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Faculty retirees conclude 208 years at Southwestern

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Gratitude for the privilege of helping young people prepare for ministry was a common sentiment expressed during a May 8 chapel honoring seven faculty members retiring from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

The retirees, who served a combined 208 years, include one acting president, three vice presidents, one dean, one provost, two theology professors, three educational ministries professors and one music professor.

William B. Tolar, C.W. Brister, Hazel Morris, C.L. Bass, Jerry Privette, Scotty Gray and Lawrence Klempnauer all said retirement was not only an end, but also a beginning.

“We live our lives in chapters, and the creative God who called us may call us to several different chapters in our lives,” Bass, distinguished professor of music theory and composition, said. “This is the end of one chapter for me, but it is the beginning of another chapter.”

Bass was elected to the faculty in 1977, having previously taught at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla.

“Those of us who have worked with C.L. Bass know him to have the heart of a disciple and the soul of a poet,” said Benjamin Harlan, dean of the school of church music.

“I am honored by the students who have come through my classroom, who have loved me and allowed me to love them,” said Morris, associate professor of childhood education. “I am excited about all that God will do with me in the future. This is just a stepping stone.”

Morris has been teaching at Southwestern since 1971. She was previously an elementary school teacher.

“I count it a real privilege to have had the opportunity to serve the Lord here at Southwestern,” said Privette, professor of educational ministries field education. “I appreciate the inspiration that students have given me.”

Privette came to Southwestern in 1980. He had been a pastor, minister of education, psychology instructor and a supervisor with the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay Christian Resources).

“There is more to look forward to than to look back upon,” said Brister, who retires as the W.C. Hultgren Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Care and coordinator for the Center for Ministry Empowerment.

“I am obeying [God’s] call in redirection, not retirement,” said Brister, who has served under four seminary presidents beginning with J. Howard Williams in 1957.

“The Latin word for ‘seminary’ means ‘seed plot.’ You have sown well the seeds of pastoral care in a great theological nursery for half a century,” David Crutchley, dean of the school of theology, said about Brister.

Tolar, distinguished professor of biblical backgrounds, quoted Genesis 29:20: “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.”

“Thirty-six years — 46 years — have seemed but a few days because of the love that I have for teaching,” Tolar said. He has been at Southwestern since 1965, serving as dean of the school of theology, vice president for academic affairs, provost and acting president. He taught at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, for 10 years before coming to Southwestern.

“I have spent most of my 67 years directly associated with this institution, and I can’t think of any higher honor than to be associated with this place with its great cause,” said Gray, vice president for academic administration.

“There is no greater encourager than Scotty Gray,” Harlan said. Gray has served on faculty in the school of church music since 1966 and has been in his current position since 1990.

Klempnauer retired as vice president for student services at the end of the fall semester after serving at Southwestern for 20 years.

“Dr. Klempnauer developed the student services division at Southwestern,” said Daryl Eldridge, dean of the school of educational ministries. “When you need something done, you call him.”

Each retiree was honored with a slideshow and presented a commemorative clock by seminary President Kenneth S. Hemphill.

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  • Tony Imms