead the way to doing the gospel more effectively.”