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NOBTS UPDATES: Revised fall class schedule released; floodwaters receding; National Guard picks campus as base

ATLANTA (BP)–Continuing the fall semester has been a top priority for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary since Hurricane Katrina hit two weeks ago. On Sept. 13, the seminary posted the revised fall class schedule its website, www.nobts.edu, signaling that classes will resume, with students already beginning to enroll.

“All of our [fall] classes are continuing,” Ken Keathley, associate dean of graduate studies at NOBTS, said from the seminary’s Atlanta-area temporary offices. “If a student is able to attend this semester [or participate in online coursework], we’ve made it possible for them to continue.”

Students who continue at NOBTS this fall will receive a 20 percent tuition rebate for the semester. Extra fees for dropping and adding courses, Internet courses, extension center courses and Saturday classes also have been waived for displaced students.

The revised classes start Oct. 3, so Keathley encouraged students to begin scheduling classes immediately. He also said the administration is working hard to accommodate students scheduled for graduation in December.

FLOODWATERS RECEDING –- New campus photographs from New Orleans Baptist Seminary reveal that efforts to pump stagnant water from the city are working. Taken Sept. 9 near Leavell Chapel, the photographs show that floodwaters are receding more rapidly than expected.

NATIONAL GUARD SETS UP AT NOBTS -– Even while the scenes of lawlessness and crime in post-Katrina New Orleans continued to pour from televisions across the country, the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was secure.

A group of Oregon National Guardsmen stationed in the Gentilly neighborhood where the seminary is located made NOBTS their command post. The front of campus had escaped flooding. This small island in the midst of a city under water provided a perfect staging area for troops and equipment.

Endel Lee, an NOBTS professor and military chaplain, worked with seminary officials and the Guard commander to make the arrangement possible. Lee, who returned from a deployment with the Marines in Iraq on Aug. 5, was deployed as a chaplain with the Coast Guard shortly after Katrina struck.

The troops quickly moved in Sept. 7 and secured the seminary campus.

SBTC DONATES DIGITAL CAMERA -– When Gary Ledbetter, editor of the Southern Baptist Texan newspaper, heard that New Orleans Seminary needed a good digital camera, he acted. Ledbetter presented school officials with a new Nikon digital camera during the faculty retreat at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 10.

“I was overwhelmed by Gary Ledbetter’s response to our need,” said Gary D. Myers, director of public relations at NOBTS. “The Southern Baptist Texan has been an important partner with our seminary through the years, but their staff went above and beyond the call this time. We are truly grateful.”

GUIDESTONE HELPS FACULTY/STAFF KEEP BENEFITS -– New Orleans Seminary President Chuck Kelley received a special visit Sept. 9 on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, visited with Kelley to share plans to assist the seminary with faculty and staff benefits.

“We are profoundly grateful to GuideStone Financial Resources for the great assistance they have given us in making it possible to continue benefits for our faculty and staff,” Kelley said. “They will be doing something very significant for us.”

Details of the assistance strategy were not available at press time.

PERSONAL RESPONSES FLOW TO NOBTS OFFICES -– A steady flow of very personal responses to New Orleans Seminary’s displaced students is pouring into the school’s temporary offices in Decatur, Ga.

Donna Ware’s third grade Sunday School class from Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., collected $10 for seminary students affected by Hurricane Katrina. Along with the money given by her young students, Ware sent six handmade bookmarks.

Each bookmark, lovingly made by a third-grader, was printed with the text of Joshua 1:9 and adorned the gifts with personal drawings.

At Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. students in a Thursday night class Sept. 1 prayed for the city of New Orleans and the NOBTS family. After the prayer time, the students and their professor wrote notes of encouragement to the seminary students, faculty and staff who have been displaced.

“We grieve with you in the loss of friends and relatives and we pray that you will recover from this devastation stronger and more resolute to God’s calling,” one student wrote.

“Only our faith and trust in a loving and gracious God could pull us through this time of devastation,” another student wrote. “Even though hundreds of miles separate us, our hearts are united in Jesus Christ.”

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