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FROM THE SEMINARIES: SWBTS sees record number of Hispanic graduates; SEBTS student, faculty honored

SWBTS graduates historic number of Hispanic graduates

By Clara Molina

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – The Spanish department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), under the direction of Mark McClellan, has been working diligently to equip Hispanics in North America and all over the world. Southwestern celebrated a milestone this month when 124 of the 336 students that graduated at the fall commencement were Hispanic. This goes a long way toward Southwestern’s goal of becoming the premiere theological training institution for Hispanics worldwide. 

“It’s a blessing to see what the Lord is doing at Southwestern, and we are very proud of our students, and thankful for God’s mercy and grace for this great achievement,” said McClellan, professor of missions and director of Hispanic Programs at Southwestern.

The historic number of Hispanic graduates was preceded by a celebration banquet the night before which gathered Hispanic leaders, many of whom are also students, from all over the country, including Puerto Rico, South America, Mexico and Brazil,

SWBTS President David Dockery congratulated the graduates and acknowledged the leadership of McClellan and Dean Sieberhagen, interim dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

“We are excited about being able to offer quality theological education, pastoral preparation, and equipping you for ministry, from the certificate program to doctoral work,” Dockery said.

“The work for the Spanish program is very important for the vision of the future at Southwestern. Southwestern is committed to you and we ask for you to renew your commitment to Southwestern. We want you to think of this seminary as your seminary … a place providing Spanish language education not only in Texas but across this country and around the world.”

Dockery said Southwestern has a global emphasis to equip leaders so they can reach the world with the Gospel. He asked the Hispanic graduating class to provide feedback so leaders can make the Hispanic program even better.

Notable attendees at the banquet included Bruno Molina, executive director of the National Hispanic Baptist Network and adjunct professor at the seminary; Daniel R. Sánchez, SWBTS’ distinguish professor emeritus of missions; Terry Coy and Bill Goff.

Julio Arriola, SEND Network/SBTC church planting director, recognized the more than 30 church planters present at the event and some of the SEND Network Español Champions: Jorge Altieri, the Michigan, Ohio and Indianapolis regional representative; Esteban Vasquez, associate pastor at Champion Forest, Texas; and Julio Crespo, pastor at Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, who opened the event with prayer.

“May the LORD use these graduates and the future ones so that Christ is made known in all nations,” Crespo said.

Martin Manchego, who graduated with a Master of Divinity, said during a time of personal testimony that Southwestern professors “are more interested in the personal growth and well-being of all students than academics, and that alone inspired me and others to study at Southwestern.”

Hispanics are also part of the English-language programs at Southwestern. They are contributing to the advancement of the Gospel and guiding the new generation of English-speaking Hispanics into fruitful ministry.

Among them is Hugo Encorrada, a father of six children, two of whom are students at Texas Baptist College. Encorrada graduated from SWBTS’ School of Music and will continue his education at Southwestern to earn a Ph.D from the same.

To obtain more information about Hispanic programs, go to https://swbts.edu/seminario-southwestern-espanol/

The Spanish Program at Southwestern is accepting students for the Master of Theological Studies in Portuguese, starting in January of 2024.

SEBTS installs two endowed chairs

By Chad Burchett/SEBTS

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – During chapel on Nov. 30, Southeastern Seminary recognized a student for his commitment to personal evangelism and installed two of its professors as endowed chairs. Highlighting God’s faithfulness to his promises, President Danny Akin preached from Luke 1:5-25 for the final chapel message of the semester.

In his sermon, Akin highlighted how the birth of John the Baptist powerfully demonstrated God’s faithfulness to his promises. Acknowledging that those who walk with God still experience disappointments, Akin noted that Zechariah and Elizabeth are described as “righteous,” yet God still allowed them to experience childlessness for most of their lives.

Akin reminded attendees that God knew their condition, and even when it seemed like they would not experience the blessing of parenthood, He surprised them with His goodness and grace, fulfilling his promises from the Old Testament.

Despite God’s consistent outpouring of goodness and grace on his people, the righteous still sometimes struggle to believe, as Akin noted in his sermon. Zechariah doubted and God chastened him because God’s character is unchanging — He is always faithful to His word and upholds His promises to His people. Charging attendees to walk closely with God, Akin noted that those who walk with God discover that He keeps His word and blesses His children. This truth is most vividly displayed in the incarnation of His Son, Jesus, who fulfilled God’s promises of redemption.

As a Great Commission seminary, Southeastern challenges its students to honor God not only by faithfully stewarding their studies but also by serving the Church and fulfilling the Great Commission. Celebrating how students have exemplified these values, Southeastern’s faculty recognize outstanding students during an awards chapel at the end of the fall and spring semesters.

This fall, Southeastern awarded the Ernest and Edna Owens Evangelism Award to Jake Hatfield, a current student who also serves as director of college life for The College at Southeastern. The Owens Evangelism Award is given every fall to a full-time student who models a faithful evangelistic witness and a passion for discipleship and personal evangelism.

“Jake, congratulations for demonstrating what we are all about,” commented Provost Scott Pace. “Your consistent evangelistic witness, love for the gospel, and desire to lead others to do the same embodies who we are as Southeastern.”

During chapel, Southeastern also installed Steve McKinion as the John Leadley Dagg Chair of systematic theology and Tate Cockrell as the Fulp Chair of biblical counseling.

Previously held by retired professor John Hammett, the John L. Dagg Chair is named after America’s first systematic Baptist theologian and was given in honor of Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church Durham and visiting professor of historical theology at Southeastern. As the newest recipient of the chair, McKinion has taught at Southeastern since 1998 and serves as professor of theology and patristic studies at Southeastern.

The Fulp Chair of biblical counseling is named after the late Jim Fulp, who used his MDiv in biblical counseling from Southeastern to serve his local church, and his wife Sarah Fulp, who was also involved in church ministry and is a long-time supporter of Southeastern. Succeeding retired professor Sam Williams as the Fulp Chair, Cockrell has taught at Southeastern since 2012 and serves as professor of counseling and director of DMin and EdD Studies at Southeastern.

Made possible by generous donations, endowed chairs provide an enduring source of funding for Southeastern professors and ensures Southeastern can continue to recruit world-class faculty who share its Great Commission vision for equipping students. These donations also help to keep tuition costs affordable and to grow the institutions’ academic programs.

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