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SBC DIGEST: Ernest Easley to teach evangelism at Union; SWBTS, SBTS librarians honored

Easley to become Union’s first evangelism professor

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — Union University has named Georgia pastor Ernest Easley as professor of evangelism in its school of theology and missions.

Easley, pastor of the Atlanta-area Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, has more than 30 years of pastoral ministry experience and has been a denominational leader at both the state and national levels.

Union President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said of Easley, “His excellent pastoral experience and meaningful leadership within Southern Baptist life is already an example for young leaders. To have him teaching and serving at Union is a blessing.”

Before becoming Roswell Street’s pastor in 2002, Easley had served as pastor of four Texas churches: First Baptist in Odessa; Central Baptist in Jacksonville; First Baptist in Springtown; and Wynnewood Baptist in Dallas.

He has served as chairman and vice chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, a member of the Georgia convention’s executive committee and a trustee of the International Mission Board, among other positions.

Nathan Finn, Union’s incoming dean of the school of theology and missions, said Easley is “a seasoned pastor who brings to Union a passion for personal evangelism, a heart for pastoral ministry and a proven track record of leadership in Baptist denominational life. He will be an asset to our students who are training for pastoral ministry and a blessing to Tennessee Baptists.”

As professor of evangelism, Easley will teach courses and will lead the university’s efforts to assist churches, associations and others in being a resource for evangelism. He also will be responsible for leading and assisting student evangelism teams and assisting with church relations and denominational partnerships.

“I have known and appreciated Union through the years,” Easley said, “and am excited to be a part of all that is now happening at this great university in Southern Baptist life. I look forward to training the next generation of leaders in sharing Jesus as a lifestyle.”

Easley holds a doctor of ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary, a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife Julie have three children and seven grandchildren. Their son Jordan is senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson.

Easley will begin his teaching duties at Union in the fall 2015 semester.

Among comments from SBC leaders about Easley’s new role at Union:

— Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas:

“Congratulations to Dr. Dub Oliver and the Union family on calling Dr. Ernest Easley as your first professor of evangelism. He will do a tremendous job living out his passion to equip others to reach lost people for Christ as well as mobilizing God’s people to push back on the lostness of America and the world. Dr. Easley is a highly respected Baptist leader nationally and will be able to connect evangelicals from all over the nation to Union University. I commend you on this terrific hire, and it is thrilling to me to know that Union University is willing to set the pace in equipping the next generation of leaders in personal and church evangelism. Now is the time to lead … thank you Dr. Oliver, Dr. Easley and Union University for leading the way.”

— Frank S. Page, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee:

“Ernest Easley is a well-known leader throughout our Southern Baptist Convention. He is truly one of God’s choice servants. For two years, he served as the chairman of the Executive Committee of our convention and served alongside me to encourage, counsel and direct the work of our committee. He is a Christian statesman and gentleman. He also has a deep passion for sharing the Gospel and equipping others in that spiritual discipline. I am delighted at his appointment as professor of evangelism and believe this will position Union in a very powerful way for the future.”

Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church:

“Ernest and I have known each other for many years. He is a veteran pastor who has led great churches. He is a soul-winner, a Bible preacher and a loving pastor. He can teach evangelism, preaching, pastoral care and leadership from a vantage point of experiential authenticity as well as biblical authority. What a great addition to the Union faculty! Fantastic news!”

John L. Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“Dr. Ernest Easley, as Union’s professor of evangelism, is a decision of pure gold. Dr. Easley is a faithful and true follower of Christ with a passion for evangelizing and making disciples. His classy demeanor, listening skills and wise counsel speak volumes of authenticity to people. Once you spend just a few minutes with Dr. Easley, you recognize that you are in the presence of a man of God whose life and ministry have been tested on the anvil of life, and he has walked through the challenge with a shout of victory in the Lord. I’m delighted that Union’s impact on future generations has the benefit of Dr. Easley’s ministry.”

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“The announcement that Union University has chosen Dr. Ernest Easley to be professor of evangelism is a win for Union, a victory for the churches and rejoicing for the kingdom of heaven. Dr. Easley brings a rich history of pastoral preaching and evangelism to the campus. He will do more than teach. Easley will permeate the campus with love for Christ and for the lost. Fortunate are the students of Union University.”

— Jerry Vines, retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I commend President Oliver for recruiting Dr. Ernest Easley as the first professor of evangelism at Union University. I have preached for Dr. Easley many times at Roswell Street Baptist Church. From that vantage point I have seen his personal involvement and pastoral leadership in evangelism. He will bring that same spirit to Union!”

SWBTS dean of libraries honored by peers

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Craig Kubic, dean of libraries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been named the Barbara K. Nelson Indexer of the Year by the Association of Christian Librarians.

“I was very pleased to receive an acknowledgment of the work that I have pursued in making content available to our students,” Kubic said of the honor at the ACL annual conference, June 8-11 at Carson-Newman University in Tennessee. The Indexer of the Year award is one of only seven awards given each year by the ACL, one of the oldest and most well-known evangelical academic library organizations.

Kubic, who has served at Southwestern since May 2014, strives to ensure that God-called men and women are well prepared to enter their fields of ministry. This goal is accomplished through such means as selecting the right books to include in the library and finding user-friendly electronic resources.

“I’m passionate about trying to find methods of giving content, information and greater knowledge to our students to make them the best-prepared men and women for ministry,” Kubic said. “That’s my repeated theme: how to make our students prepared.”

Another means of meeting his goal — for which Kubic received the ACL award — is indexing, a process by which a theological journal is read and analyzed according to title, author and, in great detail, subject matter. The information is then compiled into a database and sent to the Christian Periodical Index, a key content provider for evangelical scholarly material. Through this process, students may access resources that would otherwise be unavailable.

“If we don’t index the journals and the content for our students, who will?” Kubic said. “So when I look at the journals that are Southern Baptist, someone has to volunteer to say, ‘This content will be available.’ If no one volunteers for it, then it gets undone. I want our content to appear so our students can get it.”

Indexing is a great undertaking, requiring numerous hours from numerous individuals. In addition to recruiting volunteers to aid in the indexing, Kubic also is a hands-on participant. At one time, he undertook to index a journal that had never been done before. So, he started with the current issue and then worked backward through 21 years of material. The project took five years to complete.

“I want all librarians in theological seminaries and denominational colleges to do the same thing,” Kubic said. “It’s a particular area of work that not all librarians will feel called to do in their daily activities, but I recruit librarians to volunteer their time and do it because they are passionate about their students.”

SBTS librarian honored for lifetime of service

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — The Association of Librarians and Archivists for Baptist Institutions has honored Martha Powell, retired director of technical services at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s James P. Boyce Centennial Library, for her 45 years of service at the seminary.

Powell received the association’s Betty Hurtt Meritorious Service Award during the ALABI annual meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention building in Nashville.

“I was of course very surprised and honored by the award,” said Powell, who served at the library under three different seminary presidents and in multiple roles: music librarian for 26 years, catalog librarian for 11 years and director of technical services for eight years.

“Martha Powell’s contributions to the Southern Seminary library and to theological and music librarianship are exceptional,” said Taffey Hall, past president of ALABI and incoming executive secretary-treasurer. “Martha has been a valued friend, mentor and encourager to me since I began service at the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in 2003. She is a treasure.”

The annual award is given to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional care for the materials kept in Baptist libraries. It was developed with three major purposes: “to honor an individual, to publicize the individual and the organization, and to improve the perception and visibility of the organization.”

Powell’s love for students and desire to interact with them first drew her to a position at Southern’s library in 1969. She said she still remembers the first reference question she answered on the first day of the job: locating the collection of Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete works.

Powell maintained a high standard of professionalism as well as a cheerful and generous spirit in every position she held, according to several association members who recommended her for the award.

She guided Southern Seminary’s library through the transition from a print to electronic catalog and the transition from the Dewey system to the Library of Congress system. She also taught Music Bibliography at Southern Seminary as an adjunct professor from 1970-94. Besides personally preparing the textbook, “Music Bibliography Manual,” Powell also prepared two other bibliographies for the course.

Berry Driver, SBTS associate vice president for academic resources and seminary librarian, noted, “There is not one book in our library that does not bear Martha Powell’s imprint. She is one of the most godly women I know.”

Powell, who retired May 15, is a member of Baptist Tabernacle in Louisville, Ky., where she has served as pianist and organist for more than 30 years.

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