CBHS Heritage Fellows

The Heritage Fellows program is designed to give students a better understanding and appreciation of Baptist heritage and of the relationship between Baptist heritage and the contemporary scene in Baptist life.

As history comes alive before your eyes, you will be given the opportunity to learn from the top leaders in Virginia Baptist life.

Don't miss this incredible opportunity open to junior and sophomore Virginia Baptist College students. Inquire today for the upcoming academic year and take your place among the leaders of tomorrow!

Request an application to be e-mailed or sent by U.S. Mail.  Send request to fred.anderson@bgav.org

Baptist Center’s Heritage Fellows provide hope for tomorrow



Sometimes in Baptist life we ask the question, “Who will lead Baptists tomorrow?”  It is the question driving the Heritage Fellows program of the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies.

The Heritage Fellows program was created to provide college sophomores and juniors with opportunities to learn about Baptist heritage, to meet outstanding Baptist leaders and to contribute to Baptist thought on a particular Baptist principle.

The process begins with each applicant completing an application of general information (name, address, school, major, etc.) but also answering questions like, “What would be lost if there were no Baptists?” or “What is the most important Baptist principle to you?” Once the applications are received, a selection committee reads and considers each one, and selects the Heritage Fellows for the new year.

Heritage Fellows attend a workshop in May where they meet Baptist historians, tour the Virginia Baptist Historical Society and talk with current Baptist leaders. During the retreat, the Fellows are introduced to the research topic and provide input as to the best approach for conducting the research. To help understand more about the topic, the Fellows meet with professionals serving in that area of Baptist life. By the end of the workshop, the Fellows are given their assignments and are on their own to research the topic.

Across the years, the Heritage Fellows have examined the following topics:  Social Ministry; Missions Delivery; Baptist Polity or Church Governance; Christian Stewardship; Worship Styles; Partnership Missions; Compassionate Ministries; and Ethnic Diversity.  Their papers have been published in booklets.  The 2012 Heritage Fellows interviewed Baptists who have been engaged in "partnership missions" around the world and the results of their interviews was included in a new book on the history of partnership missions among Virginia Baptists.  The Heritage Fellow for 2012-13 transcribed Civil War period sermons which have been published in a new book entitled Powerful Preachers available through the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.  The class of 2013-14 interviewed persons who have started new churches and gathered information on what is involved in new church starts.  Their papers have been published in the current journal of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.  The present class of 2014-15 consists of one Fellow who is working on the history, present and possible futures of Baptist campus ministry in Virginia. 

Heritage Fellows are awarded stipends of $3,000.  They are recognized as members of the emerging generation to lead Baptists.  And in the process they make their own contribution to understanding Baptist heritage and identity.

Heritage Fellows need to be Baptists in Virginia, students at a college or university in Virginia with an active Baptist collegiate ministry sponsored by the Baptist General Association of Virginia, active in a faith community, and exceptional students who are making a 3.0 grade average.  They must be college sophomores or juniors for the academic term in which they will serve; therefore, a freshman may apply as long as he or she will be a sophomore in the new academic year beginning in the fall and a sophomore can apply for their sophomore or junior year.  Heritage Fellows may be considered for a second year of appointment.

Since the program began, some 25 Heritage Fellows have been appointed from the following colleges and universities in Virginia:  University of Richmond, Bluefield College, University of Virginia, Longwood University, College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, Lynchburg College, University of Mary Washington and Radford University.  Ask your Baptist collegiate minister for further information or contact Fred Anderson at the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies at the University of Richmond (804)289-8434.

Each year the research papers of the Heritage Fellows are published. Past publications are Walking Together: The Struggles of Baptists with Polity in the 21st Century, It’s All About Missions!, and Worship!. Each resource also contains writings by current scholars or leaders in that particular area of Baptist life and serves as a resource for the local congregation on current Baptist thought.

A past Fellow, Karen Vassar Brown, states, “The Baptist Heritage Fellows program is an extraordinary scholarship opportunity that enables students to learn about and do professional research on Baptist beginnings and contemporary issues. The best experience about the program was gaining a better understanding of the struggles that leaders went through which serve as an example to inspire me and guide my own missionary journey. The program instilled in me a new sense of pride for being a Baptist and a great deal of respect for my heritage.” Vassar was a Fellow in the 2005-06 class which looked at missions.

Heritage Fellows represent the future of Baptist leaders and the Center takes the opportunity to educate these leaders seriously. The intense three-day workshop and research assignment are designed to introduce the Fellows to the basic tenets of Baptist life and to begin to unite Baptists around those beliefs.

In the words of another Fellow, Kelly Thompson, “The Heritage Fellows program has been a wonderful blessing to me in so many ways. My project on stewardship has come at a time in my life when I need it most. I have found kindness and selflessness within each person that I have met through this project, and I look forward to being able to instill such values of stewardship in my own family one day.”

Prospective Fellows must be students actively engaged in a Baptist church and in religious life on their campus, academically strong and a sophomore or junior in a Virginia college or university during the year of their appointment. Request an application by contacting Fred Anderson, executive director of the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies, at fred.anderson@bgav.org or telephone 804-289-8434 and give your name and e-mail address to receive an application. The deadline for the 2016-17 class is March 15.  Each Fellow is awarded a stipend of $3,000.

The Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies was established in 2000 following an agreement between the Baptist General Association of Virginia, the University of Richmond and the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. The Center seeks to champion Baptist distinctives, history and heritage through convocations, seminars, publications, an essay contest and the Heritage Fellows program.


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