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FROM THE SEMINARIES: Grubbs assumes NOBTS provost role; convocations at NOBTS & Gateway

Today’s From the Seminaries includes: New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention

Norris Grubbs assumes provost role at NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Norris Grubbs, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s new provost, has stepped into a position is already familiar to him in many ways.

“We have godly men and women serving God here who are experts in their field,” Grubbs said, reflecting on leading his first convocation Sept. 5. “I want to do my very best to help them serve God as best they can. That would be success for me.”

Grubbs, 45, who assumed his new role Aug. 1, has seen the seminary from the vantage point of a master of divinity student; joining the faculty and going through Hurricane Katrina; and associate provost overseeing the extension centers and enrollment management.

Longtime friend Thomas Strong, dean of the seminary’s undergraduate Leavell College, said Grubbs is a “great teacher” and skilled administrator.

“I taught him when he was working toward his M.Div., we were on faculty together in Leavell College, and I was his dean for over 15 years,” Strong said. “Now he is my provost and I couldn’t be happier.”

Grubbs joined the Leavell College faculty in 2000 as an instructor in New Testament and Greek while completing his doctor of philosophy degree at NOBTS. He was elected associate professor of New Testament and Greek after completing his Ph.D. In addition to his M.Div. from NOBTS, he holds a bachelor of arts degree from Union University in Jackson, Tenn.

The great-grandson of a circuit riding preacher and son of a Baptist layman and businessman, Grubbs said God’s call on his life began at an early age while growing up in Pontotoc, Miss. A plaque he made as a 7-year-old displayed his dreams for his future, that of being a “pro football player” and a “preacher.”

Hired first as a fulltime contract teacher, Grubbs served one year before the seminary elected him to faculty as an instructor. The move into the classroom was a turn he didn’t expect but one he came to embrace.

“I realized God is the one who calls and He can direct any way He wants. I’m going to say yes,” Grubbs said. “I see that He’s reshaping how He wants to use me again and I want to do my best to serve Him in this role.”

Mike Edens, NOBTS graduate dean, said the seminary has had a long line of outstanding leaders and noted that Grubbs “is in that line.” Grubbs is “a man of God, a brilliant scholar in his own discipline and a personable statesman for the Gospel,” Edens said.

As the seminary celebrates its 100th anniversary during the 2017-2018 academic year, Grubbs will help lead the seminary into the next century and to new goals. Strong said Grubbs has the skills to handle the job.

“Dr. Grubbs has an incredible mind that is able to organize and analyze,” Strong said. “He has the ability to look at all that is taking place, ask the appropriate questions and lead to necessary conclusions.”

Edens said Grubbs thinks about the problems that face churches today and how best to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission more effectively.

“It’s a hard time for the church. It’s a hard time to be a minister,” Edens said. “So, I celebrate God giving us a great leader for the 21st century.”

Grubbs coauthored “Word Studies Made Simple: How to Study the Bible in the Original Languages” (2013) with Francis Kimmitt, authored numerous articles for the Baker Bible Dictionary, collated several manuscripts for the International Greek New Testament Project, and serves as a research fellow for the Research Institute of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Grubbs has served as pastor and interim pastor at numerous churches. He and wife Kim are the parents of three daughters, Katie, 16, Mollie, 14, and Cameron, 9.

For Strong, Grubbs is, first and foremost, a friend.

“Perhaps, above all, I am most thankful for Norris as a fellow pilgrim on this journey with Christ,” Strong said. “I feel closer to God as a result of my friendship with him. I am thankful that he is my friend, my colleague and now my provost.


Kelley at convocation: Servant leadership ‘costly, yet necessary’

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Chuck Kelley, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president, marked the start of the academic year by referencing a moment every teacher knows — when a student asks, “Is this going to be on the test?”

Kelley pointed to Mark 10:32-45 to say Jesus had a similar experience as He traveled toward Jerusalem, telling His disciples He would face arrest, flogging and death. Jesus explained that all of His ministry and the reason for the incarnation was about to reach fruition, Kelley noted.

But then James and John ask a question, Kelley said.

“There was a complete disengagement between what Jesus was saying as compared to what their expectations were,” Kelley said of the disciples’ request for a place of honor in the coming Kingdom. “Jesus answered them, ‘You don’t even know what you’re asking.'”

Kelley pointed to Jesus’ “remarkable statement” in verse 45 contrasting Gentile rulers and those in God’s Kingdom. “One wields power and authority; the other engages in service,” Kelley said.

If God’s Son came to serve rather than being ministered to, Kelley said, then believers must commit to serving others. He pointed to the year’s emphasis of servant leadership, one of NOBTS’ core values, and challenged the convocation audience to live lives of service.

“Servant leadership is necessary,” Kelley said. “It is costly, very costly. And it is ultimately the whole point of the Kingdom of God.”

Faculty members marking anniversaries NOBTS were recognized by Kelley during the convocation.

Steve Lemke, professor of philosophy and ethics and recently named provost emeritus and vice president of institutional assessment, was honored for 20 years of service, while Donna Peavey, professor of Christian education, was recognized for 15 years of service.

Noted for 10 years of service were Rex Butler, professor of church history and patristics; Mike Edens, professor of theology and Islamic studies; Dennis Phelps, professor of preaching; Jake Roudkovski, professor of evangelism and pastoral leadership; and Mark Tolbert, professor of preaching and pastoral ministry.

The first faculty member to be appointed to the new position of distinguished research professor also was announced.

Bill Day, retiring after 16 years of service, was named distinguished research professor occupying the Gurney Chair of Evangelism and Church Health. Day will continue in his role as associate director of the Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health.

New faculty members signed the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and continued the tradition of signing the NOBTS Articles of Religious Belief, a document drafted by the NOBTS faculty soon after the seminary’s founding nearly 100 years ago and prior to the first Southern Baptist Convention Baptist Faith and Message in 1925

Signing the two documents were Jeff Audirsch, associate professor of biblical studies in Leavell College; Delio DelRio, assistant professor of New Testament and Greek; Adam Hughes, assistant professor of expository preaching; and Jamie Killion, associate professor of voice and conducting.


Iorg exhorts Gateway Seminary students to evangelistic fervor

ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) — Jeff Iorg announced during President’s Convocation that Gateway Seminary has opened a Billy Graham exhibit celebrating Southern California crusades in Los Angeles in 1949, 1963 and 2004, Anaheim in 1969 and 1985 and Hollywood in 1974.

The exhibit was created through a new partnership with the Billy Graham Library.

The 1949 Los Angeles crusade launched Graham into international prominence as a young evangelist. Scheduled for three weeks, the meetings were extended to more than eight weeks, with overflow crowds filling a tent erected downtown each night.

“The exhibit will help us remember and be invigorated by a rich heritage of evangelistic fervor and Kingdom expansion in Southern California,” Iorg said during the Aug. 31 convocation to open the fall semester.

“This area has been marked by successful evangelism crusades, including those by Billy Graham and Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Church in Riverside, Calif., whose annual crusade in Anaheim attracts 150,000 people.”

Gateway’s evangelistic fervor was displayed by 40 students in two evangelism courses taught this past summer, Iorg noted. Their work resulted in more than 160 Gospel presentations, with 36 people receiving Christ. Afterward, one student led another 14 people to Christ during Vacation Bible School at a local church.

“In spite of efforts like these, declining baptismal numbers indicate evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention is on the decline,” Iorg said. “There are a lot of macro reasons for that, but today we have to concentrate on the micro reason: We must be passionate about introducing people to Jesus.”

Fresh eyes are needed to see people as they really are and not what they do or who they pretend to be, Iorg said. “When emotional engagement intersects human need, passion for introducing people to Jesus is ignited.

“How motivated are you to get people to Jesus?” Iorg asked. “When you watch television, do you just see activists, protesters and politicians — or do you see people as they really are, with needs, hurts and personal struggles? More personally, how do you see people around you?”

Based on the response of religious leaders in Mark 2, Iorg warned about becoming part of any religious system that opposes people being introduced to Jesus. Citing the four friends who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, he challenged the Gateway audience to be more like them than the religious elite who questioned Jesus’ actions.

Iorg said he recently attended a Harvest Crusade in Anaheim featuring Greg Laurie, where “thousands streamed forward in the service to profess faith in Jesus Christ.” When he left the stadium, protesters were holding signs labeling the event “false Christianity” and listing the supposed theological shortcomings evident in Laurie’s message and methods. Iorg compared the protesters to the scribes in Mark 2.

“While those guys stood outside the stadium with their signs telling the rest of us the proper way to share the real Gospel, the man in the arena gave his heart and soul helping people come to faith in Jesus,” he said. “We must be passionate witnesses, not detractors who attack others who are busy sharing the Gospel.”

Iorg challenged the seminary community to continue the tradition of evangelism in Southern California. “Engage with people around you, see them for who they really are, and lead them to Jesus the best way you can. The world needs Jesus, and they need to hear about him from you and me.”

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