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Logan Carson, SEBTS’ first African American prof, dies

ANGIER, N.C. (BP) — Logan Carson, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s first full-time African American professor, died Nov. 3 at age 86.

Carson, who taught theology at SEBTS from 1994-2009, will be remembered for his zeal for life, love for teaching Scripture to his students and his humility in serving others.

Danny Akin, Southeastern’s president, noted, “The thing I remember most about Dr. Carson is that he said he didn’t want his sight back in this life because ‘the first thing I want to see is Jesus’ face.'”

Carson was born blind due to malformed retinas in July 1932 in McDowell County, N.C. However, blindness did not stop his zeal in ministry and his love for the Lord. In 1955, Carson was pursuing a degree to become a constitutional attorney when he sensed God’s call to teach students the Scriptures.

Carson received a bachelor of arts in Bible and social science from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., in 1957. In 1960, just three days after marrying his wife Glenwood, he received his bachelor of divinity from Hartford Seminary Foundation in Connecticut. Twenty years later, the graduate school of Drew University in Madison, N.J., awarded Carson a doctor of philosophy degree.

His students through the years have been impacted by the way he taught them to know and love Scripture and to honor the Lord through doing everything well for His glory. His motto was, “In Christ, strive for excellence.”

During his time at Southeastern, Carson also served as pastor of Green-Bethel Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, N.C.

Before joining the SEBTS faculty, Carson had taught 21 years as a professor of religion in Old Testament studies at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs.

Doug Nalley, director of housing at SEBTS and a former student of Carson, recalled how Carson would affectionately call his seminary students “tadpoles,” as they were not fully-developed theologians.

Carson told his class he was going to be sent to make brooms after high school but was determined to do more, Nally recounted.

“They laughed at him initially, but then off he went to law school,” Nalley said. “Next was theology school. If they had their way, Dr. Carson would have spent his life making brooms. However, in God’s providence, God used this blind man to prepare untold numbers of students to fulfill the Great Commission and serve the church.”

In addition to Gardner-Webb, Carson also served as an instructor of religion at Montclair State College in New Jersey and a Bible knowledge master at Waka Schools in northeastern Nigeria.

Carson’s ministerial positions included pastor of Olive Branch Baptist Church in Wake Forest, N.C.; associate pastor of First Baptist Church, Jeffersontown, Ky.; pastor of Webb First Baptist Church in Ellenboro, N.C.; and pastor of Christ Community Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C.

Throughout his educational journey, Carson was both an outstanding student and beloved professor. As a student, Carson graduated with high honors from Shaw University, received special commendation in receiving his master’s degree and maintained a 4.0 GPA during his Ph.D. while also being awarded multiple fellowships.

At Southeastern, Carson received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003.

Carson’s hiring at Southeastern stemmed from the advocacy of his former secretary, according to the 2002 book by historian Barry Hankins, “Uneasy in Babylon: Southern Baptist Conservatives and American Culture.”

The secretary, not named in Hankins’ book, had taken a job at Southeastern and recruited Gardner-Webb graduates who were studying at the seminary to sign a letter urging that Carson be considered for the faculty. Paige Patterson, who became SEBTS president in 1992, “grew interested and brought Carson to Southeastern for an interview that eventually resulted in his hiring for the fall of 1994,” Hankins wrote.

Wayne McDill, emeritus senior professor of preaching at SEBTS, was both a colleague and neighbor of Carson. A member of the faculty committee that interviewed Carson in a preliminary visit to Southeastern, McDill said his first impression “was that he was so informed about almost any subject, and that he was spiritually sensitive.”

“I was struck with his genuine interest in students. I was in his office one time when a student came by. Dr. Carson immediately recognized him and asked about his situation. Then he prayed for him while we stood there together.”

Carson served in other capacities during his career as well, including as a music writer for a Kentucky newspaper called The American Baptist, parliamentarian for the Ebenezer Baptist Association and Garner-Webb College faculty meetings; moderator of the Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Association; a speaker and evangelist for revival services and a conference leader for multiple Winter Bible Studies.

Carson was preceded in death by his wife Glenwood (whom he affectionately called “Pep”), and is survived by his two adult children Aaron and Tricia.

Carson’s funeral was scheduled today (Nov. 12) at 1 p.m. in Southeastern’s Binkley Chapel.

An SEBTS chapel sermon by Carson can be heard at https://vimeo.com/16694441.

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  • Lauren Pratt