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‘Global seminary’ adds faculty, breaks records in key areas

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–The “global seminary” of the Southern Baptist Convention is in “one of the most exciting and challenging and pivotal years in the 90-year history of the seminary,” said Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Kenneth S. Hemphill at the seminary’s biannual board of trustees meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 20.
Among the factors making it an exciting year, trustees elected three new professors to the faculty, approved creation of two first-of-their-kind, $1-million faculty chairs and approved creation of a new award for ministers and other church leaders. Trustees also received updates on record-setting paces in enrollment, endowment and fund-raising, on new academic programs and new construction on campus and on recommendations from the “Theological Education in the Twenty-First Century” faculty committee.
Trustees elected three new professors to the faculty, effective Jan. 1. William Goff was elected professor of Christian ethics, Robert Williams was elected professor of theology and Frank Harber was elected assistant professor of evangelism. Hemphill said the three “excellent professors” will add to “an already outstanding faculty who will give us strength and depth in the evangelism/mission motif with academic credibility.”
Goff currently is area director of Spanish South America for the International Mission Board and has taught at Southwestern as an adjunct professor of Christian ethics since January 1998. Goff held several positions at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Venezuela from 1971-91, including professor, national director of Seminary by Extension and interim president. He has served as pastor of four churches in Texas and two in Venezuela and held numerous positions of leadership in the National Baptist Convention of Venezuela.
Goff earned master of divinity and doctor of theology degrees from Southwestern, a bachelor’s degree from Hardin Simmons University and a diploma in Spanish-language studies from the Institute de Lengua Espanola in San Jose, Costa Rica. He has written a textbook on Christian marriage and family, contributed chapters to three other books and has written numerous articles, teaching and study guides and Sunday school lessons.
“Bill Goff brings to us not only considerable expertise as far as ethics,” Hemphill said, “but also the mission spirit and the mission heart that is part of the soul of this seminary.” Hemphill said Goff will help students “see the connection of missions and evangelism with their studies in Christian ethics.”
Williams began serving as an adjunct professor at Southwestern in June 1998. He also has served as a professor at Criswell College in Dallas, adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University, assistant professor at Asbury College, Wilmore, Ky., and instructor at Vancouver Bible College, Surrey, British Columbia. He has been a guest lecturer at numerous conferences and schools.
Williams is ministries coordinator for the Dallas Baptist Association and is a steering committee member of the Inner City Evangelism Team for the North American Mission Board. He has pastored an inner-city mission and a Cambodian mission in Dallas and has been associate pastor and assistant pastor of two other churches in Dallas.
Williams earned a doctor of philosophy degree and a master of arts degree from the University of Chicago, a bachelors degree from Rice University in Houston and studied at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has written numerous articles and book reviews and served as editor of the book “Peter and Paul in the Church of Rome.”
“Bob Williams has impeccable academic credentials from Chicago and has a heart for the inner city,” Hemphill said, calling Williams’ inner city-ministry background in the Dallas association and his “outstanding evangelism touch” a unique combination.
Harber will be one of the first in Southern Baptist life to be on a faculty and continue in his crusade evangelism ministry with international evangelist Luis Palau. Hemphill said students will be able to accompany Harber on his crusades as field education experience “where they will actually do the preparation and follow-up in a crusade. They can have crusade experience as a part of their academic program.”
Harber is staff evangelist at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth and serves as president of the Conference of Texas Baptist Evangelists. He has served as an adjunct professor at Criswell College and at Southwestern since January 1998.
Harber earned master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Texas. He has written several publications, including “Reasons for Believing: A Seeker’s Guide to Christianity” and “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Convincing Evidence for Christianity.”
For the fourth year in a row, the SBC’s largest seminary experienced an increase in fall enrollment, officials reported. Preliminary figures for the fall semester report more than 3,300 students, a 4.4 percent increase over last fall.
Hemphill said the increase came in spite of a housing shortage that placed 139 students on a housing waiting list. To help solve the problem, the seminary has purchased the Garrett Housing apartment complex with 72 units, and Texas Baptist Men helped build 12 additional homes.
“We must continue to address this issue,” Hemphill told trustees. “We lost students that we could have had attending this fall.”
Hemphill said the seminary must move “aggressively” to build living and learning centers which will house 24 single men and a live-in mentor. The centers will not only help fill the housing shortage but also will be “one of the most innovative additions to theological training.”
Calling Southwestern “the global seminary,” Hemphill reported that the increased enrollment included 181 international students, the highest in school history, including nearly twice the number of African students.
“Our African students had a real burden that there were only nine African students, and they were not as dispersed (from) across the continent as they felt was needed for the 21st century in African leadership. They began to pray, and this year, in answer to prayer, our African student population nearly doubled,” he said.
The Cooperative Program and fund-raising are more reasons this is one of the most exciting years in the school’s history. “Last year we had one of our best years in our history,” Hemphill said. “Our endowment is now at an all-time high. We led the nation in several categories of fund-raising for all Association of Theological Schools, and this year we’re ahead of last year.” Hemphill asked trustees to return home “with a message to your churches that we appreciate what they do through the CP. It is our lifeline. It is our link. It is the only way we can maintain that which we do.”
Jack Terry, vice president for institutional advancement, told trustees the seminary raised more money in the last fiscal year than in any other year in its history. “For the first time in the history of the ‘Seminary Development News’ publication, we were ranked in the top 10 for alumni giving.”
Terry said the seminary learned the previous week that the Mabee Foundation of Tulsa had awarded the seminary a $1 million challenge grant for the $21.5-million Leadership Development Complex. Pledges toward the seminary’s $100 million “Impact Eternity” campaign have exceeded goals for faculty/staff, trustees and students.
Hemphill reminded trustees that Southwestern was the first seminary in the United States to have a chair of evangelism, called the chair of fire and currently occupied by Roy Fish. It is appropriate, then, that “we are moving in a more aggressive way to require personal evangelism of all of our students,” Hemphill said. “We feel like it is important not only to teach it in the classroom but to model it in the community.”
Hemphill told trustees “there is an excellent spirit on the campus.” Hemphill said a spirit of unity exists among the faculty, and he expressed appreciation for the faculty’s enthusiastic response to recommendations from the “Theological Education in the Twenty-First Century” committee. The faculty voted unanimously at its August retreat to move ahead with the recommendations.
“One new course is being designed and developed across the three schools that will involve every student who walks on this campus,” Hemphill explained. The first class the faculty endorsed is a leadership development course. “Trustees have been saying to us that somewhere we need to be dealing with the whole concept of how do you lead in a local church setting.”
Hemphill said the seminary will continue to ask trustees, pastors and others what is needed in the 21st-century seminary. “We’re going to keep asking that question because we believe Southwestern must be ‘the’ cutting-edge seminary,” Hemphill added.
In response to requests from Hispanic Baptist leaders from around Texas for training of Hispanic pastors, pilot projects have already begun, he said.
Southwestern is developing an intentional strategy to add minority professors to reflect the nature of the student body. Hemphill said he was delighted that Raymond Spencer, the school’s first African American professor, was elected at the spring trustee meeting. “We’re going to continue to look for the best candidate for the task, whatever that is, but we are very open and very aggressive about looking for those folks who represent the ethnic and racial diversity of our campus.”
Hemphill said the seminary is also taking steps to make the campus more student-friendly. A garden area featuring waterfalls, a gazebo and fish pond is being built in the center of campus. “It’s a place where students and faculty can spend quality time together.”
Southwestern is looking at how it can help students build relationship skills and transform attitudes, Hemphill said. “Eighty-five percent of a person’s ability to succeed in ministry is based on attitude and relationship.” He estimated that 95 percent of seminary training is based on skill and intelligence. “We’re not going to negate those,” Hemphill promised, “but we must address this issue: How do students build relationship skills with deacons, with leaders in their church, with staff, and how do we transform attitudes?”
Administrators hope to create a new paradigm in which all seminary students have a “lifelong learning strategy … whether it has to do with computer skills in ministry or new leadership techniques,” Hemphill said.
Hemphill called the effective use of the new Leadership Development Complex “one of our great challenges.” Phase one is under construction and phase two will begin “not too long from now.” The Texas Rangers baseball stadium required 850,000 bricks. “We had to order 750,000 bricks for our building. It is 300 yards long through the center of the building. It’s a big facility. We’ve already said to our faculty, ‘You’re going to have to become entrepreneurial.’”
He reminded trustees that the seminary’s work has eternal consequences and requires supernatural empowering. “Forty percent of all pastors and ministers of education, all people being trained in theological education today in Southern Baptist life, were trained at this school. Fifty-one percent of the missionaries on the foreign field were trained in this school.”
Scotty Gray, vice president of academic administration and institutional planning, said Southwestern has unprecedented opportunities to help institutions overseas. The seminary is forming relationships with educational institutions in Taejon, South Korea; Tokyo; Bangelor, India; and Dallas Baptist Seminary, a Korean school.
Gray reported new programs were in place offering master of divinity classes at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, and a new first-of-its-kind corporate chaplaincy program now complements the seminary’s strong emphasis on military and institutional chaplaincy. The school is receiving help from Marketplace Ministries developed by Southwestern graduate Gil Strickland. Gray said the seminary also is exploring bachelor’s level work for ministers age 25 and older.
Hubert Martin, vice president for business affairs, said the seminary is “financially sound.” Reporting that the seminary’s endowment stands at a record $112,856,287, Martin said the endowment had not been hurt by recent fluctuations in the stock market because of “solid investments.” He also reported that outside consultants reported that the seminary will not have any problems with the predicted Y2K computer bug at the year 2000.
At Martin’s request, trustees approved a recommendation authorizing the seminary to increase faculty and staff salaries over the next five years to bring them within the upper 50 percent of 18 comparable evangelical seminaries in the United States. Trustees challenged administrators to do whatever possible to make the salaries more competitive without greatly impacting student fees.
In other business, trustees:
— approved changes to the bylaws stating that the seminary’s statement of faith is the Baptist Faith and Message, replacing the words “in 1963″ with “as may be amended from time to time by the Convention.”
— approved creation of two new first-of-their-kind chairs: the James F. and Jeane Eaves Chair of Urban Evangelism and the B.J. and Rose Ann Glascock Chair of Radio Broadcasting. The $1-million chairs will be inaugurated when they are funded.
— elected Michael Dean vice chairman. Dean is senior pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
— granted tenure to Scott Floyd, associate professor of psychology and counseling.
— accepted the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended July 31.
— extended by three years the construction dates on the Institute for Biblical Research Library.
— approved changes to the seminary’s articles of incorporation as requested by the SBC Executive Committee naming the SBC the single owner of the institution.
— affirmed the current self-study in process leading to the regular site visit by the seminary’s accrediting agencies in 2001.
— approved this year’s recipients for the B.H. Carroll Award: Mr. and Mrs. B.J. Glascock of Dallas, Mr. and Mrs. David E. Wicker III of Dallas, and Mr. and Mrs. Fieldon E. Williams of Fort Worth.
— approved creation of a new L.R. Scarborough Award for pastors, church staff and denominational servants who have provide exemplary support to the seminary. The award will also honor Ralph M. and Bess Smith. Trustees also approved giving the first Scarborough Award to Ralph M. and Bess Smith.

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  • David Porter