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New IMB funding plan to help seminary profs serve overseas

SHREVEPORT, La. (BP)–More Southern Baptist seminary professors will be able to minister in strategic ways at Baptist seminaries overseas because of a $500,000 allocation made by International Mission Board trustees.

The board already was providing travel funding for professors to take sabbaticals overseas for four months to a year to fill strategic needs, said Sam James, the board’s vice president for leadership development. But because of responsibilities with classes, most professors can’t be away for four months or more.

With the new Seminary Professors Abroad program, approved during the trustees’ March 8-10 meeting in Shreveport, La., those professors now will have the opportunity to serve from four weeks to four months, teaching in Baptist seminaries, participating in leadership training, Theological Education by Extension, church planting and more — with the travel money provided by the board.

Funds for the emphasis will come from the IMB’s Mobilization Assistance Program, which since 1998 has provided $1.2 million to help Southern Baptist leaders and students participate in their first overseas missions project. Missions entities on the field where the professors serve will provide in-country expenses.

The reason behind all funding of professors’ service overseas is to bring that missions message back to campus, James said.

“Every seminary campus is working to achieve a real missions ethos,” he said. “We would like to help them achieve that ethos to the end that every student who graduates from the seminary would know how to develop a truly globally aware, missions-involved church, or that every student would at least consider going to the mission field. Professors involved in this program could contribute significantly to that end.”

The board wants to offer overseas experiences to all professors.

“Most missions professors already go overseas on assignments, but professors in other disciplines seldom have the opportunity to meet strategic needs overseas,” James said. “We’re hoping that all professors in all of the disciplines will have an opportunity to serve in a strategic assignment of some kind overseas.”

A case in point is James Chancellor, professor of philosophy and religion at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“Over the past three years I have visited and lectured at our Baptist seminaries in Korea and Singapore, taught for five months at the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary (BTS), and taught short term three week courses at Malaysian BTS and Nigerian BTS,” Chancellor said.

“Aside from the contributions I have been allowed to make to the ongoing mission of the church, these teaching experiences have opened my eyes even further to the vitality and strength of the church in the ‘other world’ and to the value and necessity of sound theological education in the mission context.

“I strongly encourage all seminary faculty to avail themselves of this excellent opportunity to serve and to grow.”

For more information on Seminary Professors Abroad, contact [email protected] or [email protected].
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: PROF ON MISSION.

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  • Jenny Rogers