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Mohler to Southern’s trustees: Seminary in season of ‘fulfillment’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Borrowing from the Old Testament theme of promise and the New Testament theme of fulfillment, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary the Louisville, Ky., school is enjoying a season blessed by both themes.
“We are standing on the shoulders of giants who founded this institution and successive generations,” Mohler said, during the April 20-22 semiannual trustee meeting. “We are standing in the fulfillment of what I believe those founders would have wished to be so … had they been able to ask or to think looking this far into the future.”
With the promise of becoming “the finest and most faithful institution serving the church” and producing ministers who are mature, capable, faithful and grounded in the Word, Mohler told trustees the seminary took dramatic steps toward fulfilling those goals this year.
Mohler called the seminary’s faculty “the flagship evangelical faculty to be found in any institution of theological education anywhere. … I cannot tell you how much it means to me as president to see colleagues of this quality, of this conviction, of this academic scholarship dedicated to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, founded upon the total truthfulness of his Word, coming to join the Southern Seminary family.”
The election of four faculty and the appointment of two others highlighted the seminary’s steps to further enhance the faculty, Mohler said.
Three professors were elected who had been teaching at Southern under presidential appointment. Thomas A. Schreiner was elected with tenure as professor of New Testament interpretation. Mohler called Schreiner “an outstanding Christian scholar.” Mark A. Seifrid, whom Mohler said has taught “with distinction” at Southern since 1992, was elected with tenure as associate professor of New Testament interpretation. C. Benjamin Mitchell was elected to a tenure track as assistant professor of Christian ethics. Mohler said Mitchell was “without peer in his field” of bioethics.
In addition, trustees elected Bruce Ware professor of Christian theology with tenure. The trustee executive committee elected Ware to the faculty at its February meeting. Mohler called Ware “a man of very rare ability.”
Mohler also announced two faculty appointments. Warren Benson was appointed senior professor of Christian education and leadership. Benson, a professor and vice president of doctoral programs at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, is one of the most “influential figures in evangelical Christian education,” Mohler said. Roger Palms, editor of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Decision magazine, was appointed visiting professor. He will teach the ministry of writing in the school of Christian education and leadership.
The February appointment of British ethicist and theologian David Cook to a five-year contract as professor of Christian ethics was also noted by Mohler as further evidence of the faculty’s distinction. He called Cook “one of the leading scholars in the world of ethics.” Cook will supervise doctoral students, as well as teach Ph.D. seminars and master’s-level courses.
Mohler also announced three faculty promotions. Jack R. Cunningham was promoted to J.M. Frost professor of Christian education. Thom S. Rainer was elevated to professor of evangelism and church growth. Rainer also serves as dean of the seminary’s Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. J. Mark Terry was promoted to A.P. and Faye Stone professor of missions and evangelism.
A major search is now under way to fill a Christian preaching faculty position, Mohler said. The school will add strength in the coming years by adding junior members to the faculty, he projected.
Mohler said new, innovative degree programs were another indication of the season of promise and fulfillment. The faculty has undertaken the complete renovation of the master of divinity curriculum, a step he called an “allergy” for most faculties. In contrast to most seminaries, Mohler said Southern had strengthened its requirements in biblical languages and the classical disciplines of biblical studies, theology and church history and apologetics because “the minister, if he is to be thoroughly furnished, must be well-grounded in the Word.”
“We pray for a generation of expository preachers to rise from the alumni of Southern Seminary in such a way that our churches come to know that a Southern Seminary graduate means one who is committed not only in terms of the knowledge of the Word but the ability and the vision and the commitment to preach that Word in season and out of season,” Mohler declared.
A new master of divinity track in biblical and theological studies will attract students “eager to develop particular expertise in biblical and theological areas.” Mohler said it will be a good challenge for the seminary to keep up with “students who know that they want to do whatever it takes to learn all they can possibly learn to be all that by God’s grace they can be in the service of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mohler told trustees the Association of Theological Schools, the seminary’s accrediting agency, recently approved an innovative doctor of education degree in which much of the work for the degree will be done on the Internet and by other nontraditional means. “And it was very gratifying for me to hear directly from the ATS that they were proud that this new program was taking place in the institution which had the longest pedigree of doctoral education of any theological seminary in the nation.”
The February establishment of the Carl F.H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement is “one of the most exciting developments” in recent months at Southern, Mohler said. The only institute of its kind and the only entity to carry Henry’s name, Mohler said it “will perpetuate (Henry’s) ministry of evangelical engagement” with the issues of the day.
Mohler said it was “heartwarming” to see about 125 women enrolled in the new Seminary Wives’ Institute, which his wife, Mary, directs. He predicted churches will be stronger, as will be the ministries of the pastors whose wives participate in the program.
Mohler reported on-campus student enrollment continues to grow at approximately 20 percent each semester. Mohler also reported a 68 percent increase in applications this spring for the James P. Boyce College of the Bible and a 12 percent increase in applications for the seminary.
Trustees approved a budget of $17,432,585, a 2.2 percent increase over last year’s budget, including: a $71,490 increase for the Boyce Bible College, $160,281 more student financial aid and up to a $425,000 increase in salaries. Trustees also increased the administration’s authorization to approve capital expenditures for capital projects from $10,000 to $20,000.
The budget also includes a 5 percent increase in fees for professional students. Matriculation fees for the professional degree program were increased to $105 per hour from $100, to $1,350 per semester from $1,250 for the research doctorate program and to $1,000 from $900 for the doctor of ministry program. Trustees also approved an increase of an average of 5 percent in student housing and a 3 percent increase in child-care fees.
The state of the seminary campus also shows signs of promise and fulfillment, Mohler said.
Mohler listed construction of a new building for the Graham School and the renovation of the Rice-Judson complex into a hotel-conference center as the top capital priorities for the immediate future. He said the seminary was in a “strong” financial position, in part because of more than $550,000 in annual gifts this year.
Trustees approved Mohler’s request for $2,456,269 to be taken from the seminary’s cash reserves, known as funds functioning as endowment (FFE), for three renovation projects on campus beginning in May:
— the $1,240,583 “Norton Phase 3” renovation, which includes the renovation of the largest classroom on campus; the transformation of Broadus lounge into a new chapel modeled after the First Baptist Church of Rhode Island, the first Baptist church in America; and the construction of a “connecting facility” to provide a lobby and handicap access to the west wing of Norton Hall.
— a $788,334 renovation of Sampey Hall and Mullins Hall to house the business services division offices currently located in the Carver building.
— a $427,352 refurbishing of Carver Hall to modernize the classrooms and prepare the dorm rooms for students of the new Boyce College. Carver will be updated “as enrollment in the new college sustains the need,” Mohler said.
Mohler said the new Broadus chapel will fill the seminary’s need for a worship space to accommodate crowds of about 250. It will also provide another site for videotaping students’ sermons in a church setting. An organ located in the music school building will be moved back to the Broadus chapel balcony.
Trustees also approved a request for $453,806 in FFE to repay a loan used for a renovation of the seminary’s Springdale apartments.
In other action, trustees:
— approved changes in the seminary’s charter eliminating ambiguous wording and giving the board clear direction in nominating interim trustees and naming the Southern Baptist Convention the sole member of the corporation, a change requested by the SBC Executive Committee.
— approved an increase of up to 4 percent in wages and salaries for faculty and staff.
— elected Bruce Benton, a businessman from Chattanooga, Tenn., and David Horner, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., as interim trustees.
— approved the audit subcommittee’s report and recommendation to continue to use Coopers and Lybrand as the seminary’s independent auditing firm.
— elected Ruffin Snow, minister of evangelism at First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla., chairman of the board of trustees; Roger Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif., first vice chairman and chairman of the executive committee; Dennis Saller, a Melbourne, Fla., dentist, second vice chairman; and Byron Boyer, from Louisville, Ky., secretary. Charles Barnes, a retired bank executive from Prospect, Ky., was re-elected chairman of the financial board.
— elected to three-year terms on the board executive committee were: Orman Simmons, a Little Rock, Ark., obstetrician/gynecologist; Jerry Rexroat, a retired educational consultant from Louisville, Ky.; John Pennington, pastor of First Baptist Church, Douglasville, Ga.; Otis Ingram, president of Ingram & LeGrand Lumber Co., Macon, Ga; and Jim Wilson, an Orlando, Fla., evangelist.
Elected to two-year terms were Fred Caffey, a retired dentist from Martinsville, Va., and Jerry Johnson, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
— honored Bob Johnson, who has “served with distinction as dean of the Boyce Bible School since 1990,” and retires July 31, a resolution noted.
— honored trustees John Hicks of Taylorsville, Ky., Carroll Karkalits of Lake Charles, La., and Paul Stam of Apex, N.C., who complete their tenures this year.

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  • David Porter