Treasures in history and books

By Keith Bassham

M. L. and Marjorie Ellis, former members of Canton Baptist Temple, had transferred to the Tulsa area and attended my Sunday school class at Eastland Baptist Church when I was there about 20 years ago. One weekend, Eastland had Harold Henniger and Earl Smith in for worship services. Henniger had just retired from the pulpit of Canton Baptist Temple. The Ellises, of course, hosted their former pastor on Sunday afternoon, and Shari and I were invited.

To listen to these veteran spiritual warriors swap their memories… tales that went back into the 1940s even… well, words escape me. The afternoon was far too short for my liking, but it is a treasure in my mind.

I hope to revive those memories a bit when I go to Canton for the BBFI Fall Fellowship meeting next month, for so much of what is great about our Fellowship is wrapped up in that church. Canton Baptist Temple was planted by Dallas Billington of the Akron Baptist Temple in 1938. To get the church started, he would drive over Sundays after the Akron services to hold afternoon services in Canton. In 1947, the pulpit was vacant, and Billington recommended one of his own preacher boys, Harold Henniger, a young man who had been saved and discipled in the Akron church. Henniger was finishing his training in Fort Worth, and he had worked on the staff of First Baptist Church there. The church became a powerhouse over the next 40 years, and Pastor Henniger was a model for hundreds of Fellowship ministers.

Evangelism. Discipleship. Church planting. Education. Missions. Leadership. May God grant that we use this meeting to reacquaint ourselves with the great traditions of our Fellowship. When we do that we will not merely enshrine the past as a monument, but we will honor that past by embracing and embodying again those characteristics of great churches around the world.

Speaking of the past, I cannot remember when I had so many books on my desk authored by people associated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship. Every other week or so these past few months I have received notices or review copies of books produced by people in our Fellowship. I am glad of this, and I want Tribune readers to be aware of these resources. Some book or author just might touch on a need.

First, you have seen the excerpts we have published in the Tribune this year. I’ll not mention those now. But here are some others you may want to check out. Waiting Patiently for the Lord – A Study of Psalm 40 by Tina Modrell. Tina is originally from Florence Baptist Temple, Florence, South Carolina. Her husband, Charles, is pastor of a church in Laurinburg, North Carolina, and Tina’s book is a spiral-bound volume designed as a Bible study for personal or group use. You can order the book from

The Revivals in the Bible by Vernon C. Lyons. Pastor Lyons has served Chicago’s Ashburn Baptist Church since 1951. The work will surely meet a demand for a study of this important subject. His theme is simple: “The Revivals in the Bible are not mere history, but God’s inspired instructions for His work in our time.” See the ad in this issue for ordering information.

From Jerusalem to You by Jeff Williams. Jeff is a BBFI missionary to Russia. His book, which he says is written in the tradition of The Trail of Blood, traces a distinct group of non-comforming, independent Christians known as the Cathari from about 250 A.D. Some of the material I had not seen before. Unfortunately, there are some editing and publishing details that detract from the value overall, and the bibliography is a little confusing. However, I applaud our preachers when they write serious books on important matters rather than collections of sermons. Order the book from

The Quest for the Great Stones by G. M. Matheny. Garry is another missionary whose archeology and history sleuthing has resulted in a book that reminds me of a Dan Brown novel — except Garry’s story is true. I won’t be a spoiler, but I will say that his story of a search for the “great stones” buried by Jeremiah has a lot of twists and turns. If you love museums, mysteries, history, and armchair archeology, this book is for you. I could hardly put it down. Order from

Rowdy Raccoon and the Turtle Who Wanted to Fly by Donna Braymer. Rowdy is back and better than ever. Donna’s children’s book is such a wellkept secret, and I can’t figure why. Her stories are imaginative, and the artwork in this new book is way over the top. The character studies she has authored from the series have opened doors of ministry in public schools. Order from or from Be sure to see the Walking Through the Valleys of Life ad in this issue. We have mentioned this work by Jerry Beaver in a previous column.

One last item, BBFI missionary Jimmy Strickland was taken by the Lord just as we were going to press. We will publish a memorial in the next issue.