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Curriculum revision, faculty approvals highlight New Orleans trustee meeting

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Major revisions to the college of undergraduate studies curriculum and new women’s ministry and educational technology professorships and a new dean of the chapel were approved during the March 14-15 meeting of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees in New Orleans.

Trustees unanimously approved the revision of the undergraduate curriculum, which includes a new major, Christian ministry, as well as new classes based on eight core competencies.

Two new undergraduate faculty members, Curtis Scott Drumm and Norris Grubbs, specialists in church history and New Testament, respectively, were elected to provide strength to the curriculum, which includes biblical exposition and theological and historical perspectives among the eight competencies.

The curriculum revision has been designed to complement the master of divinity curriculum approved by trustees in March 1999. “I have ties to the seminary for 27 years, beginning as a student,” said Michael Claunch, chairman of the trustees’ instruction committee. “I have never been happier than I am now about our faculty and our curriculum.”

Trustees also approved Bayne Pounds as the first trustee-elected professor of women’s ministry in a Southern Baptist seminary. Her election emphasizes NOBTS’ commitment to train women to minister to other women, as modeled after scriptures in Titus 2.

Laurie Watts, in a presidential appointment, was received as professor of education technology, an administrative support position designed to undergird faculty and staff in technological issues related to their teaching.

Jim Shaddix was named dean of the chapel, an administrative ministry position that will provide continuity in worship planning and regular preaching of the Word for the seminary family, emphasizing a seminary core value of spiritual vitality.

Trustees also approved the re-election of three instructors, the promotion of three professors, and four final and five preliminary sabbaticals for professors.

In his report to the trustees, NOBTS President Chuck Kelley gave an overview of the seminary’s status, beginning with a brief summary of past questions: Where we will be located? What will we teach? What will the seminary look like?

The seminary has remained in its current location, Kelley said, because of its key influence on the community and the recognition by many Southern Baptist churches of needed ministry in the same type urban locations. Signs of renewal in the New Orleans community where the seminary is located include the influx of new businesses and reports of lowering crime. Kelley noted that just outside the campus students have great opportunities for hands-on ministry.

Last year’s transition to the semester system and reworking of the graduate curriculum to focus on seven basic competencies (biblical exposition, Christian theological heritage, disciple-making, interpersonal relationship skills, servant leadership, spiritual and character formation and worship leadership) have gone well, Kelley said.

Other signs of success include the seminary’s enrollment, which is at an all-time high, with 2,250 students enrolled in the fall semester, and 2,721 currently enrolled this spring semester. Cooperative Program giving by Southern Baptists is also at an all-time high, culminating in a sixth record year, Kelley said.

Calling the campus a “crown jewel of Southern Baptist life,” Kelley noted the need for new classrooms and student housing across its 85 acres.

Kelley reported on the $70 million “New Horizons: Equipping Leaders to Change the World” campaign, recently approved by the SBC Executive Committee, to meet some of these needs. Phase I, at a $8 million goal with a challenge of $12 million, will include the following emphases, which primarily consist of rebuilding buildings damaged by New Orleans’ Formosan termites:

— The rebuilding of the Bunyan Building, the facility most destroyed by the termites. This classroom building, in which renovation has already begun, will include a classroom with a baptistery and Lord’s Supper table.

— Two to three units of student housing, beginning in the back of the campus and then moving forward.

— A seminary administration-recommended endowment to fund voucher-type scholarships for children of NOBTS students for the schools of their choice.

In tandem to such challenges, Kelley shared how seminary faculty members are realizing their dreams:

— The Center for New Testament Textual Studies, led by Bill Warren, is busily accumulating and collating Greek manuscripts to be used in an upcoming edition of the Greek New Testament. This center is a leader in the number of manuscripts it has collated and in the size of its collection.

— The Youth Ministry Institute, led by Allen Jackson, has developed a new way of developing youth ministry training, in a forum in which students interact and learn from national experts in the youth ministry field.

— The Institute for Church Health, led by Randy Millwood, has developed ways for churches to identify and improve their health and vitality.

— The Baptist College Partnership program, led by Bill Warren, encourages students in undergraduate programs to pursue biblical studies that may not have to be repeated once they enter into graduate studies.

— The doctor of educational ministries degree (D.Ed.Min.), a professional doctoral degree that does not require master of divinity (M.Div.) equivalency work for which NOBTS recently received approval.

— The Internet: The seminary now has three Internet courses and offers live video-streaming of its Tuesday-through-Thursday chapel services. Recognizing a limit to the number of extension centers that can be built, Kelley said Internet courses will be continue to part of NOBTS’ strategy in its distance learning program.

In other business, trustees approved:

— the 2000-2001 budget of $12.6 million, which reflects a 6.51 percent increase over the current year, including a faculty/staff salary increase of 2 percent and other increases related to the cost of insurance and educational stipends for the children of faculty.

— two building and grounds projects, including the borrowing of $400,000 per year for the next four years from the seminary’s Foundation Board to build 32 new faculty homes. Approval was also given to begin constructing the first four homes.

— the extension to a 60-month lease of facilities to the William Carey School of Nursing, operated by William Carey College, Hattiesburg, Miss.

— minor revisions of the trustee bylaws, including a limit of two consecutive terms that trustees’ chairmen can serve, the deletion of the requirement for an investment subcommittee since the primary committee can handle the workload, and the inclusion of language requiring NOBTS faculty to affirm the most recent version of Southern Baptists’ confessional statement, the Baptist Faith and Message, thereby ensuring the bylaws reflect what has always been a practiced assumption of the seminary.

— a request to the Southern Baptist Foundation to investigate the advantage and/or disadvantages of holding the seminary’s funds in individual or separate investment portfolios as opposed to the existing pool method.

In trustee elections, Michael Claunch of Louisiana was elected as chairman; Ron Yarbrough of Indiana, vice chairman; and outgoing chairman William Hanberry of Mississippi as secretary/treasurer.

    About the Author

  • Shannon Baker

    Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey and editor of the Network’s weekly newsletter, BRN United.

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