News Articles

EDUCATION DIGEST: Mobile pres. says personal revival precedes a national one

EDITOR’S NOTE: This compilation includes reports from the University of Mobile, Anderson University, Union University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–Individual Christians must experience a personal revival in order for a national spiritual revival to transform America and, ultimately, the world, Mark Foley, president of the University of Mobile, writes in a new book, “It’s Time.”

“It’s time to commit, to lead, to transform America,” Foley writes.

“The greatest threat to America sits in church pews every Sunday morning across the land,” he writes, noting that the danger lies with people who call themselves Christians but whose lives are no different from those who don’t profess faith in Jesus Christ.

Foley, president of the Baptist-affiliated Alabama university since 1998, is a former executive vice president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned a master of divinity and doctor of philosophy in psychology and counseling.

To start a spiritual revival, Foley writes that Christians must individually humble themselves, pray, seek God and turn from sin — the four requirements listed in 2 Chronicles 7:14 for God’s promise to heal the land.

“The weak link in the transformation of a nation is the individual Christian’s fulfillment of responsibility, not God’s response. God is faithful,” Foley writes.

The book includes a practical guide to fulfilling the four responsibilities and living a transformed life fully committed to God. Key to that life is using one’s influence as a committed Christian to take a stand and stop the nation’s slide from the things of God, Foley writes.

It is a call to action the Baptist university has issued through its new Center for Leadership and the Twelve23 Movement aimed at revitalizing Christian faith and character in America by the year 2020. The Twelve23 Movement is working to bring national attention to the goal of helping leaders in a variety of professions fulfill their responsibility to God as American citizens.

Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., and executive producer of Sherwood Pictures which created the movies “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” wrote the book’s forward, noting that its message “resonates in my heart as a clarion call to action.”

“We live in a time when we need men and women who are placed in strategic places of influence,” Catt writes. “Research and statistics tell us our nation is sliding into an abyss.” Foley “has given us solid, Biblically-based solutions,” Catt writes.

Foley said the book is the result of a process of thought that began several years ago with the birth of his first grandchild. As he held baby Avery in his arms, he thought about the world in which she will grow up.

“I see our nation drifting — in some cases running – away from the Christian principles that the Founding Fathers relied upon in creating our government. I see Christians all too ready to drift along as well, not willing to take a stand for the things of God. For the future of my grandchildren, for the future of our nation, it’s time to take a stand,”
Foley said.

Foley said a university is the prime place to start a movement to turn the tide in America.

“I realized that my time of influence and that of my generation is drawing to a close as we retire and move from positions of leadership,” Foley said, noting that men and women in college today or beginning their careers in the workplace are the ones who ultimately will guide the future of the nation.

“I am firmly convinced that the Lord has already started a cultural and spiritual restoration of our country,” Foley writes in the book. “As He leads, and as we follow on His terms, we can be part of that restoration,” Foley writes.

Foley’s book is available through amazon.com. For more information on the Twelve23 Movement, visit www.twelve23.org.

ANDERSON FACULTY’S BOOK EXAMINES MINISTRY CALL — Members of the Christian studies faculty at Anderson University in South Carolina have written “Now That You’ve Been Called to Ministry,” a resource for people who sense God’s call to vocational ministry. The book is available by request to any individual or church.

“We work with both young and older students who have sensed God’s call and want to know what they should do next,” said Michael Duduit, dean of Anderson’s College of Christian Studies, said.

“We couldn’t find many quality resources on that topic, so as a team we developed a book that we hope will be helpful to many who have sensed God’s call.”

The book includes the following chapters:

— “The Joy of Ministry” by Bob Cline, Anderson’s vice president for Christian life.

— “What is a Call to Ministry?” by Kristopher Barnett, assistant professor of Christian ministry and associate dean of the university’s Clamp Graduate School of Christian Ministry.

— “How Do You Know if You Are Called to Ministry?” by Chuck Fuller, assistant professor of Christian studies.

— “What the Bible Says About the Call to Ministry” by Bryan Cribb, assistant professor of Christian studies.

— “You’ve Been Called to Ministry: Now What?” by Ryan Neal, assistant professor of Christian studies and chair of undergraduate programs in the College of Christian Studies.

— “My Call to Ministry: Where Do I Go from Here?” by Michael Duduit, professor of Christian ministry and dean of the College of Christian studies.

“God is still calling out men and women to serve His church in many ways — as pastors, missionaries, church planters, in church staff roles and many other places of service,” Duduit said. “Our prayer is that this book will be a tool that church leaders can use in helping these God-called persons as they seek to follow God’s direction in finding and preparing for His place of service in their lives.”

Copies of the book are available by contacting Anderson University’s College of Christian Studies at [email protected], or by writing to the college at 316 Boulevard, Anderson, SC 29621. A PDF version of the book is available at www.auministry.com/thecallbook.pdf.

UNION MARKS 15 YEARS OF DOCKERY’S LEADERSHIP — Adorning the wall in the Carl Grant Events Center at Union University is a group of portraits of the presidents who have led the institution over the years.

In a rich institutional history, many of those names stand out. Joseph H. Eaton was among the first leaders who had a significant impact on the school’s future. George M. Savage, Union’s eighth president, was the first to occupy the J.R. Graves Professor of Theology and Moral Philosophy chair. John Jeter Hurt led Union through the Great Depression and World War II. Robert E. Craig presided over the move of the campus from downtown Jackson to its current north Jackson location.

In December, Union’s trustees added to the Wall of Presidents another portrait — that of David S. Dockery, elected to the position 15 years ago. Over that 15-year term, Dockery has guided Union University through one of the most impressive eras in its 187-year history.

The statistics alone are enough to garner attention.

— Fall enrollment in 1995 when Dockery was elected: 1,972. Fall enrollment in 2010: 4,186.

— Donors in 1995: 2,000. Donors in 2010: 6,000.

— Budget in 1995: $18 million. Budget in 2010: $81 million.

— Number of seven-figure gifts in university history in 1995: two. Number of seven-figure gifts since then: 18.

“Those are pretty amazing accomplishments,” said Rod Parker, chairman of Union’s board of trustees. “And the fact that he’s been able to grow the university the way it’s grown and maintain its financial strength is phenomenal.”

Then there’s the way Dockery has transformed the Union campus. Buildings such as Jennings Hall, Hammons Hall, White Hall, Providence Hall, Miller Tower, the Carl Grant Events Center, the Fesmire Field House and the Bowld Student Commons did not exist in 1995. Neither did Union’s campuses in Germantown and Hendersonville, Tenn.

Dockery also provided visionary leadership to the university during its darkest hours following a Feb. 5, 2008, tornado that ravaged the campus. The storm caused about $40 million in damage. But despite the wreckage, classes resumed only two weeks later, and only seven months later the university had rebuilt 14 student housing facilities that were demolished during and after the tornado.

John Drinnon served as chairman of Union’s board of trustees in 1995 and as chairman of the presidential search committee. He remembers how highly Dockery was recommended to his committee. At the time, Dockery was serving as vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“We had interviewed several that were recommended and were good people, but none that even compared to him,” Drinnon said. “We committed this to prayer. We felt fortunate to have the input of some very qualified people on our search committee. It was a wonderful experience. Many of us look back on that day as one of the highlights of our lives.”

Union Provost Carla Sanderson also served on the presidential search committee in 1995 and has worked closely with Dockery over the past 15 years.

“David Dockery is a humble and faithful servant of Jesus Christ who combines a yielded, godly spirit with a tenacious and tireless drive for excellence in everything he does,” Sanderson said. “There is no place like Union University — we know that and others do as well. What is here is genuine and real. We are not perfect, but we are a university that is led extraordinarily well by a man who has been faithful to his word and has been blessed as a leader because he has sought the blessing of a faithful God.”

One of Dockery’s first priorities upon assuming the presidency was to cast a vision for what Union University could become — a vision that included his desire for Union to reclaim and advance the great Christian intellectual tradition. Early in his tenure, the university adopted a set of four core values: Excellence-Driven, Christ-Centered, People-Focused, Future-Directed. Those core values have provided the framework for Union University over the past 15 years.

“Dr. Dockery isn’t afraid to get down in the trenches and work hard,” said Rich Grimm, Union’s senior vice president for enrollment services. “He casts vision and helps us see the horizon. He encourages us to dream and to reflect on what Union can be. And then he goes to work alongside us to make it happen.”

During his tenure, academic rigor has increased alongside the school’s commitment to its Christian mission and the physical development of the campus. Dockery is quick to credit others for such accomplishments.

“Dr. Dockery has been so successful because of where he remains focused — or, I should say, on whom he remains focused,” said Lisa Rogers, a Union trustee. “He has aimed higher and higher regarding academic standards at Union but has not compromised the commitment to Christ as so many other schools have. He gives God the glory and praise in everything, and I think that God has blessed him in that.”

Dockery often jokes that the search committee actually fell in love with his wife Lanese and wanted her as Union’s first lady. He says the trustees were willing to take him as a means of getting her. Jokes aside, Gene Fant, vice president for academic administration at Union, said Lanese Dockery as been invaluable to the university as well.

“No leader is successful without the support and encouragement of his wife,” Fant said. “Part of his sensitivity to things is due to her role as a primary adviser to his presidency.”

Fant pointed to another trait of Dockery that has helped him succeed: his joy in the success of others.

“He relishes making connections among people. He rejoices at helping faculty members find outlets for their scholarship and in following how students do as they leave Union. He takes genuine joy in these things, much as a father would in the successes of his own children.”

The Wall of Presidents has a new face among its esteemed membership, with Dockery taking his place among the faithful Union presidents of the past.

“I have great appreciation for the various chapters of Union’s rich heritage and history that are represented on this wall by these great leaders,” Dockery said. “I am humbled that my name has now been added to this significant list of people who have shaped the work of Union through the years.”

All the presidents have left their mark on Union, Dockery said, and Savage and Hurt in particular have become heroes for him as he has read Union’s history. Being associated with them and so many other Union presidents “in this picturesque way is more meaningful than I can express.”

Beyond that, Dockery said he can hardly believe that he has served a longer term than all but two of Union’s presidents since 1823.

“I can only offer thanks to God for the wonderful privilege that He has extended to Lanese and me to serve at Union at this time with such a dedicated board of trustees, with such gifted faculty, with such caring staff members and with such great students,” Dockery said. “We are truly thankful for the gracious and providential blessings that God has bestowed on this university.”

UNION ANNOUNCES SINGAPORE PARTNERSHIP — Union University has entered a three-year partnership with the Singapore Baptist Convention and the Baptist Theological Seminary of Singapore to help Baptist churches in Singapore in their efforts to reach the nations for Christ.

“It’s an unbelievable open door for the Gospel,” said David Dockery, president of Union University. “The Lord has given it to us and we need to be faithful stewards of the moment. It gives us a wide open door to follow through on our commitment as an institution to be a Great Commission university.”

The partnership agreement was officially announced by Dockery and representatives from Singapore visiting the Union campus last November. Though the initial length of the agreement is three years, Dockery said he expects the partnership to be extended and expanded after the first term.

“We are grateful for this partnership extended by Union University, particularly to our Baptist Theological Seminary,” said Peter Tang, executive director of the Singapore Baptist Convention. “It will really widen our ability to provide training for both those who aspire to be pastors as well as those who are already serving as pastors. We believe that this quality teaching and training from Union will really prepare our pastors to serve God to a higher level.”

Located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia, Singapore is an island city-state of 5.6 million people. Dockery said the city is expected to grow to 7 million inhabitants over the next 10 years. Singapore often is ranked as one of the top five financial centers in the world, with one of the world’s strongest economies.

The population is 75 percent Chinese and 15 percent Malay, with the remainder a mixture of Indian, Eurasian, Filipino and Indonesian. About 60 percent of the population is Buddhist, 15 percent Muslim, 14 percent Christian and 10 percent Hindu. Singapore has the fifth-highest per capita income in the world, with a small upper class, a large middle class and little poverty, Dockery said. About 90 percent of the residents are homeowners, and 95 percent of the people speak English.

Dockery traveled to Singapore last April, and the trip sparked his interest in a partnership between Union and Baptists there. The Baptist convention in Singapore consists of 36 fairly strong churches, with about 12,000 members. Baptist churches in Singapore largely began through the work of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. Though the convention is relatively young (the seminary began 21 years ago), the churches have matured and are actively involved in sending out their own missionaries.

The city is strategically located, with Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India and the Philippines all within just a few hours of travel time.

“If Asia is the future of the 21st century, Singapore is the open door to Asia,” Dockery said.

The partnership between Union and Singapore Baptists will include cooperation in such areas as faculty and student exchanges; academic program development; study tour opportunities for church leaders, faculty and students; collaborative research and seminars; promotion of church health, church growth and church planting; and evangelism and discipleship, Dockery said.

Through the partnership, Union also will provide degree programs for pastors in Singapore.

Richard Wells, Union’s vice president for church relations, will be the first Union faculty member to travel to Singapore as part of the partnership when he goes in July to teach a course at the seminary. Faculty members Hal and Mary Anne Poe are scheduled to teach there in the fall.

In addition to Tang, Choon Sam Fong, dean of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Singapore, and John Massey, an International Mission Board missionary to Singapore, were on hand for the announcement.

“It’s very encouraging to know that we have a larger, international network of brothers and sisters in Christ,” Fong said about the partnership. “We can do something together that will benefit not just the seminary or the university but Christian communities in Singapore, in Asia and maybe in the U.S. too.”

Dockery hailed the announcement as “a huge step forward for Union’s global commitments.”

“We’re looking forward to working with our Baptist friends in Singapore,” Dockery said, “and in helping to equip them to do their part in reaching the nations with the Gospel.”

SOUTHWESTERN INSTALLS CHAIR OF ORGAN — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, faculty and students set aside a chapel service to formally install professor Yoon-Mi Lim as the first Albert L. Travis Chair of Organ at Southwestern Seminary.

Travis, distinguished professor emeritus of organ, praised the instrument’s ability to support and uplift parishioners during congregational singing, in addition to its aesthetic appeal.

“The organ is an instrument of praise and prayer,” said Travis, who served the School of Church Music from 1977-2008. “The primary purpose for this kind of instrument is to help us focus our attention on God, whether through a quiet prelude or through a joyful introduction to a hymn.”

During the service last November, Travis expressed thanks for the continual ministry of alumna Kathryn Sullivan Bowld, whose commitment to music ministry and scholarship made the chair in his name possible. Initially entering seminary to train for evangelistic service as a revival pianist, Bowld earned her degree in organ in 1933 and returned to achieve her master of music in conducting in 1988.

Travis himself was one of the first holders of the Bowld organ scholarship, established in 1977 and one of the many ways Bowld supported her alma mater and future generations of music students. She is also the namesake of the Bowld Music Library, built in 1992.

Patterson built upon this worship-leading emphasis for the organ during his exposition of 1 Chronicles 16:1-7, noting that church organists, as well as other ministers of music for the local church, are to use music to commemorate, to thank and to praise God.

“For many years, the organ was the most complicated instrument ever built, of any kind, by human beings on the face of the earth. It was finally superseded, perhaps, by the complications of the telephone switchboard, but until then the most complicated single building on the face of the earth was the organ. Consequently, it is actually arguable [that] the ability to build an organ more exemplified the Imago Dei, the creative ability of being in the image of God, then anything else we had at our disposal.”

Lim expressed her appreciation for her new role as chair but chose to do so through music, performing the Fugue from “Prelude and Fugue on the name of Alain” by Maurice Duruflé. Lim holds her doctorate in music literature and performance from Indiana University, is the winner of numerous prestigious competitions for organ, keeps an active concert schedule and has music ministry experience both in the United States and in Korea.
Based on reports by Kathy Dean of the University of Mobile; Sara Horn of Anderson University; Tim Ellsworth of Union University; and Rebecca Carter of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    About the Author

  • Staff