News Articles

FROM THE SEMINARIES: NOBTS panel on abortion; Land Center lectures; MBTS thanks Missouri Baptists

NOBTS panel: Post-Roe, the church can make abortion unthinkable

By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – “Let’s roll up our sleeves,” Jamie Dew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College president, said in calling on believers to join the work of crisis pregnancy centers.

Dew’s comment came during a chapel program Oct. 27 highlighting how the church can help women in unexpected pregnancies. Guests included Ben Clapper, Louisiana Right to Life executive director; Hyuna Franklin, director, and Maci Duncan, client care coordinator, Community Center for Life, New Orleans area; and Thomas Strong, a local pastor and NOBTS faculty member whose church supports a pregnancy center. Dew moderated the event.

“One church can make a difference,” Dew said, “but 100 churches can make a huge difference.”

Ben Clapper reported that 7,444 abortions were performed last year in Louisiana but that the number is expected to drop to zero with the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the implementation of Louisiana pro-life laws.

Clapper urged listeners to consider the care women facing unexpected pregnancies will now need.

“That means we have got to fill the gap,” Clapper said. “Love has got to fill the gap … that used to be filled by abortion.”

Thomas Strong, pastor and NOBTS vice president for spiritual formation and student life, said his church was moved to action after learning about and praying for the crisis pregnancy center.

“It was important for us not just to say it was an important issue, but for us to say it was important enough for us to do something about it,” Strong said. “Prayer is important. It starts there, but it doesn’t stop there.”

‘Mobilize together’

At the Community Center for Life in Gretna, La., pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, infant supplies, counseling, community resource and adoption information are available free of charge.

Hyuna Franklin, an NOBTS graduate, said the center depends on churches to help them meet the varied needs of women and their children, up to age 4.

“Our goal is to walk alongside mothers and families facing unplanned pregnancies and save the unborn that way by loving them and caring for them,” Franklin said.  

Franklin said volunteers can partner with other faith-based organizations or help in creative ways and told of a mechanic who repaired older cars and donated them to mothers in need.

“No special skill set is needed,” she said.

Maci Duncan, NOBTS alum, said the “No. 1 issue” her clients face is loneliness. Duncan said clients often lack a support system, sometimes to the extent of being unable to identify someone as an emergency contact.

“We want to make abortion unthinkable,” Duncan said. “We as the church can do that. We can be part of the solution if we mobilize together.”

A pastor’s impact

Dew pointed out that many NOBTS students feel called to the ministry and asked what pastors can do to engage the church.

“First, compassion,” Clapper responded. “We have to be compassionate but we have to be compelling. Too often churches, because they feel it’s a difficult topic, will choose silence instead of a compassionate way to address it.”

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Land Center lecture series focuses on Southern Baptist engagement of culture

By Timothy McKeown/SWBTS

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – Looking at politics, science and education from a “perspective on Southern Baptist cultural engagement,” the Land Center for Cultural Engagement Lecture Series event held Oct. 25-26 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary featured three one-hour lectures from Nathan Finn, Baptist historian and provost and dean of the university faculty at North Greenville University. 

Finn, who is also a senior fellow of the Land Center, was named the featured speaker after the original speaker, ethicist C. Ben Mitchell, also a senior fellow of the Land Center, had to cancel due to a severe back injury. Richard D. Land, president emeritus of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (ERLC) and namesake of the Land Center, was in attendance through all three sessions and the final hour of a question-and-answer session, which was moderated by Daniel M. Darling, director of the Land Center and assistant professor of faith and culture at Texas Baptist College. 

Finn was introduced by David S. Dockery, interim president of Southwestern Seminary, who is also a Land Center senior fellow. Dockery described Finn as an “exemplary Baptist historian” and a “great thinker” and also recognized and introduced Land as “a symbol and great voice for Southern Baptists in the public square.” 

Dockery stated that he and Finn are co-editors of The Theology for the People of God, a 16-volume series that Dockery described as being “projected to be the largest theological contribution that Baptists have made in the past 400 years.” Dockery further mentioned that Finn is scheduled to write a future volume on sanctification for the series, the first volume of which was published in 2020 and will continue through 2030.

Introducing the lectures, Finn said, “the theme is Baptists and cultural engagement, Southern Baptists in particular,” with the first session on politics being titled “The Separation of Church and State: A Southern Baptist Perspective.”

“If you know anything about Baptists, if you know anything about politics, you know Baptists talk a lot about religious liberty and separation of church and state,” Finn said, adding that Baptists have “always advocated soul freedom or liberty of conscience in matters of religion.” Finn traced the history of Baptists and religious liberty beginning with 17th century English minister Thomas Helwys, founder of “the first Baptist church on English soil,” in 1612 located in what is now East London, England.

Finn continued through the years, noting long-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, George W. Truett, delivered “his most note-worthy sermon, ‘Baptists and Religious Liberty’,” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in 1920.

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MBTS expresses gratitude at Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting

By Brett Fredenberg/MBTS

ST. CHARLES, Mo (BP) – During this year’s Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary expressed gratitude to pastors and churches in the seminary’s annual report and through hosting the Pastors’ Conference Lunch.

Midwestern Seminary’s Vice President of Student Services John Mark Yeats delivered the seminary’s report.

The report included updates on enrollment gains, expansion of training opportunities, the newly established five-year plan, and the announcement of the John and Sharon Yeats Endowed Chair of Baptist Studies.

Yeats began his report with a word of thanksgiving to Missouri Baptists, saying, “We are so thankful for you, for your churches, and for your ongoing support, both in prayer and through financial giving, and in sending students as we continue to train God called men and women for the church.”

Seminary improvements

Recognizing Midwestern Seminary’s recent 10-year celebration of President Jason Allen’s leadership, Yeats overviewed many of the seminary’s changes in the last decade and recent updates in the last year.

“When Allen arrived 10 years ago, Midwestern Seminary had around 1200 students. We closed out last year at just under 5000 students,” he said.

At the campus level Yeats said, “We have seen our campus reset with our deferred maintenance addressed and beauty reintroduced to the campus.”

He made note of faculty changes in the past year, saying, “We’ve had significant hires on our campus, including Dr. Thomas Kidd as our research professor of church history. He’s a leading scholar across the nation who is now teaching our undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students.”

He also spoke to the recently added training opportunities at the seminary. These updates include the expansion of the Fusion program, a missions program in connection with the International Mission Board, which now trains graduate students for overseas service. He also noted the increased seminary connections to local churches through the For The Church Institute, which continues to add more free courses for churches each year.

Yeats continued his report by sharing the recently approved five-year strategic plan for Midwestern Seminary. “As we finished these last 10 years, we have set out five strategic priorities for the next five years that, Lord willing, will see an even greater investment in you and in your churches.”

He noted the five strategic priorities which include: (1) mission faithfulness, (2) student success, (3) faculty strength, (4) a flourishing community, and (5) intergenerational stewardship.

Endowed chair

Yeats concluded his report by announcing two recent gifts to the seminary.

First, he shared, “We’ve announced recent gifts that will help ensure that our high-level missions training program, Fusion, will be accessible to even more students. We’ll continue our direct partnership with the International Mission Board seeking to send more men and women globally, especially targeting unreached and unengaged people groups.”

He also said, “We’ve announced multiple endowed chairs this year, including one solidified this past spring that I’m excited to re-announce to you here, namely, the John and Sharon Yeats Endowed Chair of Baptist Studies.”

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