At their annual alumni & friends luncheons, Southern Baptist seminaries celebrated the faithfulness of the Lord as well as of many of His servants who have made unique and lasting impacts on their respective institutions. Below are reports from each seminary’s luncheon event.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
By Lucas Hahn/MBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) — Midwestern Seminary’s Alumni & Friends Luncheon on June 15 at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting was highlighted by the announcement of a new endowed chair honoring John H. Powell, a presentation of the 2022 Alumnus of the Year Award, and a Q&A led by President Jason Allen with historians Thomas Kidd and Jason Duesing.
Midwestern Seminary Vice President of Student Services John Mark Yeats welcomed attendees to the luncheon and then Lee Roberson, chairman of Midwestern Seminary’s Board of Trustees, gave the opening prayer. During the lunch, Jason Waller led guests in worship.
Following worship, Allen welcomed guests expressing his delight in gathering with fellow alumni and friends of Midwestern Seminary. He shared recent news on seminary updates, including the launch of brand new For the Church Cohorts, the growing faculty including the hire of Thomas Kidd as research professor of church history, and the missional work of the student body as they serve around the globe.
After providing institutional updates from the past year, Allen announced the establishment of the John H. Powell Endowed Chair of Pastoral Ministry in honor of John Powell who died tragically in Houston on July 16, 2020.
As a close friend to John Powell and the Powell family, Allen shared of the importance of this newly established endowed chair in his honor, saying, “John Powell was a friend that always outfriended all his friends. To know John was to know a phenomenal human. He was a sacrificial servant of our Lord Jesus Christ and the best friend one could have.”
The John H. Powell Endowed Chair of Pastoral Ministry was developed in partnership with Patrick and Katherine McGinty, the Powell family, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the North American Mission Board, and many other generous donors.
Describing the impact of this new endowed chair, Allen stated, “I believe it is a worthwhile effort to honor a most honorable man. Our hope is that the life, ministry, and influence of John Powell can radiate out from Midwestern Seminary to churches around the globe through this new endowed chair.”
In the world of higher education, an endowed chair in one’s name is amongst the highest honors an institution can bestow on an individual. Due to his faithfulness in years of ministry, love for the local church, his Christ-like example of sacrificial love and friendship, and generous donors on his behalf, Midwestern Seminary will have a lasting marker on its campus community of John H. Powell’s significant contribution and impact for the church and for the kingdom.
In addition to the newly established endowed chair, Allen also announced the recipient of Midwestern Seminary’s 2022 Alumnus of the Year Award.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) — Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, expressed heart-felt love for the NOBTS family in his remarks at the seminary’s alumni luncheon, June 15 in Anaheim, and said he believed God’s hand is on the seminary.
“I’m so overwhelmed with God’s grace,” Dew said. “I’m completely in love with the NOBTS family.”
Dew told alumni he hoped they would see why he is excited about the seminary’s future and would see that the seminary remains faithful in its stewardship of its mission.
Marking three years as president, Dew recounted that his greatest fear when he stepped into the job was that no one would “join” him in his vision for the seminary. That fear was unfounded, Dew explained, and praised long-time faculty members for faithfully living out the principles now incorporated into the seminary’s mission statement of “preparing servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission.”
Addressing long-time faculty, Dew said, “You have not only carried the baton thus far, you have actually shaped our future now as we have taken inventory of who you’ve been and what you’ve been and what you’ve done well.”
Dew then praised newer faculty members who have joined during his tenure for their commitment to the task entrusted to the seminary by Southern Baptists.
“I love our people. It gives me hope. It gives me confidence,” Dew said. “When I think about what God is doing here, I see favor. And I have hope in the middle of all the chaos, in middle of all the storms we have to navigate, I stand here today with hope.”
Dew acknowledged that institutes of theological education face only cultural “headwinds from this point forward,” but that Christ’s kingdom will stand.
“Come what may, Christ will be honored. His people will be strong,” Dew said. “And we’ll be faithful in our work.”
Dew told the alumni that while he appreciates their prayers for wisdom and protection, he urged them to pray differently for their alma mater’s leadership in the trials that are sure to come.
“I sense that God has his hand on our institution, so pray that we will be faithful,” dew said. “Pray that we will stand where Christ tells us to stand. Pray that we will love the way that He loved. Pray that we will utilize every single resource that God gives us … that through us the Kingdom will come. Pray that we will be good stewards of what God’s given us to steward.”
At the conclusion of his remarks, Dew recognized a retiring administrator and faculty member in a surprise presentation.
Steve Lemke, provost and chief academic officer for the seminary for 21 years, drew a standing ovation when called to the stage where Dew presented him a “Towel and Basin” plaque and thanked him for his years as a “faithful brother, servant and steward.” Lemke served 25 years as a professor of philosophy and ethics.
Dew turned to Lemke and said, “You have been a prince, a first-class gentleman, a faithful Christian and a dear friend to me.”
Chuck Kelley, president emeritus, came to the stage to publicly thank Lemke for his work and offered a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing. Kelley had selected Lemke as provost in his first year as president.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
By Chad Burchett/SEBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) hosted its Alumni and Friends Luncheon on June 15 at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Anaheim, CA. Celebrating stories of faithfulness to the Great Commission, alumni of SEBTS and Danny Akin, President of SEBTS, charged attendees to remain committed to the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Each year during the SBC annual meeting Southeastern is privileged to host hundreds of alumni and friends,” noted Jonathan Six, Acting Vice President of Institutional Advancement at SEBTS. “Together we all get to celebrate what God is doing to advance the Gospel of Jesus around the world. It is always a delight to hear testimony of God’s work among our graduates. The luncheon provides a unique opportunity to step away from the business of the convention and celebrate God’s faithfulness.”
Directing attendees toward the throne room vision of a great multitude in Revelation 7, this year’s luncheon was themed “That All May Know: Every Nation, Tribe, People, and Tongue.” The luncheon featured stories from Southeastern alumni who are fulfilling the mission by training the next generation to make disciples of Jesus Christ around the world. Attendees also heard a personal address from Akin, who shared from his heart about his resolve to stay true to the mission and his excitement to see God bless the efforts of SEBTS.
“We are so grateful to partner with you in the work of the Great Commission,” shared Ronjour Locke, Instructor of Preaching and Urban Ministry and Director for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership at SEBTS. “We are not the ones doing the sending. You are. Our role is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. It is our great joy to partner with you and your churches in the sending of God’s people to the nations and the neighborhoods.”
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
By Jeff Robinson/SBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) — In February of 1997, Mary Mohler met with a few wives of Southern Seminary faculty members to share a burden and a vision that wives of seminary students needed to be encouraged and trained, and in the fall of that year, Seminary Wives Institute (SWI) was born.
On Wednesday, during the annual seminary luncheon at the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, Southern Seminary honored Mary Mohler, wife of SBTS President Albert Mohler, for 25 years of faithfully serving seminary families through SWI.
Tanya York, a longtime SWI faculty member and wife of Theology School Dean Hershael York, attended that initial meeting and has watched SWI grow into one of the seminary’s most vital and cherished ministries.
“Mary shared with us a passion, a burden, and a vision,” York said. “Mary’s passion very quickly spilled over to a willing group of participants from within Southern’s faculty wives as they joined her in investing in educating and equipping student wives in the service of the kingdom.
“God has used this incredible and fruitful ministry to equip, fuel, and inspire hearts, homes, churches ministries and lives in general.”
Hershael York, who teaches theology at SWI, said male students often stop and extol the incredible impact and encouragement SWI is having on their wives.
“Mary, our admiration for you is off the charts,” Hershael York said. “We owe you so much. You have had such a profound impact. It’s a wonderful thing to see the way your vision has affected these families and shaped them forever.”
That first class 25 years ago numbered 136 students; thousands of wives have taken classes in the years since. Tanya York said Mary Mohler’s ministry through SWI extends far beyond merely a list of names on class rolls. For SWI’s founder, each student is a dear sister in the Lord.
“Mary knows these students by name, she knows their churches, she knows their children, she knows their ministry, she knows their pets, she knows their favorite beverages,” Tanya York said. “She truly loves them, and they are forever stored in her heart and in her mind.”
Mary Mohler deflected all credit; God alone has built the ministry, she said.
“All I can say is to God be all the glory,” she said. “This not at all a Mary Mohler effort, this is something the Lord did put on my heart in 1997. But then he also sovereignly brought alongside me a phenomenal group of faculty wives, such that a program like this doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet. The seminary faculty also gladly gives their time in addition to full schedules to teach our student wives, and this is priceless. I am astounded and truly grateful for how the Lord has chosen to use SWI to his glory for 25 years.”
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
By Timothy McKeown/SWBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) — For the second consecutive year, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention who is an alumnus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary addressed the gathering of the seminary’s Alumni and Friends Luncheon in Anaheim, June 15.
Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, who earned the Master of Divinity with biblical languages (1996) and Doctor of Philosophy in church history (2006), challenged his fellow Southwesterners to proudly proclaim their Southwestern Seminary heritage by joining the recently relaunched Southwestern Alumni Association. President Adam W. Greenway called Barber a “double-domer,” referring to the iconic building on the seminary’s campus in Fort Worth, Texas. Barber also served as trustee of the seminary from 2009 to 2019.
The annual luncheon hosted a crowd of just under 600.
Barber recalled Southwestern Seminary taught him and other students to interact with others in ways that are charitable and exhibit Christian virtue, mentioning the example of the late James Leo Garrett, distinguished professor of theology.
Southwestern also helped Barber to learn about the rich heritage and workings of the Southern Baptist Convention built on a strong biblical foundation, he said.
“I joined the Alumni Association, and I am thankful to be a Southwesterner. I want those good seeds that were planted by this institution in others to shape the future, a healthier future, for our convention of churches.”
Following Barber’s comments, Greenway called on Jared Wellman, newly elected chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, a Doctor of Philosophy student and pastor of Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, to pray over Barber and his upcoming term.
Greenway also recognized Daniel Dickard, the newly elected president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference and senior pastor of Friendly Avenue Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, among other leaders present for the gathering. Dickard earned a Master of Divinity from Southwestern in 2014.
Announced in May as the 2022 Southwestern Seminary Distinguished Alumni, Gateway Seminary President Jeff P. Iorg and retired Rear Admiral Phillip “Endel” Lee Jr., received their awards at the luncheon.
Speaking of Iorg and Lee, Greenway stated, “There are so many distinguished Southwesterners that have been recognized over the years. We are able to add two more to that pantheon today.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: At the time of publication, Baptist Press had not received the report from Gateway Seminary.