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Prepare for expansion, Patterson tells alumni

ST. LOUIS (BP)–With more than 6.5 billion people in the world today, Southern Baptists cannot go on with business as usual, Paige Patterson told Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s alumni luncheon June 12 in St. Louis.

The Southeastern Seminary president said it is imperative to double the enrollment in all of the six Southern Baptist seminaries in order to spread the gospel globally.

In order to bring in God-called men and women into the ministry, Patterson is spearheading a Calling Out the Called program on behalf of the six SBC seminaries.

Calling Out the Called encourages pastors across America to regularly challenge members of their congregations to answer God’s call into ministry. The fields are white for those who will answer the call, Patterson said, and men are needed to prepare and to go.

With approval June 10 from the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee for Southeastern to proceed with Scholarship on Fire, a ten-year $50 million fundraising campaign, the seminary is making room for the potential influx of students.

“We are involved in a significant period of the seminary,” Patterson said. Campus expansions will include a new library, bookstore, banquet hall, a student center that will house a medical clinic and biblical counseling center and a new fine arts building to be built on the back of Binkley Chapel.

The seminary has outgrown the current library, with more than 20,000 un-shelved books as evidence of the lack of sufficient shelf space, Patterson said.

Patterson also highlighted the bachelor of arts in biblical studies through The Southeastern College of Wake Forest, a school of the North Carolina-based seminary.

“It is a unique program of study that involves a double major in biblical studies and history of ideas,” Patterson explained. “This program is designed for serious students.”

Southeastern remains serious about North American and international evangelism, Patterson said. “We are ahead of schedule on how many churches we are planting in New Hampshire,” he reported. “There are more people attending Southern Baptist churches in New Hampshire on Sunday mornings than any other church, other than Catholic. This is entirely the result of your Southeastern student church planters.”

Patterson also said more than 500 students were commissioned in May to serve in international mission assignments this summer. Of the 500, 150 of the families commissioned will serve with the International Mission Board through the seminary’s two-plus-two missions apprentice program.

Almost all of the families will serve in a highly sensitive Third World country hostile to the gospel, Patterson said.

Patterson will leave during the week of June 17 to visit some of the Southeastern missionaries who work in politically unstable regions of the world.

“It is amazing to work with these students,” he said. “Materialism means nothing to them. They are completely sold out to Christ.”

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  • Kelly Davis