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|Size||12.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 7000 items)|
|Abstract||Correspondence, sermons, writings, and other papers of Robert E. Seymour, pastor of the Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, N.C., 1959-1988. Seymour, considered somewhat of a maverick in Southern Baptist circles, was deeply involved in racial integration efforts in the 1960s and remained active thereafter in a great number of community organizations and causes.|
|Creator||Seymour, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1925-|
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Robert E. Seymour was born on 13 July 1925 in Greenwood, S.C. In deference to his father's wishes, he started his studies at the Citadel, but quickly switched to the Navy's pre-chaplaincy program. He attended Newberry College for two years and then studied at Duke University, from which he was graduated with a B.A. degree in 1945. He received a Masters of Divinity degree from the Yale Divinity School in 1948 and a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1955.
In 1959, Seymour became the first minister of the Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, N.C. Before coming to Binkley, he was pastor of the Mars Hill Baptist Church in Mars Hill, N.C.; pastor of the Warrenton Baptist Church in Warrenton, N.C.; and assistant pastor of the Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.
The Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church started out with about 40 parishioners; services were held in Gerrard Hall on the University of North Carolina campus. The establishment of the Church coincided with the arrival of some of the first black students at the University. From the beginning, Binkley had an open membership policy that sought to include not only all races, but all Christians, including those who had not been baptized through immersion in water in orthodox Baptist churches. This and other stances earned the Binkley Baptist Church and its pastor reputations in the Southern Baptist Convention for being "uncooperative." Seymour himself was frequently labeled a maverick for opposing the Baptist Church's move towards conformity and for advocating racial integration.
Under Seymour's leadership, the Binkley Baptist Church became involved in day care and preschool programs, classes and services to older adults, and other community activities. He also kept the Church active in both the Southern Baptist Convention and the more liberal American Baptist Convention. At the time of his retirement in 1988, the Church had about 500 members.
After his retirement, Seymour published two books: Whites Only: A Pastor's Restrospective on Life in the New South in 1991 and Aging Without Apology in 1995. He is one of the writers of the "Village Voices" column in the Chapel Hill News.
Seymour participated in many community undertakings, including serving as the first president of the Inter-Faith Council, a social services association of churches and synagogues in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area. He is married to Pearl Seymour and has a daughter named Frances and a son named Robert III.
(Compiled from various newspaper and journal sources.)Back to Top
Chiefly correspondence, 1941-1988, largely consisting of incoming letters from friends, family, and colleagues. Most letters are post-1959, when Seymour moved to the Binkley Baptist Church. There are many letters from parishioners and others thanking Seymour for services rendered. There are also letters containing invitations to conferences or requests for services. There appear to be few letters dealing directly with church business or with the many organizations and causes with which Seymour was affiliated.
There is a series of typed copies and photocopies of outgoing letters, 1981-1988, some of which appear to be related to incoming letters in the collection. Also included are photocopies of selected pages from scrapbooks documenting Seymour's career from 1947 to his retirement in 1988.
Writings by Robert E. Seymour:
John Gill, Baptist Theologian, 1697-1771, typescript. Doctoral thesis at University of Edinburgh.
"You Can't Hold Back the Spring" (1990), typescript. Published in 1991 as Whites Only: A Pastor's Restrospective on Life in the New South. The typescript includes material that does not appear in the printed version.
Celebrating Christmas as Christians (1990), printed.
Copy of Whites Only: A Pastor's Retrospective on Signs of the South (1991) by Seymour and a 1992 review of the book from Baptists Today.Back to Top
Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, May 1990 with subsequent additions
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
Full processing of this collection has been deferred pending expected additions.Back to Top