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Mark Brister accepts OBU presidential post


SHAWNEE, Okla. (BP)–The Oklahoma Baptist University trustees, in a special called meeting April 27, elected Mark A. Brister, pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church, Shreveport, La., as OBU’s 14th president. Brister will become president-elect effective Aug. 1 and will assume the presidency when Bob R. Agee retires, effective Sept. 1.
“Believing this to be God’s clear call, I accept the invitation to become the next president of OBU,” Brister told the trustees. “Pray for us as we now must share this with our church.”
Addressing the faculty, Brister added, “We are awed, humbled and honored to be here with you. The process that has unfolded in recent weeks has been an incredible journey for us. We have prayed and sought God’s leadership and feel a very deep, profound sense of calling. OBU must never lose its vision of who we are in Christ. But we must not compromise the academics in this journey one iota.”
Brister was the unanimous choice of the OBU presidential search committee, according to Sam Hammons, chairman of the committee and an attorney from Edmond, Okla. “We really felt the prayers of a lot of people,” Hammons said. “We have really sensed the movement of the Lord in this matter.”
“He did not apply for the job,” Agee noted. “In fact, he was very surprised when the committee contacted him and said his name had been submitted.”
Agee recounted that the search committee “had been interviewing college presidents and chief financial officers, but had been waiting for that ‘aha’ moment when you know it is the right person. With him, that moment finally came.”
Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said, “All the way through, the group had the sense that God would lead us to the right person.”
Active in Baptist life, Brister was chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention Program and Structure Study Committee which developed a reorganization of the convention’s agency structure from 1994-96.
Before becoming pastor of the 6,000-member Shreveport church in 1989, Brister was pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Baytown, Texas, for five years. Earlier he was pastor of First Baptist Church, Bolivar, Mo.
The nomination of Brister for the OBU presidency came from John Newport, vice president for academic affairs and provost at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. “I believe Mark Brister has just the right background and qualifications to be president of OBU,” Newport wrote. “From my perspective, Mark has the right theological and denominational perspective for OBU and Oklahoma. I believe Mark Brister is a person uniquely equipped for this strategic position.”
A graduate of Baylor University, Waco, Texas, Brister received his master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southwestern Seminary, where he received the Albert Venting Jr. Memorial Award as the outstanding graduate in the school of theology.
Brister was an adjunct professor at Southwestern seminary, 1977-80, and has been a guest professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwestern Seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Missouri, and the Baptist Theological Seminary of Eastern Africa. He has served as a trustee at Houston Baptist University and Louisiana College, where he was chairman of the business affairs committee.
He grew up in a family of educators. His father, C.W. Brister, is the Warren Hultgren distinguished professor of pastoral care at Southwestern Seminary and his mother, Gloria, has been a mathematics teacher and administrator in the Fort Worth public schools. His grandmother, the late Elaine Holmes Brister, was professor of history at Louisiana College.
Brister has served on the Southern Baptist Convention Committee on Committees and on the Southern Baptist “Reaching America for Christ” Task Force. He recently has served on the Glorieta/Ridgecrest Capital Campaign Cabinet for the Baptist Sunday School Board. He also has been involved in volunteer missions in Scotland, Kenya, Mexico and Romania. For three consecutive years his sermons were published in The Zondervan Pastor’s Annual.
Brister’s wife, Rhonda, directs New Orleans Seminary’s satellite program in Shreveport and earlier served on the faculty at Southwest Baptist University when they lived in Bolivar. The Bristers have two children: Barrett Nugent, born in 1981, and Austin Andrew, born in 1986.
Agee, OBU president since 1982, will become president emeritus, continuing to assist OBU with the leadership transition and with fund-raising and alumni relationships. Agee also has been elected as executive director of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools, a position he will assume June 1. ASBCS is an association of 65 Southern Baptist-related seminaries, colleges, universities, Bible colleges and academies.
The seven-member search committee which recommended Brister to the trustees included Hammons; Jerry Fielder and Nadine McPherson, both of Oklahoma City; Ray Finch and Michael Gabbert, both of Tulsa; James Robinson of Clinton; and Skip Robinson of Durant. Ex officio members were Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; Max Brattin, chairman of the faculty council; Elizabeth Howell Dillard; president of the Alumni Association; and Sarah Sitzes, president of the Student Government Association.