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SBC DIGEST: SBTS names new VPs; SWBTS workshop set for Phoenix; NEBC holds 2nd commencement; UMobile adopts new tradition


SBTS names Parker, Hall as senior VPs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Two senior vice presidents have been named at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by President R. Albert Mohler Jr.: Craig Parker as senior vice president of institutional administration and Matthew J. Hall in a newly created role as senior vice president for academic strategy.

Parker, currently vice president of institutional advancement, and Hall, dean of the undergraduate Boyce College, also will continue in their current roles.

Parker succeeds Dan Dumas, who now leads the revamping of Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system under Gov. Matt Bevin.

Parker earlier served as the seminary’s vice president for business services and as senior administrator for 15 years at the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church.

“Craig Parker is an absolute natural when it comes to leadership, building a team and understanding how institutions work,” Mohler said. “He is also a veteran Southern Baptist whose love for this denomination is so evident in everything he does.”


Parker said he’s had “the opportunity to serve two of the greatest leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention in Adrian Rogers [Bellevue’s pastor from 1972-2005 and former SBC president] and Dr. Mohler.”

Hall, meanwhile, is a two-time alumnus of Southern Seminary, earning M.Div. and Th.M. degrees. Prior to serving as dean of Boyce College, he oversaw SBTS enrollment, library and assessment initiatives in his administrative role in academic services, and he earlier was chief of staff in the president’s office. Hall holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Kentucky and was co-editor of the 2015 book, “Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Legacy of Carl F.H. Henry.”

Mohler described Hall as “one of the brilliant young leaders in both higher education and in the Southern Baptist Convention.” Hall’s position will oversee a new division focused on admissions and academic strategies intended to meet the increasing demands of a rapidly changing culture.

Randy L. Stinson will continue is his role as provost and senior vice president for academic administration.

Also at the Louisville campus, John David Wilsey, a church historian with expertise in foundational American ideas, will be joining the faculty as associate professor of church history along with Tyler R. Wittman, a medieval theology scholar as assistant professor of Christian theology.

Wilsey is the author of “One Nation Under God: An Evangelical Critique of Christian America” and “American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.” He is also editor of an abridged edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” titled “Democracy in America: A New Abridgment for Students.”

Wilsey has been named by Princeton University as the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life for 2017-2018 during which he will conduct research for a new biography of John Foster Dulles for Eerdmans’ Library of Religious Biography series.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wilsey served as assistant professor of history and Christian apologetics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and as associate director of its Land Center for Cultural Engagement.

Wittman, meanwhile, is returning to Southern having completed his Ph.D. in divinity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He previously earned his M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from SBTS.

Mohler said Wittman represents “a new generation of evangelical theologians who have demonstrated great love for both the academy and the church.” Wittman was named an Earhart Scholar at Oxford University in 2014 and recently served as resident theologian at Trinity Baptist Church in Shreveport, La.

Wilsey and Wittman will begin their professorships in the fall semester.


Allen to lead ‘text-driven’ workshop at Pastors’ Conference

PHOENIX (BP) — The mechanics of text-driven preaching will be taught by David Allen, dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s school of preaching, in a free mini-workshop June 11 for students, pastors and laypeople in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix.

The Pastors’ Conference will feature 12 pastors — from churches of under 500 in Sunday attendance — preaching expositionally through the New Testament book of Philippians. The 12 sermons will all be “text-driven,” and Allen’s pre-conference session will focus on that methodology.

“I am often asked, ‘What is the difference, if any, between text-driven preaching and expository preaching?'” Allen said. “The answer may surprise you. We are not preaching sermons; we are preaching texts.”

Allen defines text-driven preaching as expository preaching in its purest form, in which the structure, substance and spirit of the text drive the structure, substance and spirit of the sermon. This means preaching the Word of God “as inspired by the Spirit of God,” Allen says. (Additional information about text-driven preaching is available at preachingsource.com.)

Pastors’ Conference President Dave Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, proposed two days of consultations for this year’s speakers on text-driven preaching. During a colloquium in February at Southwestern Seminary, the speakers developed a cohesive unity to their sermons dividing Philippians into 12 preaching paragraphs.

Allen led the colloquium’s main sessions, walking the pastors through what he set forth as the “seven foundations” of building effective sermons reflecting the structure, substance and spirit of the biblical text. His mini-workshop in Phoenix will focus on these same points.

The Text-Driven Preaching Workshop will be at 4 p.m. June 11 in the Phoenix Convention Center’s West Building, Room 301D. The first session of the Pastors’ Conference will begin at 6 p.m.


Northeastern marks 2nd commencement

BENNINGTON, Vt. (BP) — Degrees were conferred on two students in Northeastern Baptist College’s second graduating class May 13.

Brian Harmon, vice president of academics and professor of church planting, charged Michael Carrel and Harmon’s son Scott to “live a life that takes on mountains” in a message from the Old Testament book of Joshua, chapter 14.

Considering the rocky spiritual terrain of the Northeast, Harmon asked how it might be transformed “if we decided to fight for the hard things — for the broken families and marriages, for the drug epidemic in our region, for our neighbors to know the Lord?”

Brian Harmon will be returning after this academic year to pastor Nehemiah Baptist Church in Cool Ridge, W.Va., where he served prior to coming to NEBC four years ago, while Andrew Lee, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament, will embark on continuing his education at Cambridge University in the U.K.

Both professors were honored with special awards from the college for their service.

Carrel, this year’s valedictorian, recalled in his speech the many times he had seen God at work in his life through the college since its founding in 2013. “It wasn’t long after I heard about Northeastern Baptist College,” he said, “before I realized God was at work here.”

Joseph Ferguson and Timothy Gross were NEBC’s first two graduates in 2016.

NEBC’s Northeast Impact Awards, which honor ministry leaders in the region and are open for nominations each year, also were presented during the graduation ceremony:

— Scholar Award: David Jackson, church planting director and strategist of the Baptist Convention of New England.

— Shepherd Award: Clyde McCaskill, senior pastor of Hoosic Valley Community Church in Schaghticoke, N.Y.

— Soldier Award: Earl Edgerley, retired pastor of Farmington Baptist Church and founder/director of the Farmington Center summer camp in Maine.

Two new professors will join NEBC’s faculty and administration July 1: Lee Williams as vice president of academics and professor of history and Timothy Christian as director of communication and distinguished professor of theology.

The college, based in Bennington, Vt., with an enrollment of 59 students, holds a ministry partnership agreement with the New England convention.

“Our second annual graduation provided a great opportunity to celebrate and praise the Lord for all He has accomplished in the life of our graduates,” NEBC President Mark Ballard said. “Each of our graduates is already serving the Lord faithfully and making a difference in the Northeast. As we celebrate this milestone, we also look forward with great anticipation to what the Father is going to do next.”


Great Commission Globe is new Mobile tradition

MOBILE, Ala. (BP) — A Great Commission Globe has occasioned a new tradition at the University of Mobile.

University President Timothy L. Smith, completing his first year at UM, said the black granite Great Commission Globe, dedicated May 9 as part of a fountain and lawn project, “serves as a reminder of our responsibility before God as a university to prepare graduates from various disciplines for their Great Commission calling.”

The Great Commission refers to Matthew 28:18-20 in the New Testament in which Jesus instructs His disciples to spread His teachings throughout the world.

For students at the Alabama university, Smith said, the Great Commission emphasis will begin as they arrive on campus, touching the globe and asking God to prepare them for His calling upon their lives.

“Then, at graduation, the student touches the globe once again, signaling to God as stated in Isaiah 6:8: ‘Here I am, send me,'” Smith said.

Graduating senior Abbie McAuley said she is proud to be in the first class to start the new tradition during commencement ceremonies May 13.

“This tradition will bring unity to the graduating classes as we see this globe as a symbol and reminder of our purpose,” McAuley said. “It is a tangible connection between classes, and a marker of the beginning and end of one’s journey at University of Mobile.

“For me, it represents the future, as it is an acknowledgement of the commitment to the command in Matthew 28 to ‘Go.’ Regardless of where I am, I know that my time at UM has challenged, equipped and grown me for this purpose,” McAuley said.

The lawn project, named the Dr. Fred and Sue Lackey Great Commission Lawn, honors the late Fred Lackey and his wife Sue of Athens, Ala. Lackey served more than 60 years in Christian ministry and died at age 81 on July 2, 2016. His connection with the University of Mobile spanned over three decades, including service as a member of the board of trustees and assistant to the president for church and convention relations. Lackey also served as president and vice president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

The Great Commission Globe was made possible by the estate of Doris M. Davis, who for 60 years was legal secretary to T. Massey Bedsole Sr., a member of the college’s trustees from 1969 until his death in 2011.

The University of Mobile, founded in 1961, has an enrollment of 1,400-plus students and is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention.