Weekly Update

Kingdom legacy: Roots, resilience and the rock

Jun 05, 2024

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40, NIV)

June is here! Churches are having VBS, students are heading to camp, and groups are departing on short-term mission trips. What an exciting time! 

Allow me to pause to share about Texas Baptists’ Legacy Day. This past Sunday we had the privilege of presenting the Texas Baptists Legacy Award to Dr. Lee Baggett and Dr. Charles H. Whiteside.

Each year we honor individuals who have made a significant lifetime contribution to the work of Texas Baptists and the Kingdom of God. This year’s honorees were no exception.

Lee Baggett was born in Vernon, Texas. In 1957 he surrendered for “special service” during youth week at Glorieta. Subsequently, he served in the Spanish-speaking mission of FBC, Vernon from 1957 to 1959 and later as a BSU summer missionary to Juarez, Mexico.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Wayland Baptist College in 1964 and later earned an M.D. degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Mexico. The Foreign Mission Board appointed him a physician missionary to Mexico in 1974.

Baggett served as the medical outreach coordinator of the Baptist Hospital in Guadalajara from 1974 to 2007. And, he currently serves as the president of “Manos Hermanas,” which seeks to provide resources to alleviate hunger, thirst, illness and poverty in Christ’s name, in the same city.

Charlie Hugh Whiteside was born and raised in the Grapevine-Coppell area. He earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University. After serving in the U.S. Army in Korea, he taught chemistry at Kilgore College and established an agricultural testing laboratory.

Over the years, Dr. Whiteside contributed to the capital development of the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) at Kilgore College, was a recipient of the East Texas Baptist University W.T. Tardy Service Award as he supported the Nursing education center and served on the BGCT Executive Board from 2002-2007. He also served the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission with distinction.

The Whitesides have been strong supporters and promoters of the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering. Charles also served as an advisory member of the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation with a particular interest in hunger relief.

Much more can be said about the lifetime service of both Dr. Baggett and Dr. Whiteside but these are examples of the kind of legacy they have and continue to leave for the sake of the Kingdom. They join the legacy of people of faith from biblical times to the present day.

Legacy Day took place at the Independence Baptist Church in Brenham, the oldest Baptist church in Texas, established in 1839. The building where the church meets every Sunday for worship is located very near the original site of Baylor University.

Texas State history and the history of Baptists in Texas converge here, reminding us of the rich legacy to which we are connected as Texas Baptists. The future may seem challenging and it will require us to be flexible and adaptive. Yet, our roots go deep and our resilience is strong as we trust in the Rock, which is Christ.

May our generation continue to build on that legacy for future generations “so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40).

Dr. Guarneri is the 21st executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He holds degrees from Texas A&M University Kingsville, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dallas Baptist University. He has more than 39 years of ministerial experience and is passionate about sharing the Gospel with the nations and cross-cultural missions and ministry.