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FROM THE COLLEGES: Criswell, Louisiana College, UMobile, Union Univ., Campbellsville

EDITOR’S NOTE: “From the Colleges” includes news stories and news releases of interest as written and edited from Southern Baptist-affiliated universities and colleges or state Baptist newsjournals.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Today’s edition of From the Colleges includes articles from Criswell College, Louisiana College, University of Mobile, Union University and Campbellsville University.

Criswell to expand curriculum,
explore residential campus

DALLAS — Criswell College trustees have approved a university-model curriculum expansion and voted to explore the possibility of a residential campus.

The transition marks an “expanded vision” of founder W.A. Criswell and not a redirection of the college’s legacy in biblically committed Christian education, Criswell President Jerry Johnson noted.

“For over 40 years, Criswell College has trained biblically passionate men and women to lead in church ministry and denominational service,” Johnson said. “Next year, we will introduce an expanded curriculum that will bring full-circle W.A. Criswell’s dream of equipping leaders of all vocations to carry out their chosen profession or ministry through the Word of God, a Christian worldview, and a strong Christian witness.”

Johnson said the expanded curriculum, approved by trustees Oct. 4, will be initiated by the faculty and approved by the board, enabling the college to educate more men and women for “real-world ministry.”

“Our vision is to train biblical leaders in strategic disciplines and charge them to impact every area of life with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” he said.

In addition to its undergraduate and graduate ministerial programs, Criswell will offer professional degrees in business, law, communication and education.

“We will continue to do what we’ve done best — preparing leaders for the church,” Johnson said. “But with an expanded curriculum we will be able to prepare leaders for the world — for the world of journalism, for the world of communications, for the world of politics.”

To facilitate the curriculum expansion, trustees also considered adding a residential campus. A committee to be selected by Johnson and board chairman Jimmy Pritchard will present trustees with a final site selection by the 2013 fall board meeting. Pritchard pastors First Baptist Church in Forney, Texas.

“We believe we must do more to strengthen our churches to confront secular culture with the profound truth of the Word of God,” said Criswell trustee academic committee chairman Thomas Hatley, noting the college’s reputation of producing biblically committed pastors during a time of denominational upheaval. Hatley pastors Immanuel Baptist Church in Rogers, Ark.

“In the same way we had to stand in the gap to train men to be great leaders of our convention during the conservative resurgence, we now want to train leaders who can lead our nation in some of the key areas of life,” Hatley said.

“An expanded curriculum and new residential campus will allow us to fulfill Criswell’s original vision, bringing similar biblical revolution to the work place and to secular environments.”

For more information about Criswell College visit www.criswell.edu.


Court rules again in favor
of Louisiana College in lawsuit
By Kelly Boggs/Baptist Message

PINEVILLE, La. — Judge Mary Lauve Doggett of the Ninth Judicial District Court in Louisiana has upheld an earlier decision that granted Louisiana College the right to determine the content of the school’s faith curriculum.

Doggett’s previous ruling, rendered March 27, was appealed by plaintiffs Carlton L. Winbery, Fredrick L. Downing, James R. Heath and Connie R. Douglas. The former LC professors had sued the college alleging loss of academic freedom and infliction of emotional distress. Judge Doggett’s Sept. 14 ruling dismisses all claims made by the professors.

In rejecting the appeal, Doggett reaffirmed her previous position in the case. In the March ruling the judge wrote: “Under the establishment Clause [of the U.S. Constitution], the consideration is whether the issues which the Court will have to resolve will necessarily turn upon competing interpretations of religion, thus resulting in the Court becoming entangled in an ecclesiastical dispute.”

Doggett continued, “The ‘Entanglement Doctrine’ provides that a court must decline jurisdiction over a lawsuit when the dispute is so intertwined with matters of religion that a proper resolution cannot be made without interpreting or choosing between competing religious principles or doctrines. …

“[T]he court finds that this suit is so intertwined with matters of religion that a proper resolution could not be made herein without interpreting or choosing between competing religious principles or doctrine,” the judge observed.

“Thus, any claim for breach of the agreement, violations of the Handbook and/or By-laws, and/or emotional infliction of emotional distress that arises out of the conflict is beyond the scope of this court’s jurisdiction,” Doggett wrote.

In the final paragraph of her ruling, Doggett concluded, “Considering all the evidence, including deposition testimony of the plaintiffs, it is clear this litigation arises out of a dispute over Baptist Theology. The plaintiffs candidly testified that their errant view of the Bible was in conflict with the inerrant beliefs of the LC administration and, at least in part, with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”

New Orleans attorney Ted LeClerq, who represented LC for the seven-year journey of the case, said the court made a landmark decision.

“While the plaintiff’s legal claims were drawn in the language of contract and tort claims, the reality of the dispute was a disagreement about faith, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and values,” LeClerq said, according to a LC press release. “Thus the court said these religious matters were reserved for decision to Louisiana College as a private religious institution.”


Tim Tebow to address
UMobile banquet

MOBILE, Ala. -– The University of Mobile has scheduled NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow for the 8th annual University of Mobile Leadership Banquet.

“A Conversation with Tim Tebow” will be held April 18, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center in downtown Mobile.

UMobile’s annual leadership banquets, which raise financial support for the university’s annual academic scholarship fund, feature a speaker of national prominence who uses his or her influence to open doors of opportunity for the next generation of leaders.

Previous speakers have included former President George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, former Georgia Gov. and retired U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Brian Boyle, UMobile vice president for institutional advancement, described Tebow as “a proven leader both on and off the football field.” His collegiate career at the University of Florida culminated in two national championships and his selection as the Heisman Trophy’s first sophomore recipient.

A first-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, Tebow burst onto the national stage as he led the franchise to the 2011 NFL Playoffs for the first time in six years. Now he plays for the New York Jets.

In 2010, he founded The Tim Tebow Foundation, which is partnering with CUREInternational to build hospitals in the Philippines. In addition to Tebow CURE Hospitals, the foundation also grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses and is building playrooms in hospitals and orphanages, among other far-reaching charitable works.

The public’s fascination with Tebow spreads far beyond the gridiron. He has more than 1.8 million Facebook subscribers and 1.5 million Twitter followers, and his NewYork Times bestselling memoir, “Through My Eyes,” was named the No. 1 Sports Book of 2011. He also was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2012.

Information about the banquet is available at www.umobile.edu/banquet2013 or by calling the university at 251-442-2917.


Gates at Union: Influence abroad
depends on character at home

JACKSON, Tenn. — Despite a sobering analysis of affairs in such places as China and the Middle East, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said at Union University he remains “fundamentally optimistic” about the future of the United States.

“Even though the United States faces enormous obstacles, most of them are self-inflicted, and we also have the power and the means to overcome them, just as America has done in the past,” Gates said Oct. 4 at Union’s 15th annual scholarship banquet in Jackson, Tenn. “It will take real leadership, political will, shared sacrifice and a willingness to compromise.”

Gates, who served as defense secretary for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was the keynote speaker at the banquet which raised about $500,000 for student scholarships.

Prior to his role leading the Defense Department, Gates was president of Texas A&M University for four years. He served in the Central Intelligence Agency for nearly 27 years, including nine years at the National Security Council. He was CIA director from 1991-93. Gates now serves as chancellor of the College of William and Mary.

With a background in higher education, Gates talked about the influence that institutions like Union University can have in the lives of young people.

While some Union graduates could become important business and political leaders or make other noteworthy contributions, Gates said that for most Union students, their experience at the university “is an important step toward the most important goal of all — becoming a good man or woman, a person of faith, integrity and decency, a person of moral courage, not afraid of hard work, of strong character, the kind of person who built this country and made it into the greatest democracy and the greatest economic powerhouse in the history of the world.”

Union prepares its graduates to live lives based on unchanging values, Gates said, such as faith, trustworthiness, loyalty, honesty and kindness – characteristics that are often in short supply today, with too many people seeking riches and power without regard to doing what’s right or decent.

Gates spent the bulk of his address focusing on global issues of importance. He said that anxiety about the upcoming presidential election is in order because of the high stakes involved, and acknowledged that a majority of Americans have lost faith in the nation’s governing institutions.

But while many Americans are largely focused on domestic problems, Gates said the rest of the world is becoming more complex and more turbulent all the time.

He discussed the impact of China on global trade and the security implications of China’s growth. China, Gates said, is investing trillions of dollars in new military capabilities and technologies that could alter the balance of power in the Pacific.

“Yet in spite of China’s continuing growth and growing influence, its leadership continues to exhibit paranoia and hypersensitivity to the smallest international criticism or internal political challenge,” Gates said. “I believe that’s because China’s leaders are keenly aware that the country’s bullish macroeconomic numbers conceal major underlying weaknesses.”

Among those weaknesses, Gates cited China’s dependence upon exports that are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain and a middle class that is growing more politically engaged and more intolerant of rampant corruption in the governing class.

Though the United States has reasons to be concerned about various situations in China, Gates said there was no “geostrategic reason” for China to be an enemy.

“If we treat China as an enemy, it will surely become one,” he warned. Gates also addressed developments with the Iranian nuclear program, which Israel sees as a more direct and immediate threat than the United States does. Though Israel doesn’t have the military capabilities to destroy all of Iran’s buried nuclear facilities at a long range, he said the Israelis may feel compelled to strike, an event that could have tragic consequences.

“Let there be no mistake,” he said. “An Israeli attack would be seen in the region and in the Muslim world more broadly as being sanctioned and underwritten by the United States, with the same consequences that would attach to a direct American strike.” Even with all the challenges facing the United States both domestically and internationally, Gates said whether the nation sustains its global, economic, political and military preeminence will depend not on the actions of other countries, but on the actions of Americans themselves.

“It will depend on our character as a people, the sacrifices we are willing to accept and the courage and unity we demonstrate,” Gates said. “I believe we will prove worthy.”

Previous scholarship banquet speakers at Union have included George H.W. Bush, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice, Mikhail Gorbachev, Laura Bush, Rudolph Giuliani and Colin Powell. All told, Union’s Scholarship Banquets have generated about $5.5 million for student scholarships.


Campbellsville hears about
transformational church
By Staff

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — A Transformational Church Summit, sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources and the Kentucky Baptist Convention, was held Sept. 27-28 at Campbellsville University.

Campbellsville President Michael V. Carter, in welcoming 250 participants from across the country to the Kentucky campus, noted that part of the mission of university is to empower the local church.

Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay and the opening session’s speaker, recounted, “I was going to be one of the best Christian witnesses in the business world. There’d never been a vocational minister in the family so I couldn’t understand why God was calling a Rainer — there were lots of better speakers, preachers, teachers.

“Then I discovered God was not interested in my resume, but in my obedience.

“I love pastors, they give their hearts and works to the community,” Rainer said. “They start building the house of God and something happens … a little criticism here, some division there, and after a while the pastor starts to wonder, ‘Can I keep on going? Is it worth it?’

“No matter what phase of life you are in, God is not done with you yet,” Rainer said. “God wants to use you as a transformational partner.”

In the summit’s second general session, Rainer noted that church members who read the Bible daily, as a result, share their faith more, spend more time in prayer, give more and walk with Christ in the spirit of humility more. “If I could go back, I would create accountability in the church by getting church members in the Word more,” he said.

“Couples in the Word together have healthier relationships. Small groups meeting outside Sunday School classes have healthier Sunday School groups,” Rainer said.

“As a church leader, I would encourage everyone to be in the Word of God daily and move people to Sunday School or other small groups. This is how transformational discipleship in small communities will take place.”

Shane Garrison, Campbellsville assistant professor of educational ministries, moderated the next session of the summit when Dan Garland, LifeWay’s director of pastoral ministries and church consulting, and John Mark Toby, pastor of Beacon Hill Baptist Church in Somerset, Ky., discussed working with a transformational church.

One challenge facing Beacon Hill was that it had 67 ministry teams. “They had too much going on,” Garland said. But, following consultation from LifeWay, the church decided to focus on fewer things.

“We focused on discipleship and Bible study,” Toby said. “Christ calls us to be disciples.” He quoted Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Toby told the audience teaching and preaching the Word is how to make disciples, noting, “Everybody is a disciple of someone but not all are transformed.” Following Jesus is the call and path for transformation from good people to servants, the pastor said. “People want a free ticket to discipleship, but following Him is the way,” he said. “To make disciples, we have to be one. There aren’t that many red-hot Christians on fire for the Lord.”

Rusty Ellison, pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., closed out the Transformational Church Summit’s fourth and final general session, beginning with a verse from Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons” — “And on that day when my strength is failing. The end draws near and my time has come. Still my soul will sing your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forevermore.”

Ellison asked, “When our strength is failing and we can perceive no hope will we praise His name?”

Ellison referenced to John 12:24-25, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Anyone acting in service to God can expect opposition, Ellison said, noting, “When you begin to lead the way God wants you to lead, you better expect to face opposition. Often times it can even come from the ones you love dearly.”

But he said, “The transformational church must be led by a transformational leader who loves and believes God enough to give his life to the cause.”

You may have to lead people who don’t want to be led, Ellison said.

“Many of our churches today don’t see what they are missing,” he said. “God isn’t done with the local church today.”

Acknowledging that the church is in need of transformational leadership, Ellison said, “Courageous leadership is what we need, but the hand of God is upon you so that He can work through you. Have the courage to obey.”

The summit also included breakout sessions with Charles Grant Jr., with LifeWay’s urban and black church partnership; Toby; Garrison and Garland.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.

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