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EDUCATION BRIEFS: SEBTS dedicates new building; SWBTS underscores church planting; GGBTS hosts WMU exec; NOBTS launches apologetics institute, honors Leavell

WAFE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary dedicated Paige and Dorothy Patterson Hall Oct. 14, a $6.6-million academic building honoring the seminary’s immediate past president and his wife who served from 1992-2003 at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

During his 11 years at Southeastern, Patterson also served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1998-2000.

Patterson and his wife now serve at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, he as president and she as professor of theology in women’s studies.

Daniel Akin, Patterson’s successor at Southeastern, said at the dedication ceremony, “For years we have wanted to honor the Pattersons and say ‘thank you’ for their incredible legacy from having spent 11 years here. Good things at Southeastern Seminary can be traced back to them.”

Akin added, “When I first started here, people asked me, ‘What will you do?’ I answered, ‘Nothing.’ Why stop a locomotive heading in the right direction?”

Construction of Patterson Hall on the west side of the historic campus was begun in October 2006. The building encompasses classrooms, faculty offices, space for the doctor of ministry, doctor of philosophy and doctor of education programs and the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture.

In addition to its modern interior and technological advancements, the building’s exterior fits with Southeastern’s architectural style. “You see before you what amounts to a glove fit,” Wake Forest commissioner Frank Drake said. “This is a jewel in the crown of Wake Forest. You can’t tell that this building hasn’t been here as long as the campus has.”

“To say that I am so profoundly honored would be an understatement,” Patterson said when he addressed the hundreds attending the ceremony. “There is a part of me that could never leave Southeastern Seminary and Wake Forest. There is a very real part of Mrs. Patterson and I that remains here.”

Thanking many people who made his administration at Southeastern possible, those who supported him as president of the SBC and those who gave financially to the building of Patterson Hall, Patterson said, “What I’m saying is, even though it has my name on it, it’s your building.

“It’s not what any of us built,” Patterson said, “but what God builds. May He bless this place one million times over. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.”

Akin, referencing Southeastern’s capital campaign for the building, noted, “Within the year, this entire project will be paid in full with no indebtedness. We could only do that with friends who will provide the funding…. Thank you for believing in us.”

SWBTS UNDERSCORES NORTH AMERICAN CHURCH PLANTING — A call to serve across North America through church planting efforts was sounded at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary by state and national denominational representatives during North American Church Planting Week Sept. 29-Oct. 3.

In addition to chapel messages and testimonies, church planters spoke in various classes and roundtable discussions at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

Charles Lyons, pastor of Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago, challenged students in his chapel message to reject selfish ministry aspirations. “Die to self. Die to your suburban Bible Belt self. Die to your professional ministry self. Carry the dying of Jesus to a needy city,” Lyons said in a message drawn from on 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.

The contemporary equivalent to the 2 Corinthians reference to “jars of clay” would be a Wal-Mart bag, Lyons said, noting that it is common and insignificant. What is amazing, he said, is that God chooses to put “an all-surpassing power in an unlikely container.”

Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Humble, Texas, charged future church planters to focus on three essential principles in their ministry: “Tell them about Jesus, teach the Word of God and pray.” Lino’s church uses the principles as the foundation of their church and the various churches they have planted, including The Cross Baptist Church in Crowley, Texas, pastored by Lewis Richerson, a Southwestern Ph.D. student. Richerson, in a chapel testimony, encouraged students to remember that new churches are still needed in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, where less than 20 percent of the population attends an evangelical church.

WMU LEADER VISITS GOLDEN GATE — “God desires each of us to embrace His unique call for our lives,” Wanda Lee, executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union, told students, faculty and staff at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary Oct. 9.

Lee recounted four key times in her life when she heard God’s call.

“The first time was the call to faith as a child; the second was when I was in nursing school in my 20s,” Lee said.

“The third time was when my husband and I took the Gospel to the nations as a missions call,” she continued, referencing their former service as Southern Baptist missionaries in St. Vincent, Windward Islands. “A missions call is not to a place or country,” Lee noted, “but to a people.”

Lee then heard God’s call to leadership at WMU. “I became an equipper of others who are embarking on that missions journey,” she said. “I can give back to the organization that gave so much to me, and at this point in my life I can contribute in this way to help change the world.”

“What and how is He calling you?” Lee asked her audience at Golden Gate’s Mill Valley, Calif., campus.

“You’re more astute to hearing God’s voice more than ever at this point in you life,” she said, adding, “God creates the bump in our known and comfortable path to make us hear his call.”

NEW ORLEANS LAUNCHES APOLOGETICS INSTITUTE — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has launched its Institute for Christian Apologetics and a School for Christian Apologetics to equip believers for the casual and intentional challenges to contemporary Christianity common in today’s culture.

“The fundamental purpose why we do this is not to build an institute but to train people to be more effective in carrying out the Great Commission,” said New Orleans professor Bob Stewart, who will direct the institute along with his colleague Mike Edens.

Stewart said the institute will offer apologetics training through conferences and events, develop resources for churches and ministers, facilitate an online apologetics journal, and coordinate evangelism trips involving apologetics.

The institute’s first event, “Defend the Faith: A School of Christian Apologetics,” is set for Jan. 11-16.

“We’re going to bring in very good scholars, including Paul Copan, Gary Habermas, Michael Licona and James Walker,” Stewart said. Biographical information about all 13 conference speakers is available on the event’s website. Topics covered at the school will include cults and the occult, postmodernism and Christianity, science and Christianity, the historical Jesus and world religions.

Stewart said seminary credit will be available for students who attend the conference. Students will be able to earn up to six hours of credit and will have five courses from which to choose.

Edens noted that the School for Christian Apologetics and the seminary’s annual Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum in Faith and Culture will complement each other. The Greer-Heard Forum features an evangelical scholar and a non-evangelical scholar in dialogue over crucial issues in philosophy, science, religion and culture from differing perspectives. The next topic for Greer-Heard is pluralism.

Registration for the conference is available at www.defendthefaith.net.

LEAVELL TRIBUTE APPEARS IN MAGAZINE — Landrum P. Leavell II, the longest-serving president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, has been honored with a special remembrance in the fall issue of the school’s alumni magazine, released Oct. 16.

Leavell, who died Sept. 26, was remembered with a memorial service on the seminary campus Oct. 7. The latest issue of Vision magazine devotes the cover and four pages of the issue to Leavell’s legacy. He served as the seminary’s president from 1975-95.

Leavell was a fixture in Southern Baptist life, serving as president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas from 1971-73 and as first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1968, as well as other posts on the state and national level. He also served as pastor of churches in Mississippi and Texas before being named president at New Orleans.

The edition is available to the public. Requests for free copies of the magazine can be made by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling 504-816-8003.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston and BP staff writer Erin Roach from reports by Lauren Crane at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Keith Collier of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Phyllis Evans of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; and Michael McCormack of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

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