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Remembering Robert Broome


July 13, 2009 | bpfna

Robert Broome, of Louisville, KY, a much-loved peacemaker and founding force behind the Baptist Peacemaker journal, died July 11, 2009, while visiting his daughter and granddaughters in Asheville, NC. He worked closely with Carman Sharp, Glen Stassen and others for many years in the cause of peace, and he initiated the conversation the resulted in the creation of Baptist Peacemaker.

Following a landmark 1979 peace convocation at Deer Park Baptist Church in Louisville, leaders of the event continued to meet and discuss other peacemaking actions. Long-time peace advocate Carman Sharp recalled that one day a member of the group “tossed a rather disturbing idea into our midst.” Broome, a member of
Deer Park, suggested that the group start a journal dedicated to the peace issue, patterned somewhat after Seeds magazine, a publication focused on world hunger issues and founded by members of Oakhurst Baptist Church, then a Southern Baptist congregation in Decatur, GA.

Broome had become acquainted with the peacemaking efforts of the Society of Friends (Quakers) while working at a Quaker-sponsored high school in Tennessee during the late 1970s. “I was impressed by the quality of their networking” on peace issues, said Broome, adding he wanted to see Southern Baptist peacemakers across the nation develop a sense of unity.

Broome had helped organize what may have been the first Southern Baptist group centered around peace issues. In the early 1970s, while the United States was still fighting the Vietnam War, he and a group of Southern Seminary students began an organization dedicated to seeking peace.

Broome’s idea to start the peacemaking journal was met initially with pessimism among the Louisville peacemakers. “I really didn’t encourage the idea to begin with,” said Glen Stassen, a noted ethics professor and a longtime peace activist among Baptists. “I doubted that we could get any readership.”

Yet Sharp, who was also skeptical of the peace journal’s chances for success, said Broome persisted in his advocacy for the publication. Finally, after much prayer and discussion, the group decided to plunge into the publishing world. They contacted a printer, compiled a mailing list of about 6,000 and published the first issue in December 1980. The first issue was financed with surplus funds left over from the peace convocation. Soon letters of affirmation and donations began pouring into the Peacemaker office at Deer Park Baptist, which had agreed to provide an office.

Late in the summer of 1989 the Peacemaker staff decided it would be difficult to carry on. That’s when they contacted Ken Sehested, executive director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) about a possible merger. The two organizations had enjoyed a good relationship since BPFNA's founding in 1984. After initial discussions and consideration by the BPFNA board of directors, it was decided that beginning in 1990 the journal would be published out of the BPFNA office in
Memphis, TN, with Hinson and Sehested serving as co-editors.

Now in its 29th year and edited by Katie Cook (also editor of Seeds), Baptist Peacemaker has devoted much of its space to essays, sermons and devotional material. It has also given consistent attention to encouraging and cultivating peace groups in local churches. The journal continues to be an important publication and has been recognized several times by the Associated Church Press for excellence in its field.

Robert Broome is survived by his wife Rosanne, his children, Heather and Lisa, his sons-in-law Matt and David, and his grandchildren, Even, Austin, Michaela, and Amelia.

portions reprinted from an article by Pat Cole in Baptist Peacemaker, vol. 10 no. 1, Spring 1990
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