WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Amidst a throng of family, friends and students, Daniel Akin was inaugurated as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in an Oct. 27 ceremony “devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
More than a thousand people packed Binkley Chapel, in the center of the Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus, to witness the inauguration of only the sixth president in the seminary’s 53-year history.
“On behalf of 42,000 churches and 16 million Southern Baptists,” SBC Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman said in his greeting, “I congratulate Dr. Akin on this momentous day from which Southeastern will go forward for the glory of God. This institution will continue to be a lighthouse for the glory of God all around the world. I thank God, as do all Southern Baptists, that this humble servant comes to the helm of leadership.”
Tim Lewis, chairman of the seminary’s trustees, echoed Chapman’s sentiments.
“This is a glorious day in the life of this institution, a day for which we have prayed, planned and sought the Lord’s will,” Lewis said. “Dr. Akin is a man of commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and to good thinking about theology based on a firm faith in the inerrancy of God’s Word. He is a man of proven character, with a contagious passion for life, living and people. I know of no other man more adequately prepared to be president of Southeastern than Dr. Akin.”
The chapel ceremony was the culmination of a weeklong celebration at Southeastern, where many Southern Baptist leaders gathered to honor Akin for his character and dedication but reserved for the glory for Jesus Christ.
“All that matters in life is that you please Jesus,” Akin said. “My sole passion in life is to live under His lordship.”
In an Oct. 24 gathering with the seminary family at Akin’s home church, Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, Johnny Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area Woodstock Baptist Church, noted to Akin, “You need to remember that what is important to the leader is important to the follower.
“A spiritual leader says, ‘Follow me.’ Establish a path for others to follow,” Hunt counseled. “They’re going to be watching you. Preach with purity and integrity of doctrine. Preach with integrity, dignity and sincerity, and curiosity will follow.”
Speakers at other inauguration events during the week included Akin’s personal friends James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
A common refrain from those who know Akin best was that behind the aura of leadership, Akin is a genuine man of God.
“Daniel Akin is a man of 100 percent integrity -– absolute integrity,” Merritt said.
During Wednesday’s inauguration service, Akin received greetings from the mayor of Wake Forest, Vivian Jones, and James Royston, executive director of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Delivering the charge to Akin was Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, Akin’s immediate predecessor at Southeastern and a man Akin calls his “father in ministry.”
Patterson praised Akin as a “matchless communicator, fabulous preacher, fine theologian and exegete of the Scriptures and man of God.”
The friendship between the two began long ago when Patterson served as Akin’s preaching professor at Criswell College, preached Akin’s ordination and hired him for his first teaching position.
On this day, the man Akin calls his “single-most influential” mentor in the ministry told him, “Lead God’s people with the integrity of your heart.”
Patterson continued, “Like Enoch, walk with Him so closely that it seems you’re closer to His house than your own…. The same God who gives you life and strength will sustain you in heavy responsibility. May God bless you every day, sweet son, as you serve the Lord.”
Akin was visibly moved by the outpouring of love and support, and he concluded the ceremony by pledging to lead Southeastern in training ministers to take the Word of God to a world in need of Him.
“I pledge to build an institution that will continue to stand on the infallible and inerrant Word of God,” Akin said. “Southeastern Seminary will continue to stand for personal evangelism, world missions and the exclusivity of the Gospel. We believe heaven and hell are real and the only difference is Jesus Christ.”