Board of Trustees and Southeastern Society celebrate ongoing Great Commission effort
By CHAD BURCHETT, SEBTS
WAKE FOREST, NC (BP) —
On October 9-11, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) welcomed its Board of Trustees and its Southeastern Society (SES) for their fall biannual meeting. Celebrating another remarkable year of giving and financial resources for students, trustees voted on several committee recommendations to strengthen and expand the institution’s Great Commission efforts.
“It is an absolute delight and joy to be a part of what God is doing at Southeastern,” President Danny Akin shared with trustees and SES members on Monday. “One of the great blessings of these last nineteen years here has been to see God bring students to Southeastern for a season and then send them out and to see how they soar for the glory of God, not only in North America but also around the world.”
At the beginning of Monday’s plenary session, SEBTS welcomed two new trustees this fall, Joe Maltempi and Ronnie Campbell, who expressed their delight to serve SEBTS students, faculty, and staff as well as the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention. Encouraged by testimonies of the institution’s Great Commission investment in more than 5,000 students annually, trustees met with office directors and cabinet members throughout the afternoon on Monday.
During Tuesday’s plenary session, trustees voted to elect Jonathan Six as Vice President of Institutional Advancement. Six, a two-time SEBTS graduate who has served in various roles at SEBTS for over fifteen years, had served as Acting Vice President of Institutional Advancement since his promotion on June 1, 2022. Confident in Six’s commitment to the institution’s confessional statements and to its Great Commission mission, the trustees unanimously voted to officialize his promotion.
“Jonathan is a two-time graduate of Southeastern and has faithfully served many roles with the Institutional Advancement division,” noted Akin. “Jonathan has served as Acting Vice President for Institutional Advancement since June 1 of this year and has already become a valuable member of my President’s Cabinet and has implemented good changes in the Institutional Advancement division.” The trustees also voted to approve several curricular changes, the most notable of which included the following:
- The addition of an undergraduate certificate in Christian Ministry
- The addition of a Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural Counseling
- The addition of a concentration in Global Education and Leadership for the Doctor of Education program
These additions represent the institution’s unwavering commitment to equip students biblically, theologically, and ministerially to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission.
By recommendation of the Campus Planning committee, trustees voted to rename the academic building on the west quad after Ralph Logan Carson, the first full-time African American professor at SEBTS from 1994-2005. Having distinguished himself as a faithful professor with strong conservative doctrinal commitments, Carson was a unanimous choice after the trustee’s prayerful deliberations. Honoring Carson’s service as an international missionary and his rich personal contributions to theological education at SEBTS, the institution is excited to honor Carson’s legacy of endurance and faithfulness.
Voting on two new endowment accounts, trustees approved the Keith and Allison Moore Pastoral Student Aid Fund and the Bennie Richard Lee Student Aid Fund. The Keith and Allison Moore Pastoral Student Aid Fund will provide generous financial aid to full-time Southern Baptist students who maintain a 3.0 GPA — with priority given to students in the five-year BA-MDiv program. Similarly, the Bennie Richard Lee Student Aid Fund will provide financial assistance to full-time Southern Baptist students who maintain a 3.0 GPA — with priority given to students enrolled in The College at Southeastern who are also pursuing a call to vocational pastoral ministry.
“There has never been a better time than now for students to consider theological education at Southeastern, especially in terms of the financial resources and scholarship opportunities available to them,” shared Drew Davis, Director of Financial and Alumni Development at SEBTS.
In a year of record giving for Southern Baptists (with more than 200 million dollars given to both the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon offering), charitable donations to SEBTS have remained at record levels with over 5.2 million dollars given in the past year to support the biblical, theological, and ministerial training of SEBTS students.
Celebrating this encouraging report, SES members also received an update on the institution’s For the Mission Campaign — a four-year capital campaign to fund academic and student aid endowments, on-campus construction and renovations, and the Southeastern Fund. With over 2,500 unique donors, the For the Mission Campaign is now over 86 percent complete, totaling more than 17.7 million dollars (resulting in 51 new accounts, including 20 endowed accounts).
Thanks to many generous contributions to the For the Mission Campaign, construction is underway for the Ty Williams Pavilion on campus, and the upcoming renovations of Bostwick Hall have been fully funded. Learn more about this campaign here.
During their visit, SES members heard stories of how their partnership with SEBTS is impacting students through the ministry of faculty and staff. On Sunday night, Brian Frost, SEBTS alum and Senior Pastor of Providence Baptist Church, shared from 2 Timothy 4 and challenged SES members to continue prioritizing faithful ministry partnerships so that the gospel might go forth.
During the For the Mission Banquet on Monday night, Daniel Ritchie, a graduate of The College, narrated his life’s journey and how God providentially used The College to deepen his love for God’s word and his passion for God’s mission. Born without arms, Ritchie lived a life of frustration with God, having been bullied and ostracized as a child and as a teenager. That is, until God placed a youth pastor in his life who explained how God created and loved Ritchie and even purposed his armlessness for his glory and mission. Converted at fifteen, Ritchie pursued a call to ministry when he was sixteen, which eventually led him to enroll at The College in the fall of 2001.
“I am grateful that God in his grace brought me to Southeastern at the right time,” shared Ritchie. “One of the things that drew me here was how seriously Southeastern takes its calling.”
As a scholarship recipient during his time at The College, Ritchie reflected on how the generous gifts and prayers of SES members have affected and enabled the ministries of thousands of students like Ritchie. “Jesus says in Matthew that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” commented Ritchie. “What you are doing is sowing into workers who are going to take the greatest news the world has ever known and meet people at their darkest moments and meet them in their need. … You may have no idea what you are sowing into, but God does.”
On Tuesday, SES members also heard from Stephen Eccher and Steven McKinion, who shared their Southeastern stories and gave testimonies of how God is at work in the lives of SEBTS students around the world. “Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and the trust in us, the professors, to train these students,” noted Eccher, Associate Professor of Church History and Reformation Studies. “It is making a tangible difference for God’s kingdom.”
“Southeastern has remained committed to equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission,” shared McKinion, Professor of Theology and Patristic Studies, “What we do in our classrooms here is more than prepare them for passing their exams, but rather to be faithful in thirty or forty or even fifty years of ministry. Our students come here because they really do love Jesus and they really do love people, … and if you continue to invest in Southeastern, we will continue to train and equip them.”
Trustees commends Mohler’s stance on meaning of pastor in BF&M 2000
By JEFF ROBINSON, SBTS
At their annual fall board meeting Monday, trustees at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously adopted a resolution commending the public stance seminary President Albert Mohler took on the office of a pastor during the 2022 SBC annual meeting in Anaheim.
In June, Messengers at the SBC’s annual meeting in Anaheim, CA, considered precisely what the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 means when it refers to the office of a pastor. Mohler argued that the SBC’s confession of faith unequivocally reserves the office, function, and title of pastor to biblically qualified men.
Mohler served on the committee that drafted the BF&M 2000. On the convention floor in June, Mohler told messengers that there was no debate or confusion among BF&M 2000 committee members as to what is meant by the term “pastor:” it is an office which Scripture defines clearly in terms of qualifications and limits to men.
The trustees’ resolution commends Mohler’s stance. It concludes: “It is further resolved that this Board encourages The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary administration and faculty to continue its theological training with this stated conviction—graduating both men and women for service to the church, but with men alone reserved for the office and function, and thereby title of pastor.”
Seminary leaders also reported on the institution’s financial health. With financial instability in the United States, Southern Seminary’s fiscal position, by God’s grace, remains strong, Mohler said. Enrollment continues to be robust; during the 2021-22 school year, Southern experienced its second highest total of student hours sold. In addition, Boyce College has its highest-ever on-campus enrollment with 509 students.
With reference to Ephesians 3:20, Mohler said, “An awful lot of what the Lord has given us is that for which we didn’t even know to ask.” He added: “When it comes to blessing us, God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. That’s our experience, and I want to thank the Lord for us, our students, our faculty, and you (trustees) for giving us far more than we can ask or think.”
In other business, trustees approved the seminary’s audit report for the past fiscal year, showing the school’s strength and marking yet another year with no recommendations from the auditor.
Trustees also approved sabbatical leave for Abraham Kuruvilla, who serves as the Carl E. Bates Professor of Christian Preaching.
Board members gathered on Tuesday for a lunch honoring the 25th anniversary of the Seminary Wives Institute, a program that has offered preparation and academic training for seminary wives as they anticipate years of service as wives of pastors and other ministers. The program leads to academic certificates, is led by faculty wives, who volunteer their time, and is taught by seminary professors, who also teach in the SWI program without compensation so that costs to students can be kept to a minimum.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Jodi Ware, an instructor in the Seminary Wives Institute (and wife of Professor Bruce Ware), made a presentation to Mary Mohler, who founded the program and has led it for a quarter century.
“Seminary Wives Institute is a marvelous work of God for which we give him great praise,” said Jodi Ware, speaking as faculty wife and longtime SWI teacher. “But humanly speaking, SWI would not exist without Mary Mohler. She is the energizer, policy maker, curriculum planner, faculty encourager, prayer warrior, and overall facilitator of everything in the SWI program.
“I’m confident that God sees all your labor, Mary, and commends you for it. And we all say, ‘Thank you.’”