Churches in cooperative transition: Integration of Southern Baptist Sunday Schools

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Paul Ilsley


Adult education ministries

Subject Categories



Facilitating racial and cultural integration for church growth purposes is a learning experience. The learning is cognitive, affective and active. It is cognitive because one culture must gain new knowledge and understanding of what is important to another culture for genuine integration to take place. It is affective because one culture must come to appreciate another culture's way of ordering their lives. It is active because new skills will be needed to perpetuate better racial and cultural relations. This learning style is adult education and the center of Southern Baptist ideology and organization is its adult education ministry programs (Appendix D, Tables 2-5). Progress made, changes instigated, and dreams realized begin and end for Southern Baptist in adult education. Unlike many religious denominations who are pedagogical in their approach to religious education, Southern Baptists are renowned in the religious sector for their focus on the education of adults. As the largest protestant denomination in the world there is no other religious group that supports adult education as extensively as Southern Baptist (Appendix D, Table 1).

The inclusion and exclusion forces in adult education ministries of Southern Baptist churches make understanding racial and cultural integration a learning experience. The compromises that take place for integration that are not pathological are the focus of this study. The total absorption of one culture into another is pathological where identity is concerned. Racial and cultural integration that requires total absorption of one people into another is unhealthy.

This document is about how people from racially and culturally diverse settings integrated their churches on a voluntary basis using adult education methods. The research tells the story from their perspective. The researcher looked at Southern Baptist churches who decided that they wanted to be multiracial in spite of the homogeneous factors that go against this type of church growth (Wagner, 1979). The research shares what they saw as important as well as how they accomplished healthy integration where so many other Southern Baptist churches in particular and other churches in general have failed.


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