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SBC DIGEST: George to retire from WMU Foundation; Welch joins SEBTS faculty

David George announces plans to retire as president of WMU Foundation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–At the Executive Committee meeting of the WMU Foundation Board on July 28, 2022, David George announced his plans to retire effective June 30, 2023.  After twenty-one years as president, David wants to devote more time to his family, his church, and to volunteer ministry efforts. He believes the WMU Foundation is in a strong position and ready for a transition. 

“Serving at the WMU Foundation for twenty-one years has been the absolute pinnacle of my professional life,” David said during the meeting. “Everything that God led me through up until 2002 was clearly preparing me for this incredible opportunity to serve Him. I will forever be grateful to the WMU Foundation Board—past and present—for their unwavering support. It has taken all of us—Board members, staff, volunteers, and financial supporters—to accomplish all that God wanted to do through us during these twenty-one years.”

“The Foundation is in a very solid position for a transition of leadership,” continued David. “That coupled with the needs of my family and a strong sense that God wants me to step away from leadership make this announcement possible. I will work full-time until my last day as President, and I will always be an advocate, strong supporter, and constant resource to the people who make up the WMU Foundation.”

Bob Cardinal, Chairperson of the Foundation Board said, “We are excited for David as he begins this new chapter in his life, and we are grateful to him for his exemplary service to and leadership of the WMU Foundation for over twenty-one years. Under his guidance, the Foundation has grown and prospered; assets under management of the WMU Foundation have grown to over $50 million at the end of 2021 compared to under $10 million when David took office. Two of David’s greatest attributes have been his leadership of the organization and his ability to connect with all the stakeholders with whom the WMU Foundation interacts: current and potential donors, clients, vendors, WMU Foundation staff and Board members, and WMU leadership.”

“David will be greatly missed,” said Cardinal. “His wisdom, vision, and leadership under God’s guidance have been vital in helping the WMU Foundation to be poised to enter confidently into a new era with a new President. I am thankful that David has given our Board ample notice of his intention to retire. This enables us to plan accordingly and secure a new person to lead as President of the WMU Foundation and to make for a smooth and seamless transition. We know the Lord has already identified that person, and we are excited to see what great things lay ahead for WMU, the WMU Foundation, and for David and his family. We are asking the entire Southern Baptist community to join us in prayer for this process ahead and for the person that God has chosen.”

A search committee for a new president has been appointed and will begin its work immediately. The objective of the committee will be to identify and recommend a candidate to become the next president of the WMU Foundation. The expectation is that recommendation will be made to the full WMU Foundation Board at its April 2023 meeting.

Jonathan Welch joins SEBTS faculty as professor of Christian worship

By Chad Burchette

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) is pleased to announce that Jonathan Welch will be joining the faculty full-time as Assistant Professor of Christian Worship and Coordinator of the Worship Leader Training Collaboration, effective August 1, 2022. SEBTS welcomes Welch, his wife Sarah, and their four children.

“Our faculty are committed to serving the local church and equipping students to love and lead their local churches toward faithfulness to the Great Commission,” commented President Danny Akin. “This is exactly what Jonathan has done for years at The Summit Church. I know he will train our students to lead worship in churches with humility, conviction, and biblical fidelity. As an outstanding graduate of Southeastern, Jonathan loves our institution and its mission. He is a welcome addition to our full-time faculty.” 

Welch’s passion for music began at an early age and draws deeply from his family’s heritage of music ministry. “My mother is very musical, and I watched her sing in church growing up,” recounted Welch. “My paternal grandparents served in pastoral ministry and itinerant ministry together for over sixty years. My grandfather would preach and sing, while my grandmother would provide the accompaniment from piano or organ and often direct the singing. Ministry through music has been a constant aspect of our family life for generations.”  

Originally from Greenwood, South Carolina, Welch moved to North Carolina in 2002 to attend Duke University, where he graduated with a BA in Religion (with minors in music and German). During his time in college, God directed Welch’s heart for music toward teaching and ministry. “College was a pivotal time for sensing God’s call on my life,” Welch recalled. “I started college with a desire to explore a career in music, and I finished college with a desire to possibly teach in a college or seminary setting. For over fifteen years now, my ministry has involved both creativity and teaching — ranging from worship ministry to adult discipleship in the local church.” 

Desiring to be equipped to teach and serve the Church, Welch chose SEBTS for graduate school — confident in the spiritual formation and ministry preparation he would receive there. Graduating in 2009 with his MDiv in Advanced Biblical Studies, Welch continued at SEBTS for his PhD in Theology and Worship, which he completed in 2021. While pursuing his PhD, Welch served faithfully as a guest lecturer and later as an adjunct professor of worship leadership at SEBTS. 

During his time at SEBTS, Welch was ordained at The Summit Church, where he has served as an elder since 2009. In both the classroom and in the congregation, Welch has cultivated a deep commitment to equip the local church through music ministry and discipleship. As Welch joins the SEBTS faculty, he desires to help students develop a similar commitment to discipleship and the local church. “I want to help students develop a vision for worship ministry that connects the worship gathering to disciple-making and missions,” noted Welch. “God has given so many Christians musical gifts to lead his people in singing. I am eager to help our students grow in their stewardship of these gifts, learn to be faithful ministry leaders, and see how the worship gathering can both fuel and contribute to the work of the Great Commission.”  

“Jonathan brings years of local church ministry to the classroom as he mentors Southeastern students,” commented Provost Keith Whitfield. “He has led worship in a dynamic, disciple-making church and has served for years on their discipleship team. He understands that the purpose of Christian worship is to ascribe appropriate glory to God and that the effect of Christian worship is to form the faith and witness of the Church.” 

As Assistant Professor of Christian Worship and Coordinator of the Worship Leader Training Collaboration, Welch will not only teach music courses and worship leadership courses at SEBTS but also develop a network of local churches who desire to join SEBTS in training the next generation of worship leaders. This Worship Leader Training Collaboration will offer students practical worship ministry opportunities in local churches and encourage further training partnerships between local churches and the worship ministry and leadership programs.  

“I believe in the mission and vision of Southeastern, and I am excited to join the faculty here,” shared Welch. “We want our worship studies students to lead and design biblically faithful, Christ-exalting, mission-focused worship gatherings that inspire all disciples of Jesus to continue in a posture of worship as we pursue the Great Commission together. We want to worship wherever the Lord may be sending us — to our communities, to our workplaces, or to the ends of the earth.” 

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