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FROM THE SEMINARIES: SEBTS holds Prison Program graduation; MBTS releases unpublished Spurgeon poems

SEBTS Spring 2024 Prison Program graduates sent on mission

By Mary Asta Halvorsen/SEBTS

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – Friends and family gathered May 14 to honor and support 17 men who crossed the stage as alumni of The College at Southeastern’s North Carolina Field Minister Program (NCFMP).

In partnership with Nash Correctional Institution, the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC), and Game Plan for Life (GPL), Southeastern’s field minister program seeks to educate and equip incarcerated people of faith to serve and effect positive cultural change from the inside out.

Rocky Wright, Southeastern’s director of Prison Programs and associate dean of The College at Southeastern, gave the welcoming address at the graduation ceremony.

“Today,” he declared, “we are pleased to present these men, graduating with a fully accredited Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry, all of whom will soon be deployed on field ministry teams to other facilities throughout the state of North Carolina to serve the incarcerated population. They will join the other graduated classes of field ministers already serving all over the state.” Wright added that, already, the fruit of these deployed field ministers is being seen as they are “making a huge impact in our state.”

“This program would not exist without the living God, to whom all glory and honor is due,” Wright said. “Ultimately, we are here today because of His providence and grace through Christ Jesus. The most important people in the program, however, are the very students themselves, including the men sitting right in front of us today. As you must know, they have overcome incredible odds including, specifically for this class, starting their degree at the outset of COVID.”

In his address, Wright took a moment to honor the late Adrianne Miles, a dearly loved faculty member of both The College at Southeastern and those within the NCFMP.

“As you know, and as she told you, she absolutely loved every minute of teaching you over the years,” he said. “And you know, she prayed for you. And she was so very thankful for your prayers for her when she was battling cancer. She was proud of you, even celebrating you because she knew where you would be sitting today. And she was excited for what the Lord has in store for you in the days ahead.”

SEBTS President Danny Akin gave an address from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, in which he spoke of the miracle, message and ministry of reconciliation found in Jesus Christ, a reconciliation for which believers become ambassadors.

“Brothers, go and be those kinds of ambassadors,” Akin challenged the graduates. “You will make us proud; but, better than that, Jesus from heaven will smile on you and the ministry of being his ambassador in these places that God has uniquely and sovereignly assigned just for you.”

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Geoff Chang releases collection of Spurgeon’s unpublished poems

By Michaela Classen/MBTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrates the May 15 release of “Christ Our All: Poems for the Christian Pilgrim(B&H Academic). Containing hundreds of Charles Spurgeon’s original poems, many of them previously unpublished, the volume was compiled by Geoffrey Chang, curator of the Spurgeon Library and assistant professor of Church history and historical theology at Midwestern Seminary.

“I am grateful for the release of Dr. Chang’s new edited book Christ Our All,” said MBTS President Jason Allen. “It is an incredible privilege for Midwestern Seminary to steward the Spurgeon Library and the Heritage Collection. This new book featuring Spurgeon’s poems, many of which were unpublished, is a great reminder of that stewardship. I am grateful for Dr. Chang and his tireless work, and I am grateful that Spurgeon admirers everywhere will benefit from reading the Prince of Preachers’ poetry.”

Known for his ministry to thousands as a preacher and pastor in Victorian England, Charles Spurgeon wrote hundreds of poems delighting in Christ. One of his poems, “Christ Our All,” provided the book’s title.

“In this poem, Spurgeon prays for God to illumine the Word so that he might see Christ’s ‘shining face,’” said Chang. “I felt this was a fitting title for the entire volume, as Spurgeon’s love for and dependence on Christ is the thread that weaves all the poems together.

“All the poems portray the Christian as a pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City. These poems, then, are reminders that we are not alone on this journey, but Christ is with us every step of the way.”

Chang went on to share the importance of making Spurgeon’s unpublished poems available today, noting the rich spiritual encouragement available therein. “Spurgeon is known worldwide as one of the greatest preachers of Church history. But very little is known about his poetry. What makes this compilation unique is that it includes not only his hymns and poems but also a collection of unpublished poems.”

These unpublished poems, numbering 186, were handwritten in a notebook which is currently housed in the Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Seminary.

“These are private, devotional poems written as prayers, theological reflections, and expressions of sorrows and joys,” Chand said. “They not only give us insight into the poetic heart of Spurgeon, but they are also deeply encouraging for the Christian life.”

The first part of Chang’s book comprises these poems, including the themes of prayer, heaven, salvation, and God’s faithfulness. The second part comprises 43 additional poems by Spurgeon, all of them previously published, many in his lifetime.

In his introduction to the book, Chang describes Spurgeon’s love for poetry and his poetic influences, such as William Cowper and John Bunyan, author of “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Chang also highlights how Spurgeon applied his love of poetry to pastoring by arranging a hymnal for his church.

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