About the Center

"The Mercerian" - Spring 2012

Daniel Vestal to Head Baugh Leadership CenterResized Baugh Center Opening

Longtime Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Dr. Daniel Vestal has been appointed to lead Mercer’s new Eula Mae and John Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership, which is being endowed with a $2.5 million grant from the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation. Dr. Vestal, who will also serve as Distinguished University Professor, announced last September his intention to retire as leader of the Baptist organization effective June 30. His Mercer appointments are effective July 1.

“I can think of no two names more synonymous with Baptist leadership than John Baugh and Daniel Vestal. John Baugh for many decades provided courageous and principled leadership as a Baptist layperson, and Daniel Vestal for more than 15 years has provided courageous and principled leadership for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,” President William D. Underwood said. “I am pleased that Dr. Vestal will serve in this new capacity as director of the Baugh Center and as Mercer’s first Distinguished University Professor of Baptist Leadership. I am deeply grateful to Babs Baugh and her daughters, Jackie and Julie, for making this investment to prepare future Baptist leaders who will champion the principles and embody the character of their late father and mother and grandfather and grandmother.”

“I am honored by this appointment as well as the generosity of the Baugh Foundation and anticipate being a part of such an historic institution as Mercer University,” Dr. Vestal said. “Eula Mae and John Baugh embodied integrity and Christian character. This Center will be a lasting legacy to their lives and will foster research, learning and community within the Baptist family. It will pursue excellence for both lay and clergy leaders by combining spiritual formation, academic study and caring collegiality.”

“It is with great confidence and anticipation that the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation entrusts Dr. Daniel Vestal and President Underwood with the very important tasks of working with thoughtful and dedicated Baptist students in the field of leadership, as well as in the areas of Baptist principles, ethics, theology, history and integrity,” said Babs Baugh, a former Mercer trustee. “We are honored to be associated with all of those who will participate in the practice and teaching of these ideals and can think of no better way to honor the legacy of John and Eula Mae Baugh. This was their passion.”


The Nature of Leadership

by Daniel Vestal

In his book “Let Your Life Speak” Parker Palmer says the following about leadership.

“I’ll give you a quick definition of a leader: a leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to project on other people his or her shadow, or his or her light. A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create the conditions under which other people must live and move and have their being – conditions that can either be as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside him or her self, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.”

Through the years I have observed individuals in positions of leadership who have had profound influence for good while others who have had profound influence for bad. But for most of us it is a mixture, and even when we want to lead in a good way we often lead in ways that produce mixed results.

At the Baugh Center we look at models and theory, systems and structures. But we also listen to practitioners and learn from real people who desire to be Christ like leaders. We show grace to one another, because we all need grace. There are no perfect leaders, just as there are no perfect people. So we learn with a focus on respect and mutual trust. We also learn from one another’s failures as well as successes, and we are attentive to the leadership of ordinary individuals as well as the experts.

So join us in this conversation about leadership.  Write us with your ideas, suggestions and concerns. The Eula Mae and John Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership promises to be like the couple for whom it is named, an adventure.