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Olive Baptist Church establishes faculty mission grant at NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP)—-Akin to seminary President Chuck Kelley’s belief that missions involvement will enrich the teaching of every professor, a new grant from a Florida church will help send NOBTS faculty members on international mission trips.

Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, presented the first Jeff Rousseau Seminary Missions Grant check to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary during an April 12 chapel service.

“We try to do this for our staff at Olive, Traylor said. “We know it changes our hearts when we get out on the mission field.” The church, he said, wanted to help offset the cost of mission trips so more NOBTS professors will be able to participate. “It is a joy to come on behalf of Olive Baptist Church to share a gift with New Orleans Seminary,” Traylor said. “This school means a lot to us.”

The grant, named for Olive’s late former pastor, will provide funds for one NOBTS faculty member and spouse to participate in an international missions trip each year. The church started a missionary offering several years ago and the mission committee voted to use a portion of the funds to start the annual grant.

Traylor said the grant honors Rousseau’s passion for missions and reflects the Olive Baptist commitment to mission involvement. Rousseau pastored Olive Baptist Church for 17 years. After leaving in 1971, Rousseau served in South Korea and in Portland, Ore. His last ministry stop was in Salt Lake City where he served as a church planter.

After retiring, Rousseau and his wife, Audrey, returned to Pensacola. Olive Baptist named him pastor emeritus. Rousseau died five years ago.

“Brother Jeff Rousseau was one of the most gracious men and he had a marvelous mind for memorizing Scripture,” Traylor said. “He was a wonderful peoples’ pastor. The people loved him all the days of his life.”

Kelley called Olive Baptist a great church and an important partner for NOBTS. In addition to the missionary grant, the church has hosted the seminary’s Pensacola Extension Center since 2003.

Kelley also commended Olive Baptist for its commitment to missions.

The church gives sacrificially to the mission cause around the world through the Cooperative Program, the Annie Armstrong Offering and the Lottie Moon Offering. The church also prays regularly for missionaries serving here and abroad and sends out mission teams on missions and ministry trips. While Traylor was presenting the grant at NOBTS, a team from Olive Baptist was traveling home from a mission trip to Central Asia. The church also participates in mission partnerships in the United States and around the world. Olive will sponsor a church start in Cleveland, Ohio, in the near future and provides ongoing support for theological training in Brazil, Romania and Russia.

Troy Bush, Olive’s minister of evangelism and missions, was instrumental in the development of NOBTS’ Moscow partnership with the International Mission Board. Through the partnership, which began in 2003, the seminary assists with theological education and church planting. The partnership, which involves both students and faculty members, runs through 2007.

“There is nothing that compares to the experience of being on the mission field,” Kelley said. “We always get to make an impact on the lives of those with whom we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So many times the deeper impact is made on the lives of those of us who go.”

“Almost every member of our faculty has gone on a mission trip within the past few years, often at personal and financial sacrifices,” said NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke. “The generous gift from Olive Baptist Church will help facilitate even more of these mission trips, particularly in our partnership with the Moscow IMB church planting team.”

Joe Sherrer, associate professor of adult education and chairman of the division of Christian education at NOBTS, has been named as the first recipient of the Rousseau Mission Grant. Sherrer and his wife, Liz, will lead a group of faculty and students to Moscow in May in conjunction with the seminary’s Moscow partnership.

The team will provide training in discipleship for Russian pastors and participate in evangelistic and church planting activities in and around Moscow.

“This gift allows us to guide a group of students to explore missions from a Christian education perspective,” Sherrer said. “I am delighted to have my wife experience missions with me. And, with several women students participating, it will be helpful to have my wife traveling with us.”