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Phil Roberts inaugurated as Midwestern’s 4th president

KANSAS CITY (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary inaugurated its fourth president, R. Philip Roberts, during a ceremony Oct. 22 in First Baptist Church, Raytown, Mo. The installation service was held in conjunction with the regular board of trustees meeting Oct. 22-24 at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.

About 400 people attended the ceremony, including leaders from Southern Baptist Convention entities and seminaries across the nation. Roberts’ former pastor, Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., delivered the inaugural address, titled, “A Good Minister of Jesus Christ.”

Hunt outlined three characteristics of a good minister: He is noble, needed and nourished. “I’ve known Phil Roberts to be a noble man of God who keeps a hot heart for God. A good minister is characterized by his concern for the welfare of others, and a good minister must take care to nourish his own soul on the truths which he is supplying to others.

“Dr. Roberts and his staff have a wonderful opportunity to take the Word of God and put it in the minds of students,” Hunt said. “I challenge you and I charge you, Dr. Roberts, to instruct all those God sends your way in the good news of the faith.”

Missouri Baptist Convention President Robert Collins opened the service with prayer, and Midwestern’s student body president, Joseph Nichols, read Matthew 28:16-20. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Kenneth Hemphill from Fort Worth, Texas, offered a prayer for the nations, followed by the reading of 2 Chronicles 7:1-14 by George Tous van Nijkerk, chairman of the Annuity Board’s trustees. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. prayed for the United States.

Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, delivered greetings to the president. “God said to the people of Israel: ‘I will do a new thing.’ No doubt, he has the same word for Midwestern Seminary on this solemn, yet exciting, occasion,” Chapman said. “Today is a new beginning, with new leadership, new vision, new enthusiasm and renewed determination not to grow weary in well-doing.”

C.M. “Buster” Brown, chairman of Midwestern’s board of trustees, delivered the charge and investiture to Roberts, whose family — wife Anna and children Naomi and Mark — joined him on stage as he kneeled to receive the presidential medallion. His brother, Roger Roberts, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan., offered the inaugural prayer.

In his response, Phil Roberts quoted from Colossians 2:6-7, saying those were his life verses. “Not only does that verse speak of the initial experience with Jesus Christ, it also speaks to the growing and fellowshipping with the Lord Jesus Christ. The pledge we make as a seminary is that not only will we train students to bring others to faith in Jesus Christ, but we also will help them in rejoicing in him, knowing him and walking in him. So, as your president, I ask that you will pray for me to be a leader in all those areas.”

Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., and Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, also were on the program. Music was provided by Scott White, Jeff Anderson and Tony Johnson, all of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., and Doug Manley, instructor of church music at Midwestern Seminary.

Other inaugural events were a worship service Oct. 21 in First Baptist Church, Raytown, a luncheon Oct. 22 at Embassy Suites, Kansas City, and a chapel service and student reception Oct. 23.

Southern Baptist Convention President James Merritt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church, Snellville, delivered the message at the worship service. For the luncheon, Patterson was master of ceremonies, and three representatives of Baptist entities delivered greetings and personal memories of associating with Roberts: Robert E. Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board; Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board; and Lewis Drummond of the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

Mohler was the guest speaker during the Oct. 23 chapel service. “A genuine theological seminary,” Mohler said, “is an achievement. It depends on three things: truth — the inerrant, infallible Word of God; trust — between the churches and the seminaries; and time — in learning and in maturity.”

(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net.

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  • Stacey Hamby