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SBC DIGEST: NOBTS campus reopens; Lifeway’s ETCH family conference Oct. 11-12

NOBTS-Leavell College campus reopens following Hurricane Ida

By Gary D. Myers

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College President Jamie Dew announced the reopening of the schools’ campus Tuesday (Sept. 7) following Hurricane Ida. The campus has been closed to residents since the Aug. 29 storm knocked out electricity throughout the region.

Campus power was fully restored late in the day on Sept. 6, and seminary facilities crews checked every campus residence to assure there were no unit-level electricity problems. After the facilities team assessed each unit, Dew invited residents to return and reoccupy campus housing.

“The campus is now open and we are very excited about that,” Dew told the seminary family via a social media video. “I’m excited to see you back on campus to continue the work God put us here to do.”

In a video addressed to campus residents, Dew urged returning students, faculty, and staff to buy groceries and fill up with gasoline before entering the city. While many stores are reopening and some supplies are available, there are long lines at grocery stores and gas stations. With power restored to more than 75 percent of the residences in New Orleans, Dew warned the basic services could be strained for the next few days as many return.

Dew praised the hard work of the facilities team and disaster relief volunteers from Send Relief and nearby Southern Baptist churches such as Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., for making the return possible.

“Our team has worked really hard to get the campus back to a place where it is safe for you to be here,” Dew said. “A lot of the clean-up is already done, and I think you will enjoy being back on campus.”

Dew also announced that insurance and building assessment crews would be conducting thorough inspections in all housing units and public buildings this week. While the school escaped the catastrophic damage seen in places like LaPlace, Grand Isle, and Lafitte, La., the roof and water damage on campus will add up. The thorough, room-by-room assessment will help provide a more definitive assessment of the losses.

Main campus classes were suspended during the first week following the storm to allow students time to establish longer-than-expected evacuation locations. On Sept. 7, the seminary relaunched main campus classes in a virtual format and will continue virtually through the week of Sept. 13. On Sept. 20, NOBTS and Leavell College will relaunch in-person classes on the main campus. Campus offices began reopening Sept. 8 and all will be reopened by Sept. 13.

In the coming weeks, the seminary hopes to mobilize students, faculty, and staff to help with monumental recovery efforts in the hardest-hit areas in the region, Dew said.

The seminary has set up a donation website for those who want to help students with evacuation costs and to help replace food lost during the power outage or assist with the seminary recovery efforts.

ETCH Family Ministry Conference reunites leaders ministering to the post-pandemic family

By Y Bonesteele

NASHVILLE (BP) – Lifeway’s 2021 ETCH Family Ministry Conference will bring together family ministry experts to train today’s leaders in kids, students, Next Gen and family ministries.

Aptly themed “Reunite,” this year’s conference hopes to equip and reenergize teams ministering to family units after a difficult year for churches, ministries and families. Because of the pandemic and other issues facing our nation, parents, students and children have unique stressors and ministry needs leaders need to address.

“Reunite is an important theme this year, not just because ETCH only had a virtual option in 2020, but because we want to purposefully recognize the importance of ministry leaders finding community with other church leaders,” said Ben Trueblood, director of Lifeway Students. “We aren’t meant to do ministry alone, and it’s often relationships with other ministry leaders where we find encouragement, challenge and vulnerability to talk about the difficult things involved in ministry leadership.”

ETCH (Equipping the Church and Home) aims to train leaders for ministry to every individual in the family unit in this post-modern, post-Christian 21st century.

“Our heartbeat is for everything at the conference to be practical, applicable and actionable to help you minister more effectively in your community,” said Chuck Peters, interim director of Lifeway Kids.

Reunite will focus on Ephesians 4, challenging ministries to “walk worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1), overcoming challenges with God’s strength and guidance.

This year, the hybrid options will allow many to choose to come in person to fellowship and network with other ministry leaders or to participate in the live simulcast with their ministry teams in the convenience of their own locations.

“We’ll be gathering with about 400 attendees in an intimate, in-person setting in Nashville, and hosting hundreds more through our live simulcast of the event,” Peters said. “If you can’t come to the event, we’re ready to bring the event to you!”

This year’s live ETCH Conference will be held Oct. 11-12, and the in-person conference is sold out. Ministry leaders and teams, however, can still register for the online simulcast with tiered pricing available to fit the needs of parents, leaders and church teams.

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