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Seminaries more involved in missions, evangelism

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Reflecting a heart for sharing Christ’s message at home and abroad, Southern Baptist Convention seminary presidents told messengers attending the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans June 12-13 that today’s seminarians are increasingly involved in missions and evangelism as part of their studies.

Missions is the “spice” of seminary education, said Charles Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He noted students at New Orleans Seminary are participating in “more mission trips than ever before, fanning out all over the world.”

More than 3,100 professions of faith were recorded by leaders of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, as a result of various educational activities over the last year, said President Kenneth S. Hemphill. Those programs included the seminary’s annual spring evangelism practicum, a community block party, field service and short-term mission service in several countries.

Noting a student enrollment that is about half non-Anglo, seminary President William O. Crews said Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s regional campuses located in “the strategic mission centers” of the western United States are an important part of providing Christian leaders for the growing cultural diversity of the United States. “Contextualization is in the ‘genetic makeup’ of Golden Gate Seminary and we thank you for allowing us the privilege of doing what God has called us to do,” Crews told messengers.

The Council of Seminary Presidents recognized W. Edward Thiele, who retires June 30 as executive director of Seminary Extension after nearly five years in the post. Seminary Extension offers diploma-level theological education courses in several languages through more than 500 extension centers and through independent study. More than 4,300 students took courses through Seminary Extension in 1999-2000.

“Over the past several years, Dr. Thiele has given wonderful leadership, guidance and vision to this program,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “He has served with great faithfulness. [His retirement] is our loss but we are thankful to God that he has given us Dr. Thiele these last five years.”

Mohler, who also serves as president of the Council of Seminary Presidents, invited Southern Baptists to place historical records of Southern Baptist work and ministry with the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, located in Nashville, Tenn.

“This is an important program of preserving our history and our heritage,” Mohler said. Bill Sumners directs the archives.

Three of the SBC seminaries — Southern Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary of Wake Forest, N.C., and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. — reported on their work during other portions of the annual meeting.

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  • Cameron Crabtree