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Seminary honors award recipients, celebrates Founder’s Day

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Ray and Shirley Caldwell have provided scholarships for more than 250 seminary students. Ray believes that their gifts to the scholarship funds of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have been “the greatest investments we’ve ever made.”

“The investments have also paid the greatest dividends,” Shirley said.

According to Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill, those investments are paying “eternal dividends in the lives of people all over the world as our students go out to share the gospel.” Hemphill said that more than 50 percent of all Southern Baptist missionaries have received their seminary education at Southwestern. That figure would be much lower, he said, if not for those like the Caldwells who have supported the seminary.

Hemphill and Southwestern honored the Caldwells, Marjorie E. Baker and Thomas F. Bickley at the seminary’s annual B.H. Carroll awards luncheon March 8.

The awards, given to pastors, donors and businessmen and women who have made significant financial and academic contributions to the seminary, have been awarded since 1982.

Baker, a resident of Dallas, Texas, and a member of First Baptist Dallas, said that she was amazed that more than 200 friends and family attended the luncheon honoring her, Bickley and the Caldwells.

“I expected a small gathering, but this is wonderful,” she said. “I want to thank this school for such a wonderful recognition.”

Baker was instrumental in securing the funding necessary to provide the stained-glass ceiling art in the rotunda of the newly constructed Ray I. Riley Alumni Center of the Ralph M. Smith Leadership Development Complex.

Bickley, reared in West Texas and now a resident of Bedford, Texas, has been one of the most active and engaged supporters of Southwestern in recent years, Hemphill said. A member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Richland Hills, Texas, and a retired project engineer, Bickley is devoted to preserving and making accessible ancient biblical manuscripts in Southwestern’s Roberts Library. Bickley began research in the library in the 1980s.

He reads and translates ancient Aramaic despite having no formal theological education. Berry Driver, director of the library, called Bickley “a Renaissance man. He is very intelligent.”

Bickley created a trust fund for the creation of an alternate site for the Voobus Syriac Collection and the purchase of a two-volume index of the collection still in the process of development.

“I would search out the texts in the library, and many of them had not been checked out since 1910. Students apparently could not find them. So now they will all be grouped together to make them more accessible,” Bickley said.

Bickley also provided the single largest gift to offset the cost of acquiring the historic Breed Collection and has been particularly instrumental in enabling the seminary’s libraries to upgrade their computer equipment and video capabilities. The Breed Collection contains several thousand volumes pertaining to the history of Baptists in Great Britain and Europe.

The Caldwells, from Weatherford, Texas, have been faithful and compassionate supporters of those who need financial assistance while attending seminary, Hemphill said. Ray and Shirley once owned Caldwell Development Company but sold the land- developing company in order to establish a scholarship fund.
“The day after we signed the final papers [to sell the company], we drove to Southwestern and established the fund,” Shirley said.

“These scholarships will go on for many years after we are gone, but it has been a source of tremendous joy to know that the students who use these scholarships will also continue going on for many years after we are gone,” she added.

The awards banquet was part of the festivities surrounding Founder’s Day, which celebrates the life and legacy of Benajah H. Carroll, who established Southwestern Seminary at Baylor University in 1908. The seminary moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1910.

Carroll died in 1914, but his legacy has been long sustained by the seminary’s supporters, Hemphill said. “I’m not sure Dr. Carroll had in his vision all that Southwestern would become.”

James Leo Garrett Jr., distinguished professor emeritus of theology, echoed that sentiment in his Founder’s Day address. Garrett’s address, “Writings that have helped to shape the Southwestern tradition,” was “an interpretive review of the published writings of Southwestern professors” since the seminary’s inception.

He described the writings of A.H. Newman, L.R. Scarborough, Earl Ellis, Robert A. Baker and others.

Garrett noted that the considerable literary production of Southwestern professors “has been foundational to the process of learning and maturing for ministry that has been going on for more than nine decades in the Southwestern context.”

Southwestern professors have produced approximately 700 titled works, Garrett said. Many of the books, he noted, have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian and Japanese. They have even been translated into Braille, he said.

“It should now be evident,” Garrett said, “that members of this faculty have produced a considerable collection of books on a vast array of subjects. Let those who would become the Southwestern of the 21st century be mindful of those who have written and what they have written, and let them strive by the grace of God through the ministry of writing to parallel and to exceed these labors of yesteryear.”

W. David Kirkpatrick, professor of theology, said before offering the benediction to the Founder’s Day chapel that Garrett had characteristically neglected to mention his own works.

A member of the seminary faculty from 1949-59 and 1979-97, Garrett is a widely known systematic and historical theologian and author. He has authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited 13 books. He has contributed chapters to 22 books, written 44 journal articles and editorials, 26 encyclopedia articles and more than 248 book reviews.

Most well known among his books are “Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, and Evangelical” (2 volumes); “Are Southern Baptists Evangelicals?” (co-authored with E. Glenn Hinson); and “Baptists and Roman Catholics.”

Garrett, a graduate of Baylor, Princeton and Harvard universities and Southwestern Seminary, has also served as the pastor of three churches and as the interim pastor of 10 churches. He and his wife, Myrta Ann, are members of Meadowridge Community Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: SHIRLEY CALDWELL, MARJORIE E. BAKER and JAMES LEO GARRETT JR.

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  • Gregory Tomlin