David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
March 19, 2007

As you know, John Baugh passed away two weeks ago. It is difficult to begin an article about the life of Mr. Baugh, because I do not know where to start. And it is impossible to write an article that will do justice to all of the contributions that Mr. Baugh made to Baptist life, especially in the past 20 years.

He was one of the most amazing individuals I have ever met, and I did not meet him until he was 70 years old. He accomplished so many things in his long life, and just what he did in the past 20 years was more than I could hope to do in a lifetime.

In many ways, Mr. Baugh founded Texas Baptists Committed, the Mainstream Baptist Network, and even the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship through the strength of his character and through his commitment to Christ and historic Baptist principles and practices. It is primarily because of Mr. Baugh’s committed efforts that there is still a “moderate, traditional” Baptist witness in America today, even after the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. He would not quit standing up for what he knew was right.

His contributions to preserving the true Baptist heritage and religious liberty for all will reap benefits for all real Baptists forever, as well as all Americans. He was a man of uncommon courage and vision. I will miss his counsel greatly.

Allow me to use a few words to describe the John Baugh I knew.


Courageous: John Baugh was a very courageous man. I do not remember him ever being afraid of anything or anyone. I do not recall him ever “counting the cost” before standing up to fundamentalism. During the heat of the battle, he was willing to do whatever it took to save Texas, although it surprises many to discover that he did not “fund” TBC. He believed strongly that TBC must be funded by the gifts of many individuals and was constantly pushing me to be creative in building our membership. Most years, he was not even our largest contributor, because he was always doing “his own thing” in many ways to supplement our work.

Tenacious: I will admit to getting frustrated with Mr. Baugh at times, because he pushed me so hard, although always in a professional manner. He just would not take “no” for an answer. He would first announce that something was going to be done—a meeting held or a newsletter published, for example—and I and others would then rush to make it happen. He often left us no choice but to simply try to keep up with his enormous energy. It’s no exaggeration—just a statement of fact—to point out that Mr. Baugh’s tenacity saved a traditional Baptist witness in America.

Creative: Mr. Baugh was as creative a man as I have ever known. When I first met him, he had recently founded the Baptist Laity Journal, which later, basically, turned into Baptists Committed. He wrote one of the best books to help people understand the fundamentalist takeover: The Battle for Baptist Integrity. He wrote and delivered many inspiring speeches at critical times in Baptist history. By the way, we have many copies of Mr. Baugh’s book available in our office. For $5.00, to cover mailing and postage expenses, we will send it to anyone who asks us to do so. Just email carolscott@txbc.org or call our office at 325-659-4102.


Humble: Mr. Baugh was a humble man. Did you know that, although he founded SYSCO Corporation, he never had an assigned parking space? In fact, no one at SYSCO headquarters had an assigned parking space. Everyone was considered equal. This philosophy applied to travel, too. Mr. Baugh never flew first class, and any SYSCO employee who wanted to fly first class—including Mr. Baugh himself—was required to personally pay for the upgrade. Again, everyone was considered to be of equal worth to the company, even the founder.

Classy: John Baugh and Herbert Reynolds are the two classiest individuals I have ever known. I used to laugh that they are the only two people on the planet who called me Dr. Currie, but they always have, and I sort of liked it. It made me feel special, but please, I don’t want a bunch of you to start doing it, because I like being just David. But I knew that, to them, it was a sign of respect.

Mr. Baugh always made me feel special when I was in his presence. I knew I was in the presence of greatness and was often in awe of him, but I learned so much from him. I do not expect that we will see his likes again in Baptist life. He was one of a kind. John Baugh allowed Christ to use him in mighty ways that will forever benefit us, our children, and our grandchildren.