FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–To celebrate a century of theological training in Texas, professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary topped off their traditional attire with a not-so-traditional cowboy hat for SWBTS’ centennial convocation Jan. 17.
“Academic regalia in general is derived from medieval dress. Many of the hat designs reflect what was popular at that time,” said Craig Blaising, the seminary’s executive vice president and provost. “As Southwestern celebrates its centennial, we felt it was appropriate to wear a hat that reflects the time and location of this great school: a beaver felt western hat — black, in keeping with formal academic tradition.”
Southwestern was founded by B.H. Carroll in 1908 on the campus of Baylor University in Waco and moved to its current location in Fort Worth in 1910. The seminary was placed under the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925.
At January’s centennial convocation, Blaising introduced a special guest as the chapel’s lights lowered and a spotlight illuminated a large replica of Carroll. What initially appeared to be a narrative voice soon became a dramatic presentation as graduate student Matt Brandt stepped through the frame, dressed like Carroll in the portrait. Brandt’s dramatization recreated the meeting when Carroll proposed moving the seminary to Fort Worth.
SWBTS President Paige Patterson later noted that this would the first of many performances throughout the year to educate students about the seminary’s history.
Various events scheduled throughout the centennial celebration were noted by Patterson, including breaking ground on a new homemaking house for the concentration in the College at Southwestern.
Beginning a 12-part sermon series on “The Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5, Patterson said his goal throughout the series is to lead individuals to realize “that the grace of God is the most incredible force in the world.”
It is impossible to put God’s blessings into words, Patterson said, noting, “It’s all grace.”
“But there are things you can do to be blessed,” he said, referencing the Beatitudes and examining the significance of meekness, gentleness and mercy, among other biblical qualities.
During the convocation, two new elected faculty members, Cky Carrigan, associate professor of missions, and Waylan Owens, associate professor of pastoral ministry, signed the book of confessional heritage, symbolizing their commitment to adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 in their teaching. Appointed faculty members introduced were Laura Zettler, assistant professor of homemaking and director of the college’s homemaking concentration, and Abjar Bahkou, professor of missions in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
At the conclusion of the convocation, students were invited to the Naylor Student Center to enjoy a piece of Southwestern’s birthday cake. The faculty gathered on the steps of the Rotunda for a photo, tipping their hats to Fort Worth and Southern Baptists as an expression of gratitude for 100 years of support.
Centennial events will continue throughout 2008, with a special Founder’s Day Celebration slated for March 14 to commemorate the day the institution was officially founded and a centennial graduation on May 9.
Michelle McNatt is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.