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NOBTS trustees expands program for furloughing SBC missionaries

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The missionary-in-residence program has been enhanced at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to offer not only housing but also discounted tuition to furloughing missionaries.
All missionaries appointed by the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board will be eligible for the tuition discount. The executive board of the seminary’s trustees approved the recommendation from NOBTS administrators during their semiannual meeting, Dec. 8.
New Orleans Seminary, together with First Baptist Church in New Orleans, maintains the J.D. and Lillian Grey Missionary House, constructed on the seminary campus in 1980 through funds provided by First Baptist, New Orleans, in honor of the Greys.
The building includes two completely furnished townhouses and the library of Grey, 40-year pastor of First Baptist, New Orleans. Another fully furnished apartment for missionaries is available on campus in the same building with the seminary’s Intercessory Prayer Center.
While these three residences are available to any furloughing IMB missionary, “priority will be given to missionaries whose furloughing activity will be focused on theological preparation,” whether as a student or as a guest professor, Steve Lemke, seminary provost, said.
“Our missionary-in-residence program not only will enhance the missionary’s effectiveness through further theological training, but also will afford an opportunity for furloughing missionaries to represent the cause of world missions to our seminary community,” Lemke said, through such events as the annual Global Missions Emphasis Week and monthly meetings of the Student Missions Fellowship.
Furloughing missionaries will be able to take advantage of the tuition discount not only at the main campus, but also at any of New Orleans Seminary’s 13 extension center campuses, currently located in Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala.; Orlando, Graceville, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; Decatur, Ga.; Jackson and Clinton, Miss.; Baton Rouge and Shreveport, La.; and Cleveland, Tenn. While the seminary does not operate housing in those cities, many local churches often own houses specifically for use by furloughing missionaries, which may be reserved upon request.
In other business, the trustee executive committee:
— approved an eight-point policy to allow the consideration of students applying for admission or transfer of academic credit from non-accredited colleges or universities. The new policy, which came as a recommendation from the faculty, will appear in the graduate and undergraduate catalogs for the 1999-2000 academic year.
— heard of the appointment of J. Michael Garrett of Jackson, Tenn., to become director of the seminary’s John T. Christian Library, which is one of the largest collections of theological books in the Southeast and the largest theological library in the nine-state region.
Garrett, who has been assistant director since September, previously was divinity librarian at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Ala., 1995-98, and was manager of Cokesbury’s Beeson Divinity Bookshop, 1996-98. A graduate of Union University, Jackson, Tenn., with a bachelor of arts degree in religion, Garrett completed the master of divinity degree at Beeson and the master of library and information studies degree at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Garrett is married to the former Amy Wright, also of Jackson, Tenn.; they are expecting their first child in May 1999.
Ken Taylor, who has directed the seminary’s library since 1991, was appointed this past summer to direct the seminary’s Supervised Ministry Program and was named assistant professor of urban missions, occupying the Chester L. Quarles Chair of Missions.
— had a tour of the seminary’s Sellers Music Building, where extensive renovation is under way in Recital Hall to turn the room into a world-class choral classroom and performance center. The seminary’s development office is currently raising funds to increase scholarship money available specifically for music students and to complete renovation of the chapel pipe organ.
— heard a report concerning the seminary’s Y2K compliancy, now approximately 70 percent complete. The seminary has owned its own Internet server — nobts.edu — for the past three years.
A leader among theological schools for innovative use of technology in education, NOBTS operates an ever-expanding Information and Technology Center, with a full-service student computer lab and a suite of computerized classrooms for everything from Greek exegesis classes to doctoral-level statistics courses, as well as introductory computer courses.
Many computer-savvy churches are linking their church Internet sites to the NOBTS site to benefit from the only interactive gospel presentation available on the Internet, designed last year by the NOBTS Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Growth.
“NOBTS, along with the SBC as a denomination, is taking the Y2K situation very seriously,” Kelley said, “and we are doing all we can to do everything we can not only to be Y2K compliant, but also to be pure in our use of the Internet as a resource to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments through the local church and its ministries.”
— met with representatives from Page Southerland Page, the architectural firm selected in October to design a new campus master plan for New Orleans Seminary. The firm has been conducting intense surveys and interviews of a cross-section of the seminary community since November.
“As I have travelled extensively across the United States this fall, meeting with our alumni and speaking at many of the Baptist state conventions, I have heard repeatedly from our alumni and friends of the seminary nothing but an overwhelmingly positive response concerning our determination in March to keep this campus in New Orleans,” Kelley said.
“There is a great deal of excitement because of our determination to stay, which I pray will be sustained through the great deal of hard work involved with repairing the facilities and infrastructure and the great deal of money needed to make necessary improvements as we prepare this campus for the 21st century.”
The next meeting of the NOBTS board of trustees will be March 16-18, 1999, at the seminary’s main campus, with priority agenda items being a proposal on a completely redesigned master of divinity degree program and a presentation of the seminary’s new master plan.
New Orleans Seminary’s fall enrollment figures will be released together with the other SBC seminaries in January, the standard reporting time for such statistics.

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  • Debbie Moore