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2nd phase of SEBTS fundraising approved

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees unanimously approved plans for the second phase of the seminary’s decade-long fundraising campaign, with a stated goal of $17 million, during their April 14-15 meeting in Wake Forest, N.C.

Projects to be funded through the campaign include renovations of Southeastern’s library, scholarships for undergraduate students, endowed faculty chairs and the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies.

In other action, trustees approved a $21.3 million budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year and elected three new faculty members.

Seminary administrators, who have been working on the capital campaign for years, said they were pleased to have such enthusiastic trustee approval.

“Fundamentally, this campaign is not about money,” said Daniel Akin, Southeastern’s president. “It is about fulfilling the Great Commission by equipping students to serve the church and spread the fame of the Lord Jesus Christ by every Christ-honoring means possible. We never tire of dreaming about the advance of the Gospel. We need and pray for godly men and women to catch this vision and support us generously in this endeavor.”

Dennis Darville, vice president for institutional advancement, said the board’s approval was an endorsement of more than just a dollar amount, but was an endorsement of Akin and the faculty’s vision to make sure every Southeastern classroom is a Great Commission classroom.

“The outcome of this campaign will be that Southeastern is better equipped to train up godly pastors, missionaries and Christian leaders across all of our degree programs,” Darville said. “It is humbling to see how God is working here and how He is raising up students to accomplish His will. This campaign exists to serve the greater goal of the Great Commission.”

The theme for the second phase of the seminary campaign will be “Fulfilling the Great Commission,” which is reflective of the school’s mission statement.

The first phase of Southeastern’s overarching fundraising campaign was approved in 2002, with the seminary exceeding its stated goal by raising $17 million in that phase. The most visible fruit of the first phase –- the seminary’s flagship academic building, Paige and Dorothy Patterson Hall -– will be dedicated in October.

Bart Neal, Southeastern vice president emeritus and architect of the campaign’s first phase, has assisted the seminary as a consultant in launching phase two. Thanks to the generosity of longtime donors, Southeastern already has quietly raised $10 million toward its phase two goal.

“Southeastern is doing it right,” trustee chairman Ronald Cherry said. “Their mission is God’s mission. Their passion is God’s passion. There has never been a better time to support Southeastern than now.”

Perhaps the biggest impact of the campaign will be felt in the area of Southeastern’s academic resources. Of the overall goal, more than $7 million is devoted either to faculty endowments, library renovation or scholarships. Another key priority, the Drummond Center, will entail endowing mission trip scholarships and offsetting programming and operating costs for Southeastern’s efforts to spread the Gospel around the world through international church planting.

The coming year’s $21.3 million operating budget is a 0.63 percent increase over the current budget. Akin said administrators worked hard to cut costs so that tuition increases could be kept to a minimum and students would not be affected. Given the difficult circumstances in the overall economy, Akin said they did a good job.

“That we even increased the budget at all is a sign of God’s goodness,” Akin said.

The three new faculty members elected by trustees are Steven Wade, assistant professor of pastoral theology; Greg Heisler, associate professor of preaching and speech; and Tracy McKenzie, assistant professor of biblical studies.
Jason Hall is director of communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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