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$3M gift will help launch Charles Stanley center at Truett-McConnell

A new endowed chair at Truett McConnell University will be named in honor of Charles Stanley, longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, former SBC president and founder of In Touch Ministries.

CLEVELAND, Ga. – Emir Caner, president of Truett McConnell University, has announced that the university has received a gift of $3 million, the second largest gift in the school’s 76-year history and the first gift of its kind for the purpose of endowing a faculty chair. The gift will be used to endow in perpetuity the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology and to fund the Global Impact Center in Miller Hall, the building which serves as the centerpiece of the TMU campus.

Stanley’s theological pilgrimage took him from a childhood rooted in Pentecostalism to a Southern Baptist Church in his hometown of Danville, Va., when he was 16. Through the tutelage of his Southern Baptist pastor and the education he would receive in Baptist institutions, Stanley embraced Baptist distinctives and devoted his life to expounding biblical doctrines in the Baptist tradition, even serving as president of the SBC from 1984 to 1986.

Truett McConnell University President Emir Caner (left) speaks with Mael Disseau, who will be the first professor to occupy the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology at the school.

Anthony George, who succeeded Stanley as pastor of First Baptist Atlanta in 2020 and who is also an outgoing trustee at TMU, said, “For over 70 years, Dr. Stanley’s preaching has been marked by our Baptist doctrinal trademarks such as biblical infallibility, Trinitarian theology, the substitutionary atonement, the exclusivity of Christ and the priesthood and eternal security of the believer.”

George added: “This gift and the naming of this Chair of Theology could not have honored anyone more fitting. His ministry has modeled the bold proclamation of Scripture so visibly, so practically, so consistently and so globally, and to this day stands on a rock-solid theological foundation.”  

Mael Disseau, dean of the Hubmaier School of Theology and Missions and associate professor of biblical and theological studies, will be the first professor to occupy the Stanley chair.

“TMU’s foundation as a Christian university is, and must be, the Word of God,” Disseau said. “It is therefore only fitting that the first endowed chair given to this institution is a Chair of Theology. It is also very appropriate that this gift is given to honor Dr. Stanley, who has spent his life teaching the Word of God and fighting for the Word of God and its primacy.

“Christ has given us a ministry of reconciliation, that the world might be reconciled to Him (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). For the church and the academy to accomplish this in the current cultural climate, we will have to be proactive in engaging the culture. It is therefore à propos that TMU start a Global Impact Center where truth, missions and freedom matter to a greater degree.

“This gift will provide facilities for this center and the first of three endowed chairs, the Chair of Theology. While rejoicing at the generosity and vision of these donors, we continue to pray that God will lead other visionaries to give so that two more endowed chairs will be added to the center: a Chair of Global Impact and a Chair of Biblical and Cultural Engagement.

Disseau added: “I consider it a great honor to be asked to be the inaugural occupant of the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology. Dr. Stanley’s life has demonstrated a passion for the Word of God and the Great Commission.

“A similar passion drives me as a believer and guides me as the dean of the Hubmaier School of Theology and Missions, where we seek to prepare graduates, through a biblically centered education, who, as faithful members of their local churches, will be transformed by Christ; critical thinkers; and equipped to understand and effectively communicate Scripture to all peoples in order to fulfill their vocation as Christians.”

Caner, now in his 15th year as president of TMU, said, “An inerrant Bible demands that we who believe in the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ must intentionally and urgently share the Gospel with everyone. For Christ not only died for everyone, He died for each one. No pastor has modeled such a heart for the world as closely as Dr. Stanley. He is a hero to me and to so many.”

In 1944, the Georgia Baptist Convention was asked to approve the establishment of the George W. Truett Junior College in Northeast Georgia. At the March 1946 Georgia Baptist Executive Committee meeting, a recommendation was approved that Cleveland, Ga., would be the location of the school and that the name would be Truett-McConnell Junior College.

Truett McConnell reported an enrollment of 468 in 2008 due in part to the closure of its satellite campuses, but by the fall of 2010 the school had an enrollment of 751 students. The institution then began to grow by double-digit figures in succeeding years. Today it is home to nearly 3,000 students.

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