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Plans for new Southwestern chapel announced by Patterson at luncheon

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Four hundred alumni and friends of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary were on hand for President Paige Patterson’s first address to alumni since his election as president of the Texas seminary in 2003.

Speaking to the June 16 luncheon held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, Patterson expressed his excitement at coming back to Southwestern and living in Texas again.

It is like coming “full circle,” said Patterson, who was born in Fort Worth while his father, T.A. Patterson, was a student at the seminary.

Setting forth his vision for Southwestern, Patterson said he wants the seminary to promote its programs in missions and evangelism and build a new chapel to house the school of evangelism and missions and the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching.

“Along with the addition of our new professors of preaching, a chapel will enable Southwestern to be the finest training center for preachers in the world,” he said.

The presence of a stand-alone chapel on the campus also will allow the seminary to hold graduation services on campus, which have traditionally been held at Travis Avenue Baptist Church. “We greatly appreciate Pastor Michael Dean and Travis Avenue Baptist Church for allowing us to use their church sanctuary for commencement services for all these years,” Patterson said.

Patterson said he anticipates enrollment reaching 5,000 students in the near future, requiring the seminary to grow to accommodate the influx.

Four distinguished alumni awards were presented during the luncheon.

Paul K.S. Kim was recognized for his contribution to evangelism and church planting. Kim planted his first church, called “Berkland” Baptist, near the border of Oakland and Berkley, Calif., in 1981 to reach out to Korean students studying at the University of California at Berkley.

While leading that church, Kim encouraged students to plant churches after they completed their education and moved on for jobs or graduate school.

Today, there are “Berkland Baptist Churches” that draw their members from the campuses of secular strongholds like Harvard and MIT as a direct result of Kim’s first church and his church-planting ministry.

“Dr. Kim’s church thrives in an area that most people wrote off as virtually impossible for evangelistic ministry,” Patterson said.

Distinguished alumni D. McCall “Mac” Brunson is well-known and well-regarded in Southern Baptist circles both for his preaching and his leadership of First Baptist Church of Dallas. Brunson pastored churches in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina before being called in 1999 to fill the pulpit once occupied by George W. Truett and W.A. Criswell.

He has met the challenge of ministering in such a large church with grace and skill, said outgoing SBC President Jack Graham. “Brunson is one of Southern Baptists’ most powerful preachers and church leaders,” Graham said.

For more than 19 years, three-time Southwestern graduate Claude Cone has ministered to Southern Baptist churches and pastors in New Mexico as the executive director of the state convention.

Cone’s mother died when he was 23 days old and his father was murdered when Cone was only 14 years old. His grandmother, whom he affectionately referred to as “Mama Cone,” took him in and raised him. “She read the Bible to me, took me to Sunday School and always had me in VBS,” Cone said. “When I was lost, she taught me how to trust Christ.”

Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., has led the church in his 17 years to triple in size, plant an additional campus in the neighboring city of Rogers and reach out to a worldwide audience through an extensive broadcast ministry over television networks and the Internet.

Floyd credited his wife, Jeana, and the hard-working members of his church for much of the success of First Baptist Springdale.

“Jeana has been a huge influence on my ministry. She is the absolute model pastor’s wife,” Floyd said. Additionally, his church has made a “commitment to the Word of God, and the mission of the church has increased by the year as we have committed ourselves to reaching northwest Arkansas, America and the world for Jesus Christ.”

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  • Brent Thompson