NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Two faculty additions by presidential appointment were announced at the April 11-12 trustee meeting of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, along with reports of God at work.
Appointed were Don Wilton, recently retired senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C., and W. Andrew “Ted” Williams, coming from his position as pastor of Galilee Baptist Church, Zachary, La.
Jamie Dew, NOBTS president, welcomed trustees by reporting excitement on campus due to spiritual formation taking place.
“This is a very vibrant season of life right now,” Dew said.
Dew pointed to the more than 6,500 Gospel conversations held by students this academic year that yielded more than 800 decisions, a student-led prayer walk in the community, and student participation in Serve Day where students and faculty participate in door-to-door evangelism and in various service projects in the community.
The spring semester Serve Day came the day following the meeting, and trustees whose schedule permitted them to stay participated.
Returning to the NOBTS faculty, Wilton was appointed ministry-based professor of preaching and pastoral ministries. Wilton served on the NOBTS faculty as associate professor of evangelistic preaching from 1987-1993, and holds an M.Div. and a Th.D. from NOBTS. He served 30 years at FBC Spartanburg.
Wilton’s decades-long ministry has spanned continents through his preaching and teaching in evangelism conferences, on academic campuses and churches, in crusades and revivals, and at many convention events. As president of The Encouraging Word television ministry, Wilton’s sermons reached into millions of homes globally.
Known as Billy Graham’s pastor, Wilton was close friends with Graham and served many years on faculty for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Schools of Evangelism and The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove.
Andrew “Ted” Williams was appointed associate vice president of auxiliary services and assistant professor of expository preaching. Since 2018, Williams has taught as adjunct faculty in the NOBTS and Leavell College prison extension center. He holds an M.Div. and a Ph.D. in preaching from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Professionally, Williams has directed and administered construction, maintenance and housing projects.
Trustees took a moment away from business to express appreciation to Fred Luter Jr., pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, with a standing ovation. Last year, trustees voted to rename the seminary’s student center in his honor. The building will be dedicated June 14, following the close of the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
Luter expressed his gratitude to the trustees saying, “So many others are worthy. … I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
Faculty members granted rank promotion were Jeff Audirsch to professor of Biblical studies, Rhyne Putman to professor of theology and culture and Tyler Wittman to associate professor of theology.
Tenure was granted to Alan Bandy, professor of New Testament and Greek; Blake Newsom, associate professor of expository preaching; and Tyler Wittman, associate professor of theology.
In other action, trustees approved a Korean track and a Spanish track for the Bachelor of Arts in Church Ministry, with classes to be taught in each language. They also approved a specialization for ministry to women in the doctor of ministry program.
Wearing jeans and a tee-shirt reading “From the Parishes to All People,” Dew welcomed SBC President Bart Barber chapel speaker for the NOBTS Serve Day April 13.
At least three professions of faith resulted as 185 students, staff, faculty members and trustees – joined by Barber, his wife and daughter – shared the Gospel and served in the community. The group represented the largest number of participants to date for the once-a-semester event.
Dew’s tee-shirt with the NOBTS Global Mission Center tagline reminded listeners that believers are called to take the Gospel out from Louisiana’s parishes (counties) to all nations.
“There’s nothing out there [in the world] that will ever give us hope. There’s only brokenness and there’s only sorrow and there’s only destruction,” Dew said. “[But], Jesus is sweet. … As people who have tasted that redemption and have a burden for the brokenness out there, we go out into that.”
Evangelism teams shared the Gospel on the streets and door to door. Others prayer walked, ministered to the homeless community, served at a nursing home and at the Baptist Friendship House, a home for women in transition.
“I always enjoy Serve Day because it really is a reflection of our true culture at NOBTS and Leavell College,” said Thomas Strong, vice president of spiritual formation and student life. “We aren’t a group of individuals who serve when we have a special day. It is a part of who we are – we are servants and we are preparing servants.”
In his chapel message, Barber drew from Luke 12:27-38 to show that serving others is “both eschatological and theological.” Barber encouraged students to serve that day “with heaven in mind.”
Barber explained that because believers can depend on God for the final closing of history, they can feel free to invest in others’ lives. He added that believers must be prepared to serve others by taking up Christ’s attitude, as shown in Philippians 2, and that serving others is the way to remain alert for Christ’s return.
Believers are called to be servants to all, even those whose circumstances are of their own making, Barber said. He added, “Don’t just keep that in mind for today. Let us resolve to hide it in our hearts.”
Opportunities to share the Gospel came as teams prayer walked through neighborhoods.
“I saw God use the NOBTS students as His hands and feet,” said Shannon Brown, NOBTS trustee. “We went out to prayer walk, but they also used the opportunities that God gave to pray with people, share the Gospel, and even help an older woman that lives alone with her yard work. God’s timing was perfect.”
Mar’krisseanna Span, an M.Div. student, shared the Gospel with a couple on their porch. The man was an atheist, and the woman identified as a believer. The woman expressed surprise that the NOBTS team had come to the neighborhood. When Span followed up with the woman later, the woman told Span she had gone into her house and thanked God the NOBTS team had come.