News Articles

ROUNDUP: Seminary luncheons in New Orleans highlight service, missions

MBTS luncheon addresses global lostness, honors ministry partners

By Brett Fredenberg

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Midwestern Seminary’s Alumni & Friends Luncheon at the SBC annual meeting featured a conversation with President Jason Allen and IMB President Paul Chitwood, presentations of the Presidential Merit Award and Alumnus of the Year, and an array of institutional updates and upcoming initiatives.

Photo by Josselyn Guillen

Following musical worship led by The Worship Initiative, Allen welcomed guests and provided updates on Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College.

He said, “For the 11th straight year, we’re celebrating another record enrollment. God has grown Midwestern Seminary from a total headcount of around 1,100 total students 11 years ago, to this year finishing at over 5,100 students enrolled in one of our degree programs. It is all of grace.”

Allen went on to mention key highlights for Southern Baptists to praise God for over the past year. Among these points, Allen spoke to the growth of Spurgeon College, which relaunched just five years ago.

“God is growing us numerically and blessing us programmatically,” he said, stating how the institution now has students in all 50 states and 64 countries. “We are honored to serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and thank each of you for being a part of the story in Kansas City.”

Following the institutional updates, Allen presented two special awards to partners of the seminary.

First, he announced the recipient of the 2023 Presidential Merit Award, John Yeats.

John Yeats has served as the Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) for 12 years and served for 25 years as the recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention. During his time at the MBC, Yeats led Missouri Baptists in paying off convention debt, organized staff and processes around the mission and vision of the MBC, established strategic missions partnerships, and more.

Having served alongside Yeats for many years, Allen said, “When I first started at Midwestern Seminary, I was told John Yeats would be a great partner. What I was told by way of expectation I quickly began to experience at the most personal level. I’m so grateful for the partnership with Dr. Yeats.”

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NOBTS alumni luncheon highlights service for Gospel’s sake

By Marilyn Stewart

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Jamie Dew, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College president, greeted a record-breaking 1350 alumni and friends in attendance at the alumni luncheon, June 14, and thanked them for giving him the “best job in the whole wide world.”

Photo by Robin Cornetet

Attendees received a free copy of Dew’s latest book, “Let This Mind be in You: Exploring God’s Call to Servanthood” and a prayer calendar highlighting ways to pray for the seminary.  

A special moment came at the beginning when Dew was presented with Oklahoma Baptist University’s Herschel H. Hobbs Award for Distinguished Denominational Service. The award is given in honor of Herschel H. Hobbs, author, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and a two-term president of the SBC. The OBU School of Theology and Ministry in named in Hobbs’ honor.

Heath Thomas, Oklahoma Baptist University president, presented the award and noted that the selection committee had voted unanimously to grant Dew the award.   

“This is a prestigious award in the life of our university,” Thomas said. “And OBU is delighted to honor our friends, Jamie Dew and his wife Tara, for their incredible leadership at New Orleans Seminary. They continue to lead effective revitalization – I would even call it a renaissance – at this strategic seminary.”

Thomas said it was “fitting” to give Dew the award and pledged to pray for “God’s continued blessing on his leadership and on his ministry.”

A short video highlighting the school’s history was shown that related how Byron H. Dement, the first president, led the school to adopt the motto of “training for service by training through service.”

Dew stressed in his address to attendees that the commitment to help students learn by doing has not changed and that the legacy of service represents what NOBTS and Leavell College have always been.

To explain, Dew pointed to the NOBTS and Leavell College mission statement adopted four years ago that states that the seminary exists “to prepare servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission.” Dew said the mission statement is undergirded and fulfilled through four principles: servanthood, devotion, proclamation, and mission.

“But that is absolutely not a new set of ideals or principles that we’re rallying around right now,” Dew said. “No … it represents the very best of who we have always been. It represents what we’ve always done throughout our history.”

Dew noted a “renewed energy” to the principles of service, devotion, proclamation and mission on campus and said God has granted the seminary favor in that task.

NOBTS and Leavell College students reported 10,094 Gospel conversations this year as they served through local churches and ministries, on the street and at work, resulting in 1,163 coming to faith in Christ, according to the NOBTS Caskey Center for Church Excellence and the NOBTS Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health.

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SEBTS alumni luncheon focuses on mission impact

By Chad Burchett

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – On Wednesday, June 14, during this year’s SBC meeting, Southeastern Seminary hosted its annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon to celebrate God’s ongoing work within the Southeastern community. At the luncheon, attendees heard updates about what God is doing through Southeastern to equip students around the world to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission.

Photo by Madison Sardana

Emphasizing the Great Commission partnerships that make the mission of Southeastern possible, the lunch offered attendees the opportunity to hear testimonies from alumni and faculty about how God is blessing and multiplying the impact of Southeastern’s training efforts.

As the first speaker at the luncheon, Todd Unzicker, Southeastern alum and executive director and treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC), shared his appreciation for Southeastern’s investment in his own life and throughout his state convention.

“Southeastern is North Carolina Baptists’ most valuable partner right in our own state,” commented Unzicker. “We want to see every student going to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. That is our goal and our pipeline because we know that those students will leave with an on-mission-together spirit, mantra, and ministry.”

It was this spirit of mission that indelibly shaped the life of Southeastern alum Quintell Hill, pastor of Multiply Community Church and president of the BSCNC. Narrating his Southeastern story during the luncheon, Hill recounted how God first brought him to Southeastern and how God used Danny Akin’s teaching on Bible exposition to give him a passion to preach God’s word and join in God’s mission.

Hill also shared how Southeastern’s Great Commission community taught him the priority of the Great Commission, which has continued to inform his everyday ministry.

“At Southeastern, every classroom is a Great Commission classroom,” remarked Hill. “The whole point is for us to go out as students to fulfill the Great Commission.”

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t remember the influence that Southeastern has poured into my life,” added Hill. “They taught me the urgency of the gospel, the good news of Christ that needs to go to the neighborhoods and to the nations.”

Hill noted that Southeastern’s Great Commission community not only helped him orient his ministry around God’s mission but also gave him a seat at the table in ministry and convention leadership as a black man from Alabama who now pastors in a small town in North Carolina. Having been blessed with opportunities for training and leadership, Hill now desires to serve Christ by encouraging and equipping churches to become missional churches.

“God is on the move,” commented Hill. “God is a missionary God; therefore, we shall be missionary people. We should bleed this. We should bleed the Great Commission.”

Following Hill’s testimony, Chuck Quarles, research professor of New Testament and biblical theology and Charles Page Chair of biblical theology at Southeastern, shared with attendees about Southeastern’s Caskey Center for Biblical Text and Translation (CBTT), which will launch this fall.

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SBTS celebrates God’s faithfulness honors Mohler at alumni luncheon

By Jacob Percy

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on June 14 hosted its annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon in New Orleans, LA, in connection with the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. Over 760 guests gathered at the Sheraton Hotel for a time of fellowship and to celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness to Southern Seminary.

Photo by Luc Stringer

The luncheon commenced with a special appearance by Bart Barber, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Despite never having taken a class at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Barber expressed his gratitude for the far-reaching impact of R. Albert Mohler, Jr.’s ministry, which extends beyond the seminary campus.

Josh Powell, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, awarded this year’s Alumnus of the Year Award to President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. As a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary, Mohler has bestowed the award 29 times, but this is the first time he has been the recipient of this honor. Powell said of the Trustees’ choice of Mohler, “I know of no other graduate that deserves this honor more than Dr. Mohler. No one in recent times has done more for our beloved seminary than him. Not only what he has done for our seminary but his greater impact on evangelicalism is incalculable. He is the best example of a distinguished alumni. We are thankful for him.”

After receiving the award, President Mohler took the stage to express his gratitude and to provide an update. Reflecting on thirty years as president, Mohler quipped there was a time that he did not believe he could last long at Southern Seminary but expressed the overwhelming joy it is to look back over three decades and see all that God has done to bring so many students to prepare for ministry at Southern Seminary and Boyce College. Speaking to the success of Southern Seminary over the past thirty years, Mohler attributed it to the institution’s unwavering theological commitments and unyielding commitment to train pastors and scholars in service of the local church. These commitments are embodied in the faculty, who Mohler praised as one of the finest groups of faculty ever assembled.

Mohler concluded his time by stating his immense gratitude to all those who have supported him in his time as president. He thanked the Trustees who have given time and energy, the countless men and women who have supported the institution financially, and the faculty and students who make Southern Seminary and Boyce College one of the truly most joyful places to be. Above all, he noted his gratitude for the love and support of Mary Mohler, who has been an essential part of the work the Lord has used him to do.

In reflecting on the luncheon, Mohler said, “I am thankful for every single opportunity to gather together with Southern Seminary alumni and friends. After Mary, our kids, and grandkids, they are our family. What a sense of gratitude comes over me on the occasion of this thirtieth anniversary luncheon.”

Dockery, Hawkins answer questions, honor alumni at SWBTS alumni luncheon

By James Dugger

NEW ORLEANS – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President David S. Dockery honored Dondi E. Costin and James E. “Buddy” Gray as the institution’s 2023 distinguished alumni and spoke to a capacity crowd of alumni and guests gathered at the annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon about the hope for Southwestern’s future during the June 14 event held during the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photo by Adam Covington

“It is a joy and delight to see all of you,” said Dockery in his opening remarks to the nearly 700 alumni and friends. “We rejoice in all of the good things that have happened for Southwestern Seminary during the annual meeting this year.”

The distinguished alumni recipients were announced on April 28, but were honored and presented their awards at the alumni luncheon.

Costin, a 1994 Master of Divinity graduate, has most recently served as the president of Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina. Costin will assume the role of president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, on July 1. A decorated United States Air Force veteran who served his country for more than three decades, Costin had earned the rank of major general upon his retirement from the military in 2018.

“To say I’m surprised is an understatement for sure,” said Costin. “What a great honor it is to receive this award on Flag Day as a veteran and as a chaplain.” Costin added his life would not have been the same without Southwestern Seminary and the impact the institution has had in his life.

“Because God willed it and because of Southwestern Seminary, my life was forever changed” by his time on Seminary Hill, said Costin. “I am so incredibly honored.”

Gray, a 1983 Master of Divinity graduate, has served as the senior pastor of Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, Alabama, for over 37 years.

“I never thought that I would be a distinguished anything here,” said Gray. “But I am so honored by this award.”

Gray recounted the impact of the Southwestern Seminary faculty as he said, “I am so thankful for the faculty and all of the patience that they had with me.” He exhorted the current professors at Southwestern to invest in the lives of the students the way his professors invested in him.

“I am very excited for what is happening at Southwestern and the best days are very much ahead,” Gray concluded.

Dockery noted several Southwesterners who were recognized during the SBC annual meeting including two-time alumnus Bart Barber who was re-elected as the Southern Baptist Convention president; Rebekah Naylor, distinguished professor of missions and missionary-in-residence, who was recognized by the International Mission Board during the June 12 IMB dinner for 50 years of missionary service with the newly established Dr. Rebekah Naylor Fund; and Peggy Osborne, wife of Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry Chris Osborne, who was recognized at the annual SBC Ministers’ Wives’ Conference as the 2024-2025 president of the SBC Ministers’ Wives’ Luncheon.

Following the presentation of the awards, Dockery addressed the crowd about the current state of Southwestern Seminary. He spoke of the heritage of Southwestern and vowed on behalf of himself and O.S. Hawkins, chancellor and senior professor of pastoral ministry and evangelism, to hold to the legacy of the institution, including its pacesetting work in evangelism.

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