2016 Baptist Joint Committee Fellows

For information on the annual BJC Fellows Program, visit BJConline.org/Fellows

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty welcomed the second class of BJC Fellows in 2016, offering young professionals the opportunity to deepen their historical, theological and legal understanding of religious liberty and develop skills to advocate for the cause throughout their careers. 

There is no religious requirement for the program; all individuals with six years or less experience in their current profession are eligible. BJC Fellows commit to being advocates for religious liberty in their houses of worship and communities after completion of the seminar.

Watch the video and look at the sideshow below, and scroll down to read about the experiences of the 2016 BJC Fellows.

On July 27-30, 2016, ten BJC Fellows from across the country gathered in Colonial Williamsburg for an intensive seminar. BJC staff, historical interpreters and other experts led them in conversations and lessons about religious liberty. The BJC Fellows are committed to being advocates for religious liberty in the future. Click here to read more

The 2016 BJC Fellows from left:
Jenny Hodge (Chesapeake, Virginia)
Jaimie Crumley (New Haven, Connecticut)
Christopher The (Pasadena, California)
Megan Pike (Little Rock, Arkansas)
Ashton Wells (Kansas City, Missouri)
Sarah Amick (Richmond, Virginia)
John Weber (Louisville, Kentucky)
Brian Knight (Johns Creek, Georgia)
Jo Bair Springer (Hastings, Nebraska)
Mariamarta Conrad (Fayetteville, North Carolina)

Reflections from the 2016 BJC Fellows

Sarah Amick gained a new appreciation for the deep Baptist history in her home state.
Click to read her reflection.

John Weber discovered that religious freedom is God-given as well as government-protected.
Click to read his reflection.

Jo Bair Springer was moved by the legacy of Baptists speaking from the margins.
Click to read her reflection.

Ashton Wells discovered new ways to share the legacy of religious liberty with others.
Click to read her reflection.

“History wants us to believe that the Founders were dichotomous robots that could come out vehemently and uniformly on one side of the issue or the other. I have discerned that religious liberty is a ‘touchy subject,’ in part, because it is complex and cannot neatly fit society’s desire to compartmentalize between conservative and liberal.”

—Mariamarta Conrad

“Re-thinking Baptist theology as a theology of freedom was a revelation for me. Through this new way of understanding the origins of Baptist life in the U.S., my identity as a young, black woman called to ministry in the church and in the world made sense. My Fellows experience served to reinforce my growing consciousness of Baptist history as a history of inclusion rather than exclusion.”

—Jaimie Crumley

“I was struck by the point Michael Meyerson made: if the framers wanted to exclude those of faith communities other than Protestant Christians from freedom of religious expression, religious practice, or the lack thereof, they could have done so explicitly in our founding documents. But our founding framers chose not to be exclusive.”

—Megan Pike

“Buoyed by the knowledge of a common goal in the promotion and protection of religious liberty, we shared our experiences, our questions, and our doubts. On Wednesday of that week, ten strangers arrived in the living historical site that is Colonial Williamsburg, but on the following Sunday, ten friends departed amongst heartfelt goodbyes.”

—Brian Knight

“As a BJC Fellow, I was able to learn, experience, and practice [Jeffersonian] trust in others. I learned about the fears our Founders had, like Thomas Jefferson, and how they overcame them to embrace religious liberty for all. I experienced a diverse group of people of different backgrounds and our commitment to listen and learn from each other regardless of the conclusions.”

—Jenny Hodge

“To have a learning community with which to be engaged beneficially juxtaposed living debates in apposition to the historical and theological knowledge we gained. Hearing how colleagues are re-imagining the capacious ideals of religious liberty in their particular and varied contexts continue to be a prime highlight of the Fellows experience.”

—Christopher The