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SBC DIGEST: WMU’s Carol Causey to retire; SEBTS launches degree program for inmates

In today’s SBC DIGEST: Carol Causey, director of national WMU’s missions resource center, has announced her retirement, effective Sept. 15, after nearly 32 years of service; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary begins a degree program for inmates at the Nash Correctional Institution in North Carolina.

Carol Causey to retire after 3 decades of WMU service

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Carol Causey, director of national WMU’s missions resource center, has announced her retirement, effective Sept. 15, after nearly 32 years of service with the Southern Baptist auxiliary.

Causey joined the staff of national WMU in 1986 and served in a number of editorial and managerial roles. Since 2003, she has led the missions resource center in planning and producing products and curriculum for age-level missions organizations such as Mission Friends, GA, RA, Children in Action, Acteens, myMISSION and Women on Mission.

Her leadership also involved developing volunteer ministries, including Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps and WMU’s Missionsfest and Familyfest preplanned missions trips.

“Some have given significant portions of their lives in service to WMU,” said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director/treasurer of national WMU. “WMU has been Carol’s singular focus as she’s helped to keep WMU on task and moving forward. She not only carries WMU history and knowledge in her head, it is sealed in her heart.”

In her role, Causey served on a number of Southern Baptist workgroups, including Global Hunger, Mega Focus Cities, Strategic Focus Cities and the Missions Education Council. In partnership with the mission boards, she helped plan and promote giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions for many years, and collaborated with the former SBC Brotherhood Commission on coed missions education options for children, students and adults.

She also led the editorial transition of Royal Service magazine to Missions Mosaic and coordinated the return to WMU of Royal Ambassadors and Challengers from the North American Mission Board.

A native of Amarillo, Texas, Causey served as associate media minister at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth prior to her work at WMU.

She holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree from West Texas State University.

Southeastern launches degree program for inmates

NASHVILLE, N.C. (BP) — An initiative to train prisoners for ministry — the North Carolina Field Minister Program (NCFMP) — held its first convocation service at the Nash Correctional Institution in Nashville, N.C., on Aug. 21.

The program is being offered through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s undergraduate school, The College at Southeastern, to inmates who have a minimum of 15 years on their sentence in order to theologically train them to minister in the context of the North Carolina prison system.

“Welcome to The College at Southeastern,” Danny Akin, president of SEBTS and the college, said to the inaugural NCFMP class. “Words are not adequate to express how glad I am that you are students at our school.”

The college will offer a bachelor of arts degree in pastoral ministry with a secondary emphasis in counseling and psychology.

Jamie Dew, dean of The College at Southeastern, led in a time of prayer at the beginning of the service. “We come to this moment with incredible amounts of excitement and joy for what you have done,” he prayed, giving thanks for the years of preparation that led to the launch of NCFMP and praying that God’s mercy would “flow through the prisons of North Carolina.”

SEBTS started the program in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and Joe Gibbs’ Game Plan for Life men’s discipleship. In addition to Game Plan for Life, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is helping fund the NCFMP for its first five years in order to cover the program’s capital costs.

Gibbs, a NASCAR team owner and former NFL Super Bowl-winning coach, described NCFMP during the convocation as a personal milestone and reflection of God’s character.

“I consider the field minister program to be one of the most important things I’ll do in my life,” Gibbs said. “The great thing about our God is our God is a God of second chances.”

Jane Gilchrist, general counsel for the Department of Public Safety, drew a spiritual metaphor of light and darkness in regard to the recent solar eclipse.

“Today is a unique day,” Gilchrist said. “Most people are paying attention to an event that brings darkness to parts of North Carolina; however, there is no eclipse here at Nash Correctional. There is nothing but light and brightness as we begin the North Carolina Field Minister Program.”

NCFMP, she said, “will prepare these graduates to provide pastoral care and counseling at many of our facilities. These men are among the [prison] population daily. They see what’s going on and they have a feel for problems that may occur.

“They can assist in helping members of our population move forward with their lives in prison as well as assist in preparation for life outside these walls,” Gilchrist said.

Akin said seminary professors will “challenge and push” the 30 new students to study diligently.

“We do so because you have answered a calling — a calling to represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords right here in what I think is one of the great mission fields in America. It is our prayer that this model will succeed for the glory of God.”

Akin said he aspires to duplicate this instructional model “not only in America, but literally, around the world.”

Seth Bible, director of prison programs at SEBTS, noted the importance of the convocation service, saying, “Today we are not just gathered here to meet for the sake of meeting; we are meeting in a very ceremonial way to ring in the beginning of this academic school year and the start of this very important program.”

Classes will be taught in person at the Nash County Extension Center at the prison, located 40 miles from Southeastern’s campus in Wake Forest. The seminary is planning to admit 30 students into NCFMP each year, allowing for a 120 capacity within four years of the program’s existence.

The NCFMP is modeled after programs at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and Darrington Unit prison in Texas, lead by faculty members of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, respectively.

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  • WMU, SEBTS, Biblical Recorder & BP Staff

    Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by Julie Walters of WMU, the communications staff of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Allan Blume of the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina.

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