Dr. Robert Taylor Baggott has served as the Senior Minister of Community Church of Vero Beach Florida, a United Church of Christ congregation, since 2004.
Dr. Baggott received a B.S. degree from Samford University, a Masters of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Graduate Theological Foundation, South Bend, Indiana.
Prior to accepting the call to serve at Community Church, Dr. Baggott served churches in Atlanta, Miami, and Minneapolis. He currently serves on the board of the Nazareth-Galilee Educational Institute, in Nazareth, Israel.
Well, with Christmas nearly here, there is probably not one among us whose thoughts don't stray towards Bethlehem with real longing. Do you want to go to Bethlehem? Well, getting there hasn't always been easy.
Back in the 1980's when I first started leading groups on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, getting to Bethlehem required disembarking our tour bus at an armored check point outside the town, having our passports checked, then walking a full block under the watchful eye of heavily armed Israeli soldiers. Only after successfully navigating this pulse-quickening walk could we board a Palestinian bus to finally take us into Bethlehem. In the 1990's the process changed a bit. Our tour bus still had to stop at a checkpoint before entering the city, but then instead of requiring passengers to get off, armed soldiers got on. They walked up and down the aisles checking passports and asking questions. After a few anxiety-producing minutes, when the all clear was given, we could drive to the other side of the checkpoint, change buses, and enter Bethlehem. When we last traveled to Bethlehem, just last winter, the process of getting there had eased dramatically. There was no passport check on the way in. Nor did soldiers board the bus. We simply drove to a kiosk where our bus driver spoke to a guard for a few moments. Then we were waved on, with the greatest impediment being the speed bump that lies at the gate of the twenty-five foot cement wall which now sadly separates Israel from the West Bank. And that is how you get to Bethlehem these days, at least physically.Read full transcript...