News Articles

SEBTS trustees require new faculty to sign BFM; increase budget by $2M

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees discussed then affirmed a bylaw change requiring all faculty to publicly sign the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs.

According to the action taken during the trustees’ April 9-10 meeting on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus, the BFM as adopted by the SBC last June will be added to the seminary’s historic faith statement, the Abstract of Principles.

Russ Bush, vice president and dean of faculty, reported to the trustees that all current faculty were enthusiastic in their support of the BFM as evidenced by their voluntary affirmation of the statement during a Sept. 13, 2000, faculty meeting.

Trustee Charlie Waller was the lone trustee voting against the bylaw amendment. Waller expressed concern that future professors might pit the two statements against each other in an effort to circumvent the plain meanings of the Word of God and thus ultimately teach contrary to the BFM. Other trustees felt the two statements are not at odds and, in fact, strengthen one another.

“This motion does not reject the Abstract of Principles. [It] keeps our roots that are in the past,” Bush said. “But by approving this motion [the seminary] can affirm where our convention is today.”

“It is easier to hold up the BFM 2000 than any other document and say we [subscribe] to it,” trustee Hayes Wicker of Naples, Fla., said, explaining the necessity for requiring faculty to sign two different documents. “I don’t know anyone in my church that has read the Abstract of Principles in its entirety. The BFM 2000 is something that is more publicly known.”

“This is an issue of showing support for our denomination,” said trustee Tom Rush of Clovis, N.M. “We know what our faculty will teach, but others looking in do not. The perception outside is important.”

Trustees responded in like manner to a motion presented during the 2000 Southern Baptist Convention in Florida requesting Southern Baptist institutions and seminaries not require employees to sign the BFM as a condition of employment.

SEBTS trustees’ response stated they would support the actions of the SBC by requiring all elected faculty to sign the statement, committing to teach within and not contrary to the parameters of the BFM. SEBTS trustees already affirmed the convention’s changes to the statement during their Oct. 9-10 last year.

Increasing the seminary’s 2001-2002 budget by about $2 million, trustees approved a $16.8 million budget, up from $14.8 million in the current budget. The new budget includes a 10.6 percent projected increase in SBC Cooperative Program funds primarily due to the seminary’s recent enrollment growth. Funding through the SBC’s Cooperative Program and designated gifts will account for 41.8 percent of the seminary’s income.

Additionally, trustees approved a $20 per hour increase in matriculation for master’s degree students studying at off-campus extension centers and a $10 per hour increase for master’s students on campus. This newly proposed fee schedule, which comprises 31.1 percent of the budget, will not effect tuition rates for students pursuing a Th.M, D.Min., Ph.D. or B.A. degree. Seminary officials said they do not anticipate a tuition increase next year.

Trustees voted to sell a portion of the seminary’s land that cannot be used for campus development and designated about $300,000 of the proceeds from the sale for information technologies. The funding would provide for a new foundational infrastructure entailing additional services to the Southeastern community including new electrical wiring, installation of a wireless hub, an upgraded firewall, employee training and a fiber optic backbone that will increase the speed and volume of information flow between departments.

Due to Southeastern’s continued path of expansion and development, trustees voted to rename Johnson Dormitory, a recently renovated all-male housing unit, in behalf of Jim and Agnes Goldston. Goldston, previously the owner of Goldston’s Building Supply in Raleigh, N.C., has contributed to the seminary through monetary gifts for construction projects as well as student scholarship funds. Trustees declared April 10, 2001, as Jim and Agnes Goldston Day in appreciation of their contributions to the seminary.

By recommendation of the president, trustees also approved naming a new missions building, currently under construction, the Jacumin-Simpson Missions Center, after Jimmy and Nancy Nell Jacumin, a SEBTS trustee from North Carolina, and her parents, the Simpsons, whom Jacumin credits with instilling in him a dedication to missions work. The Jacumin family has contributed to the building of the missions center through a large monetary gift.

Trustees also approved a 2001-2004 long-range plan for implementing institutional effectiveness strategies in light of upcoming accreditation requirements. The four-year plan is part of an ongoing process of institutional improvement.

The plan targets seven areas within the seminary including: the quality of the educational program; excellence of teaching; development of the library; development of students; effectiveness of administration; enlargement of financial support; and management of facilities. The planning document will serve as an outline for the future of the seminary as it seeks to continually improve its educational mission.

In other action, trustees elected Ryan R. Hutchinson of Tampa, Fla., as vice president for administration after serving as interim vice president last year. Hutchinson will oversee the seminary physical plant, housing and financial and business affairs of the institution.

Three presidentially appointed professors, Sam Williams, Mark Liederbach and John Boozer, were elected as full faculty members by the trustees. Williams, a self-described “recovering psychologist,” currently serves as assistant professor of pastoral care and counseling. Liederbach presently serves as assistant professor of Christian ethics, while Boozer serves as associate professor of church music.

Trustees also promoted professors Frank Catanzaro, Gregory Harris, Waylan Owens and Ivan Spencer from assistant professorships to associate professorships, while Dorothy Patterson was promoted to professor of women’s studies. Likewise, professors Edward Buchanan, Wayne McDill, Paige Patterson, Russ Bush and Gerald Cowen were promoted from professors to senior professors among the seminary faculty.

Twelve new course proposals for Southeastern College at Wake Forest were approved as well as 11 new courses for the seminary. New college courses being offered next fall are Personal Finance; Senior Seminar: Critical Issues in Education; Assessment in the High School Classroom; Introduction to Linguistics; Old and Middle English Literature; 20th, 19th, 18th, & 17th Century British and American Literature; American Literature I & II; and History of the English Language.

New seminary additions include eight new master’s-level courses such as Foundation for Marriage and Family Life; Life and Practice in the Early Church; Ante-Nicene Christian Thought; Preaching for the North American Church Planter; Introduction to Sports Evangelism; Evangelism and Church Planting within a Non-Evangelical Context; and Expository Preaching I & II. Three new graduate seminars are Seminary in Ante-Nicene Christian Thought; Seminar in Early Christian Life and Practice; and Seminar on a Selected Doctrine.

    About the Author

  • Melissa King