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FROM THE SEMINARIES: SWBTS English institute aiding int’l students; convocation at NOBTS

In today’s From the Seminaries:
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

SWBTS English Language Institute aiding international students

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s English Language Institute is now assisting full-time international students who need to improve their English comprehension.

“Students who couldn’t study here before at Southwestern now have a pathway,” said Caitlin Yowell, ELI director.

“The intensive English program is a fast-paced study program. As practical preparation for the ministry, the ELI prepares English-language learners to study and communicate in English at the academic level and use English for global ministry,” Yowell said.

The 36-hour program — three years in the making — includes instruction in grammar, speaking, listening, reading, writing, theological vocabulary and academic skills. The program is for incoming students who score high enough on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to have basic skills but not high enough to begin a degree program.

“It allows us to train F1 visa students whom we were never able to reach before, and allows remedial English assistance for existing students who need help,” said Michael Wilkinson, dean of Scarborough College, the seminary’s undergraduate school. “Also, current students’ wives can enter the program to be a help to their husbands in their ministry.”

Support is provided through formal classroom instruction, computer-assisted learning and cultural immersion opportunities. Classes are taught by Yowell and David Sanchez, a Ph.D. candidate at the seminary. Students who successfully complete the program will earn a TOEFL waiver for bachelor’s and most master’s degree programs at Southwestern.

The ELI was first conceived in a Scarborough College faculty meeting three years ago, Wilkinson said. “It was envisioned as a way to certify Southwestern students to teach English internationally. Then, we met with Andy Morris and realized that it would allow us to reach out to an entirely new group of students.” Morris, Southwestern’s director of international student ministry and services, suggested that the ELI could aid incoming international students in English language proficiency and began the process of requesting federal approval for that role.

The U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) reviewed the program for approval to admit international students, which was granted in July. SEVP, under the authority of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is education.

“We are incredibly excited that this door is now open so that we can ultimately train and send out even more workers for God’s harvest around the world,” Morris said.

The program is up and running with students who already live in the Fort Worth area. Yowell said that, by fall 2019, the seminary hopes to have a full-fledged cohort of incoming full-time ELI students.


Kelley at convocation: Meditation isn’t ’emptying your mind’

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley urged students and faculty to keep Scripture at the center of their lives during the Sept. 6 convocation marking the official start to a new academic year.

Drawing from the exhortation in Joshua 1:7-8 to meditate on Scripture, Kelley said, “It doesn’t matter who you are or how long you’ve walked with Jesus, it doesn’t matter how well you know the Word, if you don’t ‘keep it in your mouth,’ if you don’t keep it as the center of attention, you will not be faithful in doing what God wants you to do.”

Joshua, in following Moses as the leader of the Israelite nation, was instructed that success would come if he remained faithful in meditating on God’s law, Kelley said.

Meditation, Kelley noted, is not “emptying your mind and thinking of nothing.” Unlike the practice of Eastern religions, meditation instead means to “keep a conversation with God’s Word all the time,” Kelley said.

Many versions translate the passage as God’s law should be “always on your lips” or “shall not depart from your mouth.” Kelley explained that believers are made into Christ’s likeness when Scripture remains a key focus.

“Remember to keep the Bible ever ‘in your mouth,’ dialogue with it all the time so that God can make you the man, the woman, He wants you to be,” Kelley said.

The seminary’s first research doctoral fellows were announced by Kelley during the convocation.

Research doctoral fellows receive a merit-based scholarship that continues throughout the student’s time in the Ph.D. program.

Selected by the faculty as fellows are Jonathan Borland, the Thomas S. and Mary Wheeler Messer Fellowship in New Testament and Greek; Jamie Klemashevich, the Lucille and Harold Harris Ph.D. Fellowship in Christian Counseling; Ron Lindo Jr., the J. Duncan Boyd III Memorial Endowed Fellowship in Old Testament Studies and Hebrew; Jieun Yun, the Lallage Feazel Fellowship in Instrumental Music; and Russell Zwerner, the Milton and Charlotte Williams Fellowship in Preaching.

During a time of recognizing faculty anniversaries, NOVBT provost Norris Grubbs congratulated Kelley for 35 years as professor of evangelism. Kelley was serving on faculty when elected as the seminary’s president in 1996.

Grubbs noted Kelley’s accomplishments, including his recent book on evangelism, “Fuel the Fire,” released by B&H Academic this year. In his remarks, Grubbs referenced the story of Kelley’s hesitancy to accept a faculty position, intending instead to invest his life in evangelistic service.

“Even though it wasn’t necessarily what you had planned, God had plans for you here, we are better for it,” Grubbs said. “It’s hard to imagine what the history of NOBTS would have been like without you. We are certainly grateful for your influence and what you’ve done here.”

Other faculty anniversaries were:

— 30 years of service: Gerald Stevens, distinguished professor of New Testament and Greek.

— 25 years: Harold Mosley, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Thomas Strong, professor of New Testament and Greek in the seminary’s Leavell College; and Ken Taylor, professor of urban missions.

— 20 years: Eddie Campbell, professor of English, Leavell College; Loretta Rivers, professor of social work; and Robert Stewart, professor of philosophy and theology.

— 15 years were Reggie Ogea, professor of leadership and pastoral ministry; Jeff Riley, professor of ethics; and Ed Steele, professor of music, Leavell College.

-– 10 years: Jim Parker, professor of biblical interpretation, and Sandra Vandercook, professor of English and education, Leavell College.

    About the Author

  • SBC Seminary & BP Staff

    Cassity Potter writes for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press, the SBC’s news service; Alex Sibley writes for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and S. Craig Sanders writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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