FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – Adam W. Greenway, in his first convocation as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, continued the longstanding tradition of pronouncing the incoming class of students “Southwesterners.”
To emphasize the heritage of such a pronouncement, however, Greenway did not deliver the charge himself, but appealed to a historic figure from the seminary’s past: Robert Naylor, the seminary’s fifth president, who began the tradition during his presidency.
New students, joined by returning students and faculty, directed their attention to two screens at the front of MacGorman Chapel, which displayed a black-and-white photograph of the late president addressing a chapel audience. They then listened to a historic audio clip of Naylor pronouncing them Southwesterners.
“For good or ill, as long as you live, you’re a Southwesterner,” Naylor said in the clip from the seminary’s archives. “And I charge you before God that you make it in your own life a sacred name.
“It’s a name in the earth, as I’ve seen it across this world, that says something about how you feel about the Word of God: that it is God’s own unique Word. It says something about how you feel about lost people: that you care. It states a commitment on your part to the will of God in your own life.”
Naylor concluded, “You’ll not wear a more worthy name than that which I have given you today and which is made yours by your own choice. God bless you, my fellow Southwesterners.”
As students directed their attention back to Greenway, he said to them, “Indeed, as Dr. Naylor has said, I am pleased to pronounce you Southwesterners. Welcome home to the dome,” in a reference to the B.H. Carroll Memorial Building at the center of the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.
The Aug. 27 convocation at Southwestern and Scarborough College marked the beginning of the seminary’s 112th academic year since its founding in 1908. In addition to welcoming the new students, Greenway also set forth a threefold assignment from Jesus to the chapel audience, drawing from Mark 3:13-15.
Specifically, Greenway charged them to be with Jesus, to preach the Good News and to do the work of Christ.
“Our first priority is not just to complete our assignments on time and to make progress through our degree plans and all of these kinds of things,” Greenway said regarding this first point. “We are called to be with Him, because we can never be to and for others what we are not with Him.”
Wherever God calls them, Greenway continued, Christians are called to proclaim the Good News.
“Whatever your calling may be — as a faculty member, as a student, as a pastor — if you do not see your ministry as a ministry of helping people encounter Jesus in a life-changing and saving way, then there is something deficient in your understanding of calling,” Greenway said.
“We teach not just for the transmission of truth; we teach for the transformation of life. We teach so that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ might have a more faithful ministry, so that the things that have been revealed to us may be made known to a lost and dying world, to whom Christ came and for whom Christ died.”
Regarding Jesus granting His disciples authority to drive out demons, Greenway clarified that this means they as modern-day Christians have authority to do the work of Christ, which changes everything, including society itself.
“As we officially commence the 2019-2020 academic year of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Scarborough College, may, by God’s grace, this be our greatest year yet,” Greenway concluded. “Not for the name and fame of Southwestern Seminary, but so that Christ’s work may be more fulfilled a year from now than it is today, because God was pleased to use us — because we were with Him [and] we were faithful to proclaim His Good News and to do His works by His authority as He led us in all things.”
In addition to preaching, Greenway also utilized the convocation service to formally welcome newly appointed faculty members Joseph R. Crider, interim dean of the School of Church Music and Worship; Travis S. Kerns, associate professor of apologetics and world religions; Chuck T. Lewis, professor of church music and worship; Chris Shirley, professor of educational ministries; Michael S. Wilder, interim dean of the Terry School of Educational Ministries; and Gregory A. Wills, research professor of church history and Baptist heritage. In addition, Greenway announced that David S. Dockery, chancellor of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has joined Southwestern’s faculty as professor of theology, theologian-in-residence and special consultant to the president.
Finally, Greenway, along with Provost and Vice President for Academic Administration Randy L. Stinson, signed Southwestern Seminary’s book of confessional heritage, affirming their commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message.
“On a personal note, I must say, I have signed my name many places, many times, for many different reasons,” Greenway said after affixing his signature. “I must be honest: to think, 20 years after I was pronounced a Southwesterner that I would have the privilege of sitting here to sign the confessional heritage as an elected faculty member and as your president means the world to me.”