By Lonnie Wilkey
As most people probably are aware, the 11-story Sullivan Tower, which sat on the property formerly owned by LifeWay Christian Resources, was imploded on Saturday, July 21. The former LifeWay property was sold a few years ago and is being developed into a hotel, office buildings, restaurants and retail and entertainment venues.
Art Toalston of Baptist Press wrote an excellent article July 23 that though the building no longer exists, the legacy remains of the man for whom the building was named — James L. Sullivan.
I had the privilege of getting to know Dr. Sullivan before his death in 2004. In my possession is a prized, signed copy of his book, Baptist Polity As I See It. That book should be required reading for any pastor or church staff member. Actually, it would be a good idea if every Baptist read it. We might not have as many problems as we have in our denomination today if people truly understood what it means to be Baptist. But that’s another topic for another time.
Back to Dr. Sullivan, I had the privilege of interviewing him for a story on one occasion. I had an “inside” track to Dr. Sullivan. He was the father-in-law of James Porch,who retired as executive director of the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (now Tennessee Baptist Mission Board) in 2010.
Dr. Sullivan probably forgot more Baptist history than I will ever know. He was Baptist through and through. What’s more, he was a champion of the Cooperative Program. He once said, “When we put a dollar in the offering plate, it touches the world.”
The Southern Baptist Convention would be an amazing denomination if we had more leaders like James L. Sullivan. Read Art Toalston’s story. It’s worthy of your time.