For the first time in the storied history of Williams Baptist University, a sitting president of the Southern Baptist Convention visited campus Wednesday as Northeast Arkansas native Dr. Bart Barber delivered the university’s weekly chapel sermon.
Barber, who grew up in Lake City, Ark., was elected president of the SBC in June. He spoke to a capacity crowd of students, faculty and staff in WBU’s Manley Chapel.
In his chapel address, Barber noted that while some Williams students will serve on church staffs, most are simply “called to be church members.” The SBC president spoke from Matthew 18:15-20 and encouraged students to learn to be peacemakers in their churches, whatever their role in the congregation.
Barber noted that Jesus encouraged his followers to talk privately with someone when they have a problem with them, rather than complaining to others about it.
“If someone does something you see that’s wrong, talk to them about it,” Barber said. “You don’t need to text 15 other people first to tell them. Do you want to win the argument, or do you want to win your fellow church member? Be someone who has the courage to go talk to someone directly.”
Barber went on to encourage the students to learn how to intervene and bring about peaceful resolutions to conflicts.
“Be someone who’s willing to try to help make peace between other people who are in your church,” Barber said. “That’s so important. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ It’s not about liking peace. It’s not about preferring peace. Jesus is talking about those who will actually help make peace.”
After his sermon, Barber met and spoke with several students about his message.
“It was an honor and a privilege to have Dr. Barber at Williams to deliver our weekly chapel message,” WBU President Dr. Stan Norman said. “We are thankful for his commitment and work in the Southern Baptist Convention and all the work he has done for Williams Baptist University in his current role. We look forward to working with him and hope to have him back on campus soon for another opportunity to interact with our students.”
WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge, Ark.