Hearn says Wake Forest remains committed to its Baptist heritage
By Kevin P. Cox
Despite initial steps taken by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to revise its relationship with Wake Forest University, Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. said Tuesday that the university remains committed to its Baptist heritage and looks forward to discussions with Baptist leaders.
"Wake Forest and the Baptist State Convention have walked a long road together, and we value the distinguished past that we share," Hearn said. "In our history together, there have been disagreements along the way, but we have continued to maintain our relationship."
The president's remarks came after a vote at the convention's meeting Tuesday that called on a vote to be taken next fall that would make changes in the fraternal relationship between Wake Forest and the convention.
The convention has had no governing ties to Wake Forest since the 1980s. The university, which is autonomous in governance, established a voluntary, fraternal relationship with the convention in 1986.
"Whatever transpires between the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and Wake Forest, the university will continue to support important programs that benefit North Carolina Baptists, such as the Poteat Scholarship program," Hearn said. Nearly two dozen North Carolina Baptist students now receive the scholarship, funded primarily by the university.
Wake Forest also provides scholarships to the children of Baptist foreign missionaries; pays half of the university's associate chaplain position which serves Baptist students; maintains the N.C. Baptist Historical Collection in the university's Z. Smith Reynolds Library; and operates the Wake Forest Office of Denominational Relations to enhance the relationship between Baptist churches and the university. The university's services to Baptists also include hosting numerous Baptist meetings and other activities each year.
"We will enter as friends in any discussions that we have with the North Carolina Baptist State Convention during the next year," Hearn added.