Students learn about history of movement, doctrine at annual meeting in Austin.

AUSTIN–Hoping to encourage the participation of SBTC homeschool families at the annual state convention meeting held Nov. 13-14, special opportunities were provided for homeschoolers that included meetings with three Southern Baptist leaders, a study hall, internships and a tour through an exhibit area featuring Southern Baptist ministries.
Those meeting with the students included SBC leaders who have at one time or another home educated their own children, including Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Malcolm Yarnell and Criswell College President Jerry Johnson.
Several families toured the Bob Bullock State History Museum and the capitol building. Homeschool parent Karla Sessions was available to speak with convention participants interested in learning more about educating children at home.
Susan Hall, who homeschools seven children ranging in age from two months to 13 years old, said she enjoyed the convention music, tour of the state capitol, and Land’s presentation on ethics.
“It was very interesting to hear Dr. Land explain to the kids where Baptists stand on certain issues such as stem-cell research,” she told the TEXAN.
From Johnson’s explanation of the beliefs that Baptists hold on Scripture and baptism, her children memorized key beliefs through an acronym the Criswell College president provided using the word “Baptist.”
Yarnell walked the students through an understanding of Baptist history, explaining the martyrdom of many Anabaptists, influence of English and American Baptists and eventual formation of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Thirteen-year-old Jarryd Hall said he was “terribly excited” to hear Gov. Rick Perry speak in his first public appearance after winning re-election the previous week. Hall said that Perry even encouraged the group on a spiritual level.
“Jarryd turned to me in the middle of Gov. Perry’s speech, and said, ‘Mom, I like him. I’ve never heard a politician say how much he loved God before.’ That made a huge impression on him that Gov. Perry would speak about his faith,” Hall said.
Her son described Perry’s speech as “straightforward and really good,” adding, “It was a cool experience.”
The teenager interned with SBC Tapes, a sound duplicating service run by Blake and Connie Stiles, who homeschool their son. Hall learned how to copy, label and sell the tapes of lectures from the convention. He also helped distribute Christian books, passed out reports of missionaries, as well as pens and calendars designed to remind conference attendees of the missionaries.
The youngest children of homeschooling families were even included in the fun, Hall said, as host church Great Hills Baptist provided access to what she described as an “extraordinary” Noah’s Ark play area for smaller children.
“Overall, I learned so much at the convention. It was worth more than I was expecting. You never can tell sometimes if something will be worth your time, but I personally felt very blessed to be there.”
Elizabeth Bransom took her teenage daughter, Mary, to the convention where she interned with the Resolutions Committee, and according to her mother, learned a lot. “It was a really neat, growing experience for her.”
“I came home with such an incredible high,” Bransom said, “because the conference was so great. The preaching was outstanding, and the music was really uplifting and encouraging.”

Sonya Daily brought all three of her children along, and had an unusual experience, which, although initially frustrating, led to an exciting turn of events. After some confusion with schedules, which caused them to miss the homeschoolers’ tour of the state history museum, the family hurried back to the conference, afraid of missing the governor’s speech, and actually ended up on the front row as he walked through.

“It completely made up for not going to the museum,” Daily says. “We got to see him and shake his hand. It was crazy how the events of the day ended up for me, but I was thrilled to death that the kids got to see the governor,” Daily said.

Even her 9-year-old daughter Sophia, and 11-year-old son Stephen enjoyed going through the exhibits and getting all the freebies such as pens and calendars.

“We certainly enjoyed all the speakers and appreciated what the governor had to say,” Daily said, calling his message encouraging for Texans and Christians who were there. She definitely plans on attending again next year, where she hopes there will be even more opportunities for homeschoolers.

“I would like to see the Southern Baptists keep expanding that door,” she said. “I think there’s a big group out there who just haven’t gotten plugged in yet.”

One missionary family who homeschools was among those seated at the front for the governor’s speech, shaking his hand as he left the auditorium. Joe Bryan said his girls were “very much enlightened by all the speakers,” adding, “My youngest had the opportunity to low-five the governor.”

Brenda Clements, who has been involved with Baptist churches for years and attended many similar conferences, said this year’s convention was helpful and well-organized.

“Overall, the conference was a good experience for the kids and a good time for us as a family,” Clements said. “I really appreciate the Southern Baptists of Texas acknowledging homeschoolers in a positive way,” she continued, “and their efforts to include homeschoolers in the convention.”

Fourteen-year-old Cathy was excited to be able to take pictures at the convention, enjoyed attending the different presentations with her parents, and said she would definitely like to go back next year when the meeting will be held in Arlington. Her 17-year-old sister, Beth, enjoyed hearing Perry, stating, “It’s a blessing to know that godly men are leading our country.”

She said she thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on the Resolutions Committee, learning more about the issues discussed which ranged from immigration reform to persecution of Christians in Darfur.

Resolutions committee chairman Marlene Boswell encouraged allowing several homeschooled students to observe their deliberations over several days.

“I think they learned all the work that goes into researching, presenting, defending, and coming to a conclusion before sending that resolution off to press and then defending it before the body,” Boswell said.

While working as a group is not always easy, they eventually come to a consensus, she said.

“I think the students learned confidentiality, compassion, and admiration for all the pastors that were in that group. Even though we had differences of opinions, the one thing that bound us together was our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.”

Plans are underway for similar opportunities for homeschooling families when the SBTC Evangelism Conference is held in Euless Feb. 5-6. For more information contact Tammi Ledbetter by e-mailing

For more information on home education in Texas, contact karla Sessions by e-mailing her at

The Southern Baptist Church and Home Education Association provides information on support and fellowship for Southern Baptists who are home educating their children with details available at The SBCHEA’s annual Kingdom Education Summit will be held during the annual meeting of the SBC next summer in San Antonio.


TEXAN Correspondent
Stacie Wacaster
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