Walter “Buddy” Shurden was honored with a retirement dinner at Mercer University last night where he has spent nearly 25 years as a Christianity professor and department chair, as well as founding director of Mercer’s Center for Baptist Studies.
He was lauded by colleagues and former students for his contributions to the university and the larger Baptist movement. President Bill Underwood also announced an endowed scholarship in Shurden’s name for future Christianity majors.
Former Mercer president Kirby Godsey, provost Horace Fleming, theology dean Alan Culpepper and former students Gary Furr and Julie Long paid tributes.
Julie is a Mercer grad and minister of children and families at Macon’s First Baptist Church where Buddy and his wife, Kay, are active members. She poked fun at her former prof and current parishioner.
Playing off the title of Shurden’s popular 1993 book, The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms, Julie proposed “The Shurden Identity: Four Faulty Flaws.”
She charged Buddy with “excessive writing, reckless fighting, suspect teaching and intrusive preaching.”
She joked about her former professor increasing book sales by assigning several of his 15 books for one church history class. She said the only required book that did not have Shurden’s name on the spine was H. Leon McBeth’s The Baptist Heritage.
“We couldn’t figure out why he had assigned that one,” Julie said, “until we got to the part that read: ‘According to keen Baptist historian Walter Shurden…'”
Julie also emphasized Buddy’s “reckless fighting” for historic Baptist freedoms which others also addressed.
Kirby Godsey, who brought Buddy to Mercer, said: “There is no ugly like Baptist ugly, but Buddy managed to face down Baptist ugly toe to toe.”
He also said history will likely record Shurden as one of the defining figures in the historic Baptist university.
“Life would be a little easier for Buddy if he’d let a little ignorance go by,” Godsey added.