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Patterson makes first faculty appointments

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s President Paige Patterson has made his first appointments to the faculty of the Fort Worth campus for the spring semester.

The appointments of Steven Smith to the theology school and Octavio Esqueda to the educational ministries school mark the beginning of Patterson’s strategy to recruit faculty who have both impeccable academic credentials and a church-based ministry calling.

At his inauguration last fall, Patterson outlined his vision for faculty additions.

“We shall attempt in our program of Christian education to have a cutting-edge program that will instruct people in how best to effectively teach the Bible, Christian witnessing, Baptist history and Baptist missions. [And] we shall, by the grace of God, teach the clear, unadulterated, exciting exposition of God’s Word as the appropriate and desperately needed method of preaching in our day,” Patterson said.

Steven Smith comes to the theology school as a professor of Christian preaching, having finished an eight-year tenure as the senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Richmond, VA.

A graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., with a doctorate from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Smith brings to the faculty a passion for expository preaching and a commitment to evangelism and missions. The son of former Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith, the younger Smith has distinguished himself as a pastor, theologian and denominational leader.

Smith has served on the Committee on Committees, the Committee on Resolutions and as the president of the pastors’ conference for the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. He also has published articles for various journals of ministry, theology and cultural commentary.

During his pastorate at Salem Baptist Church, Smith led his congregation to plant a strategic Hispanic mission church in Chesterfield County, Va.

Smith’s experience and expertise give Patterson high hopes for the influence he will have on Southwestern students preparing for the call to preach.

“In keeping with our plans to build a great tradition of expository preaching at SWBTS, we are delighted to have Dr. Steven Smith begin this semester. His preaching experience and years in the pastorate has demonstrated exactly the kind of preaching tradition we want to create. His doctoral dissertation focused on Francois Fenelon, the famous French preacher noted for his work on homiletics. Thus, he is uniquely prepared to help our young men learn to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ,” Patterson said.

Esqueda, meanwhile, is a graduate of the University of Guadalajara in Mexico who received a master of arts in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary and a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of North Texas in 2003. While completing his academic training, Esqueda published numerous articles in both English and Spanish theological journals.

The appointment of Esqueda marks the addition of another faculty member able to use bilingual skills in English and Spanish to train the culturally diverse student population that Patterson hopes to equip for ministry in the years to come.

Since coming to the United States to begin his theological training at Dallas Seminary, Esqueda has been teaching Spanish-language biblical and theological studies courses to the growing Hispanic population of north Texas. He also has been actively involved in overseas mission projects, serving in Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela to equip pastors and Christian leaders in areas where little if any theological training is available.

Southwestern Provost Craig Blaising is encouraged to see additions to the faculty who demonstrate academic skill and are equally committed to the evangelistic purpose that Southwestern Seminary seeks to fulfill.

“Dr. Esqueda is one of the brightest young scholars in the field of Christian education today,” Blaising said. “He brings to this discipline a strong foundation in biblical exposition, a Christ-centered love for people and unique insight into the issues of Christian higher education, especially in the Hispanic culture.”

Both appointed faculty members will begin their classroom instruction when the seminary begins the spring semester on Jan. 15.

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  • Benjamin S. Cole