Standing For Principle

Two weeks after his surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Robert E. Lee found himself in an Episcopalian church one Sunday morning, a service that he rarely failed to attend. During the service, an African-American walked in and sat down toward the back of the church. The congregation murmured among themselves, wondering what to do. This had never happened before, and many of the people were in shock. Toward the end of the service, as is tradition in the Episcopal church, the rector called the people forward for communion. The African-American was the first to go forward. The people had no idea what to do. This was an entirely new situation for them, and most certainly went against their pompous tradition. As the rector finished his prayer, the people looked up, and there, kneeling with the African-American, was none other than Robert E. Lee. One of the elders came forward after the service and asked the famous general, “Mr. Lee? What are you doing kneeling with that black man?” Lee stood up in his erect posture, looked the man in the eye, and in that rich Southern drawl responded, “Sir, at the foot of the cross, there’s equal ground.”

This story perfectly represents the Robert E. Lee that biographer Emory Thomas presents, the man who, forced to fight on the side of his homeland, nevertheless goes forward and proudly stands up for what he believes.

Robert E. Lee faced conflicts, as all of us do. He had a father who wasn’t there, a wife who was an invalid, children that didn't obey, and a country that rejected him at the end of his life; yet his legacy endures. What made him so successful was not that he managed to free himself from all troubles, but the fact that he found out how to endure them. In a letter to a friend, Thomas records Lee’s words: “Live in the world you inhabit…When a thing is done we ought always make the best of it…We make a great deal of our own happiness and misery in this world…turn your affliction to your benefit.”[i] The advice still rings true today.


Thomas, Emory M. Robert E. Lee: A Biography. New York: Norton, 1995.

[i] Thomas, 171.

Barry E. Fields

All Things New is the preaching and teaching ministry of Barry E. Fields, pastor of Hawesville Baptist Church, a regional congregation on the Ohio River with two campuses in Kentucky (Hawesville) & Indiana (Crossroads Tell City) and membership in five counties.

Originally from Bowling Green, he grew up at Glendale Baptist Church under the ministry of Pastor Richard Oldham, competed for Western Kentucky University's nationally recognized speech and debate team before receiving a B.A. in History in 2007, completed an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville in 2010, a Th.M. in 2012, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Homiletics and Church History at Southern, serving as Garrett Fellow to Dr. Hershael York from July 2012-December 2014. He has also taught theology and church history as an adjunct instructor for Campbellsville University. Before coming to his present ministry, he was pastor of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Buffalo, Kentucky, for almost 5 years.

Active in denominational life, Barry currently serves on the Southern Baptist Convention's Young Leaders Advisory Council, a small group of pastors and ministry leaders seeking to engage the next generation in cooperative missions and ministry; recently completed a term on the SBC's Committee on Committees; currently represents the Blackford Breckinridge Baptist Association on the Kentucky Baptist Convention's Executive Mission Board; and has served on the KBC's Committee on Nominations, as well as several associational roles.

In his free time, he enjoys reading history and politics, listening to WKYU's Barren River Breakdown (Bluegrass and folk music) along with a variety of podcasts, as well as watching historical and political documentaries and the Andy Griffith show. Barry has a desire to help people fulfill the Great Commission through the Great Commandments: by showing the love of Christ, we can better share the love of Christ, and make disciples of all nations. And just so you know, he bleeds BLUE (UK Basketball)!