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FROM THE COLLEGES: Merritt to headline 3rd West Tenn. Evangelism Rally; Finn named N. Greenville provost

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — James Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., will be the keynote speaker for the third annual West Tennessee Evangelism Rally March 4 at Union University.

Ernest Easley, professor of evangelism at Union and organizer of the event, said the rally aims to strengthen and equip churches in evangelism and outreach.

“My hope is that, through this rally, people in our churches across West Tennessee will become more soul-conscious, better equipped than they were before to share the Gospel and will be encouraged and inspired to do it,” Easley said.

Merritt is a previous president of the Southern Baptist Convention and has written several books, including the popular “52 Weeks” devotional series. He will preach at both of the rally’s main sessions.

The rally also will include dinner and two breakout sessions. The breakout sessions will cover such topics as “Apologetics and Evangelism” and “Sharing Jesus in Times of Suffering.” Travis Cottrell, worship leader at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, will lead music.

This year, the rally will include a youth track and women’s track, with breakout sessions specially designed for these groups. Easley said these tracks will broaden the scope of the rally to encourage laypeople to attend as well as pastors. He said he is particularly excited to include more young people this year.

“If we can start training our students at a young age, they’ll be more apt to be a witness for Christ the rest of their lives,” he said.

The rally will begin at 3:30 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m. More information and online registration is available at uu.edu/events/wter. Registration is free, but space is limited. The registration deadline is Feb. 26. The event is sponsored by Union University and the Tennessee Baptist Convention.


Nathan Finn named N. Greenville provost & dean of faculty

TIGERVILLE, S.C. (BP) — Nathan A. Finn has been named as North Greenville University’s chief academic officer, effective June 1, with the title of provost and dean of the university faculty. Finn currently serves as dean of the school of theology and missions and professor of theological studies at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

Randall J. Pannell, NGU’s current vice president for academic affairs, will be returning to a faculty role as professor of Christian ministries and special assistant to the provost.

Finn has served at Union since 2015 and previously taught church history at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for eight years. He has published numerous books and scholarly essays on topics such as Baptist history, theology and spirituality. Recent books include “A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards” (Crossway, 2017); “History: A Student’s Guide” (Crossway 2016); and “The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement” (B&H Academic 2015).

Finn serves as a research fellow for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves on the editorial board of the 16-volume series The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller.

NGU is a special place for Finn. It was on the campus in 1997 during a Centrifuge camp that he committed his life to Jesus Christ.

“The Holy Spirit used the preaching of the camp pastor that week to cut me to the quick and convince me that my only hope for salvation was to cast myself upon the mercies of Christ,” he said. “This campus will always be holy ground for me.”

Finn holds a Ph.D. in theological studies and M.Div. from Southeastern and an undergraduate degree from Brewton-Parker College in Georgia.

“I love NGU’s longstanding commitment to Christ-centered education, and I resonate with the way a heart for evangelism and missions permeates the whole campus,” Finn said. “I’ve also long appreciated President [Gene] Fant’s vision for convictionally Baptist higher education. I look forward to working closely with the president, the faculty and the staff to foster a culture of intellectual discipleship that equips every NGU student to advance the Gospel and promote human flourishing in every discipline and profession.”

Finn and his wife Leah have four children.

Fant voiced appreciation to Pannell, saying his service as a senior administrator “has been exemplary. His passion for our Christ-first mission has been self-evident in each of the roles he’s held. I am personally grateful for his assistance in welcoming me as the university’s president this past year.”

Pannell said, “It has been my joy and great privilege to serve NGU as the vice president of academics, as well as stint as the interim president. I am filled with great anticipation as to the direction and growth of the university in the days ahead, first with the arrival of Dr. Fant as president and now with the opportunity to have Dr. Nathan Finn become our new provost and dean of the faculty.”