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FROM THE SEMINARIES: MBTS launches chair of church history; NOBTS panel on human trafficking; SEBTS fills chair of N.T. studies

MBTS announces Lee and Tammy Roberson Endowed Chair of Church History 

By Michael Brooks/MBTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – During Midwestern Seminary’s fall Board of Trustees meeting, President Jason Allen announced the establishment and funding of the Lee and Tammy Roberson Endowed Chair of Church History.

Lee and Tammy Roberson, who live in Hobbs, N.M., are owners of business ventures in the oil and gas industry and Roberson Farms, LLC. The Robersons are members of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Hobbs, and Lee Roberson is entering his seventh year as a Midwestern Seminary trustee.

The church history chair is the second endowed faculty chair in Midwestern Seminary’s history. In 2010, MBTS and the Missouri Baptist Convention announced the Missouri Baptist Chair of Partnership Missions, later renamed the Gary Taylor Chair of Missions and Evangelism.

“It is increasingly important to be mindful not only of our seminary’s past and present but also its future,” Allen said. “One of the ways we hope to do this is by securing endowed chairs for key professorships in primary disciplines within our curriculum.

“By God’s grace and as a result of a series of conversations over the summer and into the fall, Lee and Tammy Roberson have stepped forward to provide key monetary support in the form of an endowment for a chair in church history, now named in their honor. What is more, Lee Roberson saw fit to endow the faculty chair in honor of his mother, Mrs. Margaret McClure, a faithful and exemplary member of a Southern Baptist congregation in New Mexico. We are greatly encouraged by the Robersons’ unwavering support and their commitment in their own local ministry contexts as well as to our institution and Southern Baptists more broadly.”

Lee Roberson has served as a seminary trustee since 2014 and is currently the board’s chairman.

“Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is a place in which the Word of God is held in the highest esteem,” Roberson said. “The study of the Word and the study of church history gives us the knowledge, confidence, and faith to know that the inerrant Word of God is true. The study of church history, and the Word alongside it, are pleasing to God and ensure we can confidently be faithful gospel witnesses to the world.

“Tammy and I are more than pleased and humbled to support the theologians at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary who dedicate their lives to study, teach, preach, and live out the history of the Church in unique ways. We support, care for, and pray for all those serving in Kansas City who are truly for the Church.”

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NOBTS sex trafficking panel points to timely need

By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Jamie Dew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College president, guided discussion for a panel addressing sex trafficking in the school’s Leavell Chapel. Dew called the issue easy to overlook but dangerous to ignore.

Panel participants included Kay Bennett, Send Relief missionary and executive director of New Orleans’ Baptist Friendship House (BFH); Kendall Wolz, BFH director; Ryan Rice, Send City missionary and pastor of New Orleans’ Connect Church; and Craig Garrett, NOBTS associate professor of counseling.

Bennett works with the FBI and the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-3737-888), a national resource center, to assist in the recovery of women and children caught in human trafficking. She defined human trafficking as “the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel a commercial sex act.”

The Oct. 28 panel was held one week after U. S. marshals recovered eight children and arrested 18 sex offenders in an operation in the New Orleans area. The New Orleans newspaper The Advocate/The Times-Picayune reported one of the cases was “particularly alarming” because the teenage girl recovered had been headed to Las Vegas to meet up with a man she had met online.

Bennett pointed to the significant risk social media poses for children and unsuspecting adults, luring in even young victims.

She recounted a situation she became aware of soon after she began working with the human trafficking hotline. A young woman from a rural area became trapped in sex trafficking after posting on social media that she needed a job in order to support her baby. Lured across the state line by a fraudulent job offer and separated from familiar settings, she was then trafficked across five states. The predator coerced her by threatening her daughter’s safety.

Social media posts – such as the young woman’s posts – that carry no privacy settings are “a predator’s playground,” Bennett said.

She added that human trafficking watchdog groups report that as online usage increased during the COVID shutdown, “trafficking increased 45 percent.”

Dew, in response, stepped out of his role as moderator to encourage listening parents to stay vigilant in monitoring their children’s activities online. “You are the shepherd of your child,” he said. “It’s OK that you tell them ‘no’ to social media accounts. You have the right to say, ‘Let me see this.’”

Drugs also are used to coerce victims, Bennett said, adding that once a victim is dependent on drugs or alcohol, the predator can control her.

The Baptist Friendship House, located at the edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter, serves women and children in transition, providing housing and educational resources to help women reenter life. Serving with NAMB’s compassion ministries in New Orleans since 1990, Bennett said her long-time ministry to those in vulnerable positions was a “natural fit” with human trafficking rescue efforts.

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Merkle established as SEBTS M.O. Owens Jr. Chair of New Testament Studies

By Lauren Pratt/SEBTS

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) faculty, staff, and students celebrated the installation of Benjamin L. Merkle to the M.O. Owens, Jr. Chair of New Testament Studies Oct. 26.

Endowed chairs are an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate faculty contributions to academic scholarship. They also honor the service and ministry of those for whom the chair is named. David Alan Black, senior professor of New Testament and Greek at SEBTS, held the title until his retirement earlier this year.

“M.O. Owens Jr. was a godly and faithful pastor who never wavered on the authority and inerrancy of God’s Word,” SEBTS President Danny Akin said. “David Alan Black honored well Dr. Owens as the initial occupant of the New Testament chair that bears Owens’ name. Now Ben Merkle will hold this distinguished chair and is the perfect person to carry on and honor Owens’ legacy. I am so grateful that faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures characterizes the lives of all three of these wonderful men.”

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