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Seminary Extension gets new director

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Randal A. Williams has been named director of Seminary Extension, succeeding William Vinson, who retired May 1 after leading the Southern Baptist education entity six years.

Williams, 50, earned a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 2006 and in recent years has been an instructor at Southern Seminary and its Boyce College undergraduate program and an adjunct professor at the Baptist College of Florida and at Luther Rice Seminary in Georgia.

Williams was pastor of Victory Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville from 2001-04.

Seminary Extension, a ministry of the Council of Seminary Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention based in Nashville, Tenn., exists to provide ministers and laity with the opportunity to take classes close to home through independent study, the Internet and at more than 500 extension centers across the country. Some hours may be transferred to other institutions or counted toward Seminary Extension diplomas and certificates.

Seminary Extension offers Bible book studies and courses in pastoral ministries and educational ministries that help train both pastors and laypeople serving in the local church.

Williams said Seminary Extension “has a great history and reputation for serving Southern Baptists and I am excited about being a part of it.”

“In 1949, Southern Baptists recognized the need for educating pastors and laymen who could not or were not able to attend seminary. Seminary Extension was established in 1951 to meet that need,” Williams recounted.

“Many things have changed since 1949. However, the need that was made evident to the convention in those days is still with us, and Seminary Extension is still doing its part to meet that need. One of our goals as Christians should be to help educate everyone who has a desire to know and serve God, and we are grateful for the small part that God has given us to play in reaching that goal,” Williams said.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary and president of the Council of Seminary Presidents, said in a statement to Baptist Press, “Randy Williams comes with a unique background, having experience as a pastor and as an administrator. He brings a solid educational background and the ability to teach and give tremendous leadership to Seminary Extension for the generation ahead.”

Mohler also described Williams as “a bridge between generations” who has “a real connection with the local church. … He’s a man who I think will be able to relate to all Southern Baptists and with whom all Southern Baptists will feel very much at home.”

In addition to his Ph.D., which focused on preaching, systematic theology and the New Testament, Williams earned a master of divinity degree from Southern Seminary in 2001 and is a graduate of the Florida Baptist Theological College.

In addition to Victory Memorial, Williams was pastor of Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Webb, Ala., from 1996-98, where he was ordained to the ministry in 1998. He also was music director at Antioch Baptist Church in Gainesville, Fla., from 1976-77 and 1987-95, where he was licensed to preach in 1994, and at New Oak Grove Baptist Church in Alachua, Fla., from 1977-87.

Williams and his wife Ruth Ann have two grown children, Randal Jr. and Rebecca.
Seminary Extension can be contacted at 901 Commerce St., Suite 500, Nashville, TN 37203-3631; [email protected]; or 1-800-229-4612.