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Mohler’s 25 years at Southern Seminary celebrated

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees presented a resolution of appreciation to R. Albert Mohler Jr. to celebrate his 25th anniversary as president of the institution during a special chapel service Oct. 9.

A sermon by Atlanta-area pastor James Merritt and reflections from Mohler, who became the seminary’s president in 1993, also were part of the celebration at the Louisville, Ky., campus.

Trustee vice chairman and North Carolina pastor Clint Pressley presented the resolution, reading the text to a filled-to-capacity Alumni Memorial Chapel. Mohler received the framed document alongside his wife Mary.

The resolution notes key milestones and qualities of Mohler’s presidency and concludes with these words: “Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary express their appreciation to R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his unyielding commitment to God’s Word, his zeal for the Great Commission, and his twenty-five years of visionary and effective leadership of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”

The full text of the resolution is included below.

Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., preached from Nehemiah 6 recounting Nehemiah’s rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after they had fallen into disrepair.

Merritt drew parallels from Nehemiah’s ministry to Mohler’s tenure as Southern Seminary’s president — specifically to his task in his earliest years of returning the seminary to the doctrinal fidelity established by its founders.

Mohler became president amid theological controversy at the seminary over the inerrancy of the Bible. He was elected by the trustees to realign the Southern Baptist school with the confessional identity of its founders and the beliefs of Southern Baptists.

Merritt made three observations about leadership from the passage: Leaders must (1) hold strong convictions; (2) handle sinister criticism; and (3) have steadfast courage. For each, Merritt told stories from Mohler’s presidency that demonstrated how he exemplified those qualities.

“It took guts to rebuild the walls of a city at the threat of your life,” Merritt said. “It takes guts to rebuild the theological walls of a seminary when you are literally one David standing against the Goliaths of the media and the faculty and the student body and the community and public opinion.

“But one of the marks of a great leader is, when the battle is raging at its fiercest, great leaders don’t look for a place to run. Great leaders look for a place to stand.”

The goal of leadership, Merritt said, is not worldly success, but faithfulness to God’s call. He concluded his sermon with this encouragement to Mohler:

“Dr. Mohler, the God that conceived you, the God that created you, the God that converted you, and the God who called you to this great work will one day — without question or doubt — say to you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ And when He does, I will be on the front row saying, ‘Amen.'”

‘Faithful Southern Baptists’

Following Merritt’s sermon, Mohler expressed his gratitude that, like Nehemiah and the wall of Jerusalem, he did not build the seminary but, rather, helped repair the work already done by faithful Southern Baptists before him.

“I’m so thankful that we didn’t have to go back and start on uncultivated land and with not one stone upon a stone — we could rebuild a wall that faithful Southern Baptists had built for so many generations,” Mohler said. “The wall did need to be rebuilt. It was, like Jerusalem, not what it had been. Its defenses were down and there was rubble that was an insult to the glory of God. But I want to say with humility: It was not our charge to build a wall that had never existed but to rather rebuild a wall.”

Mohler also thanked those who played significant roles in his work as president during the past 25 years. He specifically honored his wife Mary and former senior vice presidents David S. Dockery, Danny Akin and Russell Moore.

Video of the chapel service will be available at equip.sbts.edu. The seminary’s faculty also adopted a resolution in Mohler’s honor during an Oct. 8 anniversary banquet.

Text of trustee resolution

Full text of the resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Whereas, R. Albert Mohler Jr. was elected as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on March 26, 1993, and inaugurated on October 15, 1993; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler has restored Southern Seminary to the Founders’ commitment of a confessional institution committed to scriptural fidelity, adherence to the Abstract of Principles, and steadfast allegiance to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and its confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message; and

Whereas, under Dr. Mohler’s leadership Southern Seminary, with over 5,500 students enrolled, now has the largest enrollment of all Association of Theological Schools’ accredited seminaries; and

Whereas, there are presently more students training for pastoral ministry at Southern Seminary than has been documented at any one time, in any one place in the history of the Christian church; and

Whereas, during Dr. Mohler’s twenty-five-year tenure as president of Southern Seminary, degrees have been conferred to over 11,000 students—pastors, missionaries, and gospel leaders serving churches throughout the United States and taking the gospel to the unreached on every inhabited continent; and

Whereas, under Dr. Mohler’s leadership, Southern Seminary is financially sound because of a three-hundred-percent growth in budget, a forty-million-dollar increase in endowment funds, and a renovation of its campus facilities that contributes to the highest quality residential experience; and

Whereas, in an age when many seminaries are being forced to close, Southern Seminary continues to thrive because Dr. Mohler has demonstrated innovative leadership as Southern Seminary has embraced new delivery methods of online learning while maintaining the residential experience as the gold standard for theological education; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler has been an exemplary ambassador for Southern Seminary in the public square as he has modeled faithful cultural engagement from a biblical worldview through published works, mainstream media appearances, conferences, lectures, and his own digital platforms; and

Whereas, Mary Mohler, Dr. Mohler’s wife and ministry partner since 1983, has made an incalculable investment in Southern Seminary through her founding in 1997 of the Seminary Wives Institute, training over 2,500 wives of students to better equip them for their unique roles as ministry partners to their husbands; and

Whereas, the Mohlers have raised two children, Katie and Christopher, on Southern Seminary’s campus; Katie is now the faithful wife to Riley and loving mother to Benjamin Miller and Henry Albert; and Christopher, in May of 2015, graduated from Boyce College, becoming the first child of a seminary president to graduate from the school; and

Whereas, Dr. Mohler continues to lead Southern Seminary and Boyce College as the premier institution for the training of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders; equip Christians around the world to think through theological and cultural issues from a biblical worldview; and be a trusted voice for evangelicals in the public square.

Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary express their appreciation to R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his unyielding commitment to God’s Word, his zeal for the Great Commission, and his twenty-five years of visionary and effective leadership of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    About the Author

  • SBTS communications

    Compiled by Andrew J.W. Smith, who writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and S. Craig Sanders, who is manager of news and information at Southern Seminary.

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