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SEBTS trustees affirm Baptist Faith & Message 2000

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–In a statement issued during its Oct. 9-10 meeting, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Board of Trustees affirmed the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent changes to its Baptist Faith & Message 2000 in Orlando, Fla. Trustees will vote next spring on a motion that will make signing the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 mandatory for incoming faculty, while continuing to sign Southeastern’s Articles of Principles as well.

This motion excludes present SEBTS faculty, who have already voluntarily affirmed the adoption of the new statement of faith on Sept. 13. Also maintaining the right of any Baptist body to publish a confessional statement reflecting the assembly’s views, the faculty stated they would advocate the statement, but not impose it on students. The faculty approved the affirmation by a unanimous vote, expressing renewed loyalty to the Cooperative Program and to churches who cooperated with the SBC.

“We felt it (is) important to retain historical continuity,” said Trustee Cecil Taylor, regarding next spring’s motion. “Demonstrating solidarity with the other seminaries and the convention at large that adopted this document.”

Taylor also said the “trustees recognized no essential conflict between the language of the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith & Message (2000), upon which this institution was founded.”

Trustees also authorized seminary departments to substitute all references to the Baptist Faith and Message 1963 with the revised Baptist Faith and Message 2000 statement in all appropriate seminary publications.

Southeastern President Paige Patterson also addressed the recent BGCT de-funding of Southeastern Seminary to trustees stating “it was alleged that what has happened is due to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. We were told that if we asked our professors to sign it, it would be immediate grounds for de-funding.”

Declining to meet with the committee representing the BGCT in Texas, Patterson said he thought it would be a violation of order because Southern Baptist seminaries are not directly accountable to state conventions, only the national one. However, Patterson, along with the other seminary presidents, invited the committees to visit each of the seminary campuses for further investigation.

“We welcomed them, fed them and met for three-and-a-half hours, only of which 20 percent was devoted to discussion of the seminary,” Patterson said. “The other 80 percent was directed to what they didn’t like about the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Patterson also said that Southeastern corrected all issues and questions from the BGCT; however, none of these corrections were reflected in the committee’s report to the Texas convention.

“For instance,” Patterson said. “The committee falsely concluded that SEBTS faculty who did not receive degrees from Southern Baptist schools did not have Southern Baptist backgrounds, even though many of these men came directly to Southeastern from Southern Baptist pastorships.”

In response to the BGCT report, Patterson told trustees that pleasing God was the only thing Southeastern Seminary should be concerned with.

“I’m not worried about the future,” Patterson said. “$875,000 is not nearly enough to buy me off from standing by the Bible. We are going to stand there if it costs us everything.”

In other action, trustees adopted a 2001 plan for implementing institutional effectiveness strategies due to upcoming accrediting requirements. Next fall, trustees will vote on a long-range plan for 2001-2005.

The board also promoted Steven McKinion to associate professor of church history. McKinion currently serves as assistant professor of church history.

In keeping up with the recent increase in enrollment on Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus, trustees also approved 13 new course proposals for Southeastern College at Wake Forest: American Government; American History I & II; British Literature I & II; Classroom Observation; Child & Adolescent Development; Economics; Educational Psychology; Foundations of Education; History of Western Civilization II; Teaching Reading; and World Geography.

Three new figures joined the Board of Trustees this fall: Steve Felker, Pam Moseley and Thomas Rush. Felker, pastor of Swift Creek Baptist Church, Colonial Heights, Va., also serves as member of the board of the Virginia Baptist Banner. Moseley, a member of Tri-Cities Baptist Church, Kingsport, Tenn. with professional secretarial training, serves her church as a Sunday School teacher and director of a Wednesday night discipleship. Rush, a SEBTS alum and former military chaplain, is currently the pastor of First Baptist Church, Clovis, NM. Rush also served as last year’s president of the SEBTS Alumni Association.

The fall Board of Trustees meeting was held amidst Southeastern’s Heritage Week, a celebration commemorating the seminary’s 50th anniversary and its contributions to the Southern Baptist community and the Kingdom of God.

Celebration events included a roast honoring Southeastern President Paige Patterson, chapel speakers such as Johnny Hunt, Woodstock, Ga., and Charles Page, Charlotte, N.C. and two appreciation days for retiring seminary personnel, Paul Fletcher, vice president for administration, and Ben S. Johnson, senior professor of church music.

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  • Melissa King