News Articles

EDUCATION DIGEST: Jeff Struecker joins SEBTS faculty; Hankins highlights La. College heritage; Marvin Watson, former DBU president, dies

Jeff Struecker, Scott Pace, Ronjour Locke join SEBTS faculty

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Military veteran and pastor Jeff Struecker has been appointed to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s faculty as assistant professor of Christian leadership.

Also joining the faculty are Scott Pace of Oklahoma Baptist University and Ronjour Locke, a pastor in urban Baltimore, as fulltime preaching professors.

Struecker, who received his Ph.D. from Southeastern in 2015, is lead pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ga., and will remain in the pastorate while teaching at Southeastern.

Struecker’s role will include teaching graduate and doctoral intensives. He will co-teach his first Ph.D. seminar in January.

Southeastern President Danny Akin said Struecker, a decorated Army Ranger and inductee into the Ranger Hall of Fame, “knows by training and experience the importance of wise and strategic leadership.”

Students in Struecker’s classes “will greatly benefit from the insights and wisdom of this godly man and national hero,” Akin said.

Struecker has more than 22 years of military service, 10 years of which were served as private and platoon sergeant in the 75th Ranger Regiment. During his time of service in Somalia, Struecker surrendered his life to the Lord and decided to become a chaplain in the Airborne and Ranger units, which he served for the last 10 years of his military career.

His military experience includes operations such as Black Hawk Down in Somalia, Operation Desert Storm and more than a dozen tours throughout Afghanistan and Iraq. He was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in June, an honor accorded to deceased or out of service Rangers for at least three years who have served in a Ranger unit during combat and have graduated from a U.S. Army Ranger course.

Struecker, in looking forward to teaching students how to become more effective leaders, said he believes the church “deserves the best leaders in the world, not just marginal leaders, so I hope I can make an investment.”

In seeking to show students what it means to lead in a “God-honoring, biblically appropriate way,” Struecker noted, “All leadership boils down to dealing with people and you have to really understand yourself and people if you want to lead effectively.”

Struecker has written five books. He and his wife Dawn have five children, Aaron, Jacob, Joseph, Abigail and Lydia.

The new preaching professors, Scott Pace and Ronjour Locke, are “faithful expositors and churchmen,” Akin said. “Their passion for Christ, the Great Commission, the Word of God and the lost make them a perfect fit for Southeastern.”

Pace, who received his master of divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southeastern, has been named associate professor of preaching and pastoral ministry and associate director for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership. He will begin his position June 1, 2018.

Pace has taught at a number of institutions, including OBU in Shawnee where he currently serves as associate professor of applied ministry and the Hughes Chair of Christian ministry. Pace has served in pastoral ministry since 2000 and academic administration since 2005. He and his wife Dana have four children, Gracelyn, Tyler, Tessa and Cassie.

OBU President David Whitlock, expressing appreciation for Pace’s contribution to OBU, said, “A winsome witness for Christ, Scott has made a huge difference at OBU and leaves us stronger and better for his service here. I will personally miss him but am excited for his new opportunities for ministry at our sister institution, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.”

Locke, who received his M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been named instructor of preaching and urban ministry, beginning Jan. 1.

Keith Whitfield, dean of graduate studies at SEBTS, said Locke “is passionate about training students to be able to teach the Bible in any and every context that God sends them. Ronjour comes to us with ministry experience from an urban context, which will be a great asset for the training and equipping of our students.”

Locke formerly was pastor of First Baptist Church in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Baltimore and currently is pursuing a Ph.D. at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Annnie have four children: Joshua, Noah, Mikaiya and Naomi.


Hankins on Louisiana College: convictions, prayer, cooperation

PINEVILLE, La. (BP) — For David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, three factors regarding Louisiana College come to mind: the primacy of convictions, the prayer of Christians and the power of cooperation.

Louisiana College was founded in 1916 and today is supported by Louisiana Baptists not merely to have “a fine institution of higher education,” Hankins told President’s Club supporters during LC’s homecoming, or to “give young people an excellent education” because those distinctions would make LC only one among many higher education institutions.

Convictions that began and sustain Louisiana College include “the fact that there is a God in heaven who made this universe, who made us, who has a purpose for our lives, and who has revealed himself to us ultimately through His Son, Jesus Christ,” Hankins said.

God has a “message for us that can redeem us from our sins and bring the Kingdom of heaven to come to pass on this earth. That’s why this institution exists,” he noted. Other institutions that don’t have such goals “work pretty hard to disabuse children that come from faithful families of those notions of belief in God, in truth, in absolutes, and the belief in morality.”

Louisiana College “reaffirms and strengthens” the values that faithful parents instill in their children, Hankins said, while students who come to LC without such values “have the opportunity to hear them and come to faith in Christ.”

Regarding prayer of Christians, Hankins said Louisiana College is a “spiritual enterprise” that faces a “spiritual battle.” Thankful for the prayers of the Louisiana Baptist family and others, Hankins referenced the admonition of the apostle Paul in Ephesian 6:18: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

“I hope you are a prayer warrior for Louisiana College, for [LC President] Dr. [Rick] Brewer, the administration, faculty and students,” Hankins said in his Oct. 13 remarks.

And the power of cooperation is key to Louisiana Baptists, Hankins said, noting Proverbs 30:27, “The locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks.”

Baptists have no earthly king, but “there is power when we lock arms and work together,” he said. “We see great things done for the sake of the Kingdom of God.”

Nearly 15 cents of every dollar given to the Cooperative Program supports Louisiana College, Hankins said. “Louisiana Baptists believe in Louisiana College and we say so through our giving. We cooperate together and do what one church and one small group couldn’t do by themselves.”

While large one-time monetary gifts can accomplish many needful things, Hankins said, “Don’t ever gainsay … that widow’s mite, that part that you can do with the means God has given you. There is power in cooperation.”

Brewer said he is “grateful for a denominational leader like Dr. Hankins, who will champion the cause of Louisiana College and our other LBC entities.”

“I am also grateful for the ‘power of cooperation’ as noted by Dr. Hankins, and our students are too,” Brewer said. “We often remind students that, without CP support, their education would cost $3,000 more per year. The Louisiana College family remains deeply grateful for our Louisiana Baptist family’s support through the Cooperative Program.”

Brewer also underscored the college’s “differentiating value proposition” that its curricula is “built upon a Christian worldview. This is what faith integration is all about. We are grateful for those who lock arms with us and move forward in ranks as we fulfill our vision of preparing graduates and transforming lives.”

Also at Louisiana College, trustees voted unanimously in their Oct. 30 meeting to offer free tuition to dependents of missionaries serving with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.

“We are honored to assist our IMB families who make such a sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel around the world,” said trustee chairman Randy Harper, pastor of Bellaire Baptist Church in Bossier City, La. “Though the eternal rewards of such servants are in heaven, we all have a responsibility to help meet the temporal needs of those who leave the familiarity of home to brave the foreign fields of ministry.”

Brewer noted, “The addition of missionaries’ dependents to our student body will enrich our campus culture and literally ‘flesh-out’ the reality of what it means to be on mission with God.

“For those students who have never served on an overseas or stateside mission trip, the concept of missions is just that: conceptual. But with the children of missionaries among our student body, missionary service becomes much more tangible,” Brewer noted.

“Our Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 for the cause of missions,” he said. “Louisiana College wants to do its part in not only training students to become missionaries, but to support the families who already are. Far beyond being an obligation, this is a privilege and a joy.”

IMB President David Platt voiced thanks to the college “for providing this option of a strong Christian college education alongside financial provision to make that education possible.”

“At the International Mission Board, we seriously consider the support we provide to Southern Baptists who take the Gospel to unreached people and places around the world. Part of that support includes the care of our missionaries’ children — the ‘third culture kids’ (or TCKs) who live out ministry with their parents in other nations.”

Platt said just one week earlier IMB staff had prayed “specifically for the college-age TCKs who will spend the upcoming holidays away from their families and their adopted homes overseas. Needless to say, then, I was thrilled when I heard that Louisiana College made this decision to help provide for the higher education needs of Southern Baptist missionary families.”


Marvin Watson, former DBU president, dies

DALLAS (BP) – W. Marvin Watson Jr., a former aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson and postmaster general who later became president of Dallas Baptist University, died Nov. 26 at his Houston-area home at the age of 93.

Watson was named president of then-Dallas Baptist College in 1979 and remained in that role until 1987. During his tenure, the university expanded its student body and achieved university status, offering its first master’s level classes in 1985. Watson also presented DBU’s first honorary doctorate to Billy Graham that same year.

Watson and Johnson first met in 1948 when Watson, a World War II veteran, was studying business at Baylor University and Johnson was campaigning for the U.S. Senate, according to the Washington Post. Before going to the White House, Watson was an executive at Lone Star Steel Co. in Dallas, a deacon in a Southern Baptist church and, as the Post put it, “a behind-the-scenes force in Texas Democratic politics.”

Johnson once called Watson, who served as his appointments secretary for three years in the office closest to the president, “the most efficient man I have ever known” who was “as wise as my father, gentle as my mother and loyal to my side as Lady Bird.” Johnson later appointed Watson as postmaster general. When LBJ died in 1973, Lady Bird Johnson asked Watson to deliver the eulogy at his state funeral.

Watson entered Baylor on a music scholarship but left to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II, subsequently returning to Baylor and receiving a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in economics in 1950.

Watson is survived by his wife Marion, whom he met at Baylor; daughter Kim Rathmann and sons William III and Winston; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

    About the Author

  • SBC Seminary, Baptist College & BP Staff

    Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by the communications staff of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Julie Owens of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Sarah Carr of Northeastern Baptist College; and Kathy Dean of the University of Mobile.

    Read All by SBC Seminary, Baptist College & BP Staff ›