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Patterson calls for evangelism school, undergrad college

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Citing a strong commitment to preaching the Gospel in North America and abroad, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson called for the establishment of a school of evangelism and missions and an undergraduate college during the April 6 trustee meeting at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary.

Patterson also asked trustees to approve the formation of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching, which will be overseen by David Allen, newly elected dean of the theology school.

Trustees approved the formation of the preaching center, while approving in principle the formation the evangelism and missions school and college.

The approval of the evangelism and missions school and college in principle allows seminary personnel to begin raising the funds necessary for both programs. Patterson estimated that the evangelism and missions school alone could cost as much as $10 million.

“We have had tremendous trustee, faculty and donor interest in this school. All of this confirms that the time is right to make this move,” Patterson said.

Patterson said he would like to nominate a dean for the evangelism and missions school in the fall, though “he would be a king without a country.” He said his goal is to house the school in a 3,000-seat chapel building that is, as of yet, not built. Patterson said it could take up to two years to fund the chapel building and evangelism and missions school.

He hopes to begin the undergraduate college on at the Fort Worth campus by January 2005. The college will change the look and feel of the campus, he said, noting, “The average age of students around this campus is about to drop significantly. You’ll see 17- or 18-year-olds traversing these halls.”

The college, which has not yet been named, will offer a Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies and possibly a track in the history of Western ideas. Patterson said he envisions the undergraduate college as a place where Southwestern “will meet the unique needs of those who are preparing for the ministry.” In that respect, he said, the seminary would continue to abide by its “convention assignment.”

Southwestern’s undergraduate college will be the fifth such institution established by a Southern Baptist seminary. New Orleans, Southeastern and Southern seminaries have offered undergraduate degrees for some time. Trustees of Midwestern Seminary voted March 15 to establish a college of ministry.

Patterson said the college would not be in competition with other Baptist-related schools in Texas, such as Dallas Baptist University and Criswell College.

“I do not envision this as competition with Dallas Baptist University or Criswell College. DBU has a massive program, multiple majors with the intention of preparing people for all walks of life. As for Criswell, I desire for them to succeed marvelously. With 6.5 billion people on the face of the earth, there is plenty of work to do in missions in pastoral ministry,” Patterson said. “We are going to focus on preparation for vocational ministry at Southwestern.”

Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern, said the preaching center approved by trustees will emphasize the importance of expository preaching as a component of seminary education. The center also will provide training to those currently in ministry through conferences and seminars.

The goal of the preaching center, Patterson said, will be to continue promoting the use of exposition as that method of preaching that “must recognize the sufficiency of Scripture and to teach people how to do profound exposition.” Patterson said he is excited to have an excellent preaching faculty at the seminary in Allen; Steven Smith, the son of former Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith; Calvin Pearson and Al Fasol.

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  • Gregory Tomlin