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Seminary luncheons draw alumni, guests

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Fellowship and campus updates anchored the alumni luncheons hosted by the six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries June 13 during the SBC annual meeting in San Antonio.

Following are reports from the luncheons.


Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary alumnus Henry Deneen was presented with GGBTS’ Distinguished Alumni Award June 13 at the seminary’s alumni luncheon in San Antonio.

Deneen, a native of South Carolina who earned a master of divinity degree from Golden Gate in 2000, will begin serving as the new president of Greater Europe Mission, an evangelical mission agency, in September.

“God has placed Henry in a pivotal role to impact Europe with the Gospel,” Golden Gate President Jeff Iorg said in presenting the award. “We are delighted to recognize him as an example of the missional focus we hope every Golden Gate graduate will have.”

Receiving the award, Deneen said, “Ten years ago when my family was leaving South Carolina and moving to California I cried the whole way thinking about what I was leaving behind, but now, after what Golden Gate Seminary has given me, I cannot imagine these last 10 years without it. I am so grateful for the impact Golden Gate has had on me and my family.”

In 2005, Deneen founded the Center for Global Strategies in Columbia, S.C., a nonprofit corporation organized for the purpose of leveraging business, government, healthcare and educational professional resources to assist in connecting the non-integrated world.

Deneen and his family served for four years as strategy leaders for the International Mission Board in North Africa and the Middle East, overseeing a team of missionaries from both the IMB and other evangelical missionary organizations.

Deneen was introduced by Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board, who thanked Golden Gate for its influence and training of people like Deneen.

Greater Europe Mission has more than 440 staff serving in 27 nations across Europe, with the goal of seeing every person in the region within reach of a witnessing fellowship.

While a student at Golden Gate, Deneen was instrumental in growing a new church plant near the school, Strawberry Community Church, from about 10-12 people to an average of around 80. Prior to his seminary and fulltime ministry experience, Deneen was the chief legal counsel to South Carolina Gov. David Beasley from 1994-97. He also served as college and graduate student minister at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., from 1980-97.

Deneen received his law degree in 1981 and a bachelor of arts in history in 1978, both from the University of South Carolina. He and his wife Celia have four children: Lee, Laura, Leslie and Layna.

At the luncheon, Iorg also reported on the work of the seminary, including an update regarding the Partners for the Future fundraising campaign, information about the new Ph.D. program in the Old and New Testament to be launched this fall and the new formula for allocation of Cooperative Program funds to the SBC’s seminaries. Scott Savage, a student from the Arizona regional campus of Golden Gate, also shared about his experiences as a seminary student.


“2007 is a significant year for Midwestern as we celebrate our 50th anniversary,” R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary told the June 13 alumni luncheon. “We were delighted to have alumni, friends, trustees and regents to fellowship with us.”

Roberts cited MBTS’ motto: “In the heart of America for the hearts of the world.”

“It is our mission today,” Roberts said, “and it has been for 50 years.”

Marty Harkey, the seminary’s vice president of institutional advancement, said the aim of the Midwestern luncheon was “sharing the vision for the future and revisiting the past.”

“It is all about building community,” Harkey said. “We are laying the foundation for the next 50 years with an unprecedented spirit of optimism as we hear about the exciting opportunities for partnering with MBTS in future building projects.”

Don R. Kammerdiener, a member of Midwestern’s first graduating class, shared memories from those early years. Kammerdiener said that his expectation was met at the seminary for receiving an education that would prepare him for missions in South America.

“I had a high-quality preparation for a mission career,” he said. “I was never lacking for basic tools in the work I was called to.”

John M. Edie of Missouri and Michael L. Trammell of Maryland received this year’s alumni of the year honors.

Edie, executive pastor at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., has been involved in missions initiatives, primarily in Middle America. He helped plan, develop and teach in pastor training schools for people who are seldom able to receive training.

Trammell is serves as senior pastor at Mt. Airy Baptist Church, Mt. Airy, Md., and has participated in various roles at the associational, state and national level of the SBC.

Three others were named as 2007 honorary alumni of the year, given to those who may not have graduated from the seminary but have made significant contributions in leadership and ministry.

This year’s honorees are Betty Drummond, founder of the Drummond Lecture Series, an annual one-week evangelism lecture series dedicated in memory of her husband; Godwin and Margaret Opara, owners of Transtecs Corporation, a government services and aerospace systems company in Wichita, Kan.; and W. Harold Rawlings, representative of The Rawlings Foundation. All four are members of the seminary’s advisory board of regents.


With Hurricane Katrina restoration nearing completion, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s greatest days are on the way, President Chuck Kelley told the NOBTS alumni and friends luncheon June 13. Conversation has shifted from “Are we going to survive?” to “What’s next as we are on the way to the greatest chapter in NOBTS history?”

“Wow. What God has done is a miracle,” Kelley said.

Kelley invited the luncheon audience to the New Orleans campus for an Oct. 4-6 homecoming to “see what God has done” and celebrate God’s grace and provision following the storm and to look to the seminary’s future.

Kelley said he is encouraged that this year’s enrollment numbers have rebounded sooner than the administration anticipated, noting, “Our [student] headcount is going to finish within 300-400 of our all-time record enrollment just one [school] year after Katrina.”

However, one Katrina-related issue remains -– a lack of student housing, with Kelley noting that 92 two-bedroom apartments were damaged beyond repair and had to be demolished. This, coupled with the rebounding student enrollment, has generated a critical housing need, Kelley said, asking the alumni to pray that funding would become available to begin building new apartments.

The trustee-approved plans call for the construction of three 36-apartment buildings, each costing approximately $5 million to construct, Kelley said.

“We do already have a waiting list of students who would need this two-bedroom housing,” he said. “Be praying with us about that.”

During the luncheon, Kelley presented Paige Patterson, Rick Lance and Perry Hancock with distinguished alumni awards. Kelley commended all three men for the way they have represented the “school of providence and prayer.”

Patterson, who earned master of theology and doctor of philosophy degrees at NOBTS, serves as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has more than 30 years of experience in training pastors and missionaries for Christian ministry.

Before being named president at Southwestern in 2003, Patterson served as president of Criswell College in Dallas for 17 years and as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., for 11 years.

Kelley commended Patterson for calling Southern Baptists back their “roots in God’s Word” at the 1979 SBC annual meeting. Patterson’s efforts, Kelley said, came with great personal risk.

“[Paige Patterson] is someone who was willing to sacrifice his reputation and any kind of future possibilities of service in the SBC,” Kelley said.

Hancock, who earned a master of arts degree in religious education and a doctor of philosophy degree at NOBTS, serves as executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home. Before moving to the children’s home, Hancock pastored three Louisiana churches and served on the NOBTS faculty from 1993-2003.

“He is one of the most gentle and gracious personalities you could ever be around,” Kelley said of Hancock. Kelley called him a thoughtful Christian leader and problem-solver.

Lance, who earned master of divinity and doctor of education degrees at New Orleans Seminary, became executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions in 1999, serving 3,200 churches in the state convention, after 29 years in pastoral ministry. “[Rick Lance] has been such a great friend to the seminary and one of the most impressive people I’ve ever known,” Kelley said. “Dr. Lance is a great example to all of us.”

Kelley thanked Lance for his commitment to the people of the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina. Lance led Alabama Baptists to give to relief efforts and participate in New Orleans’ recovery. Alabama Baptists also have provided scholarship money to help NOBTS students who were displaced by the storm return to the New Orleans campus and continue their studies.


Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., was joined by SBC President Frank Page and LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer at the seminary’s annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon June 13.

Page, an adjunct professor at the seminary, told the luncheon, “I love Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I love Danny Akin. I am just delighted to be here and support [Southeastern].”

Rainer presented Akin with the first copy of “Theology for the Church,” the first systematic theology book published by LifeWay’s B&H Publishing Group.

“I believe that this book is going to be one of the most significant theology books in evangelical circles,” Rainer said.

The book, edited by Akin and containing submissions from five Southeastern faculty members, sold out in its inaugural release at the June 12-13 SBC annual meeting in San Antonio. It already has been considered for use in more than 20 institutions, Akin said.

During his report, Akin recounted the renewed enthusiasm he has for the seminary’s mission-sending program (called the “2+2” or “2+3” program) since his recent travels to Southeast Asia, including seven countries in 14 days.

Students involved in the 2+2/2+3 program spend two years at SEBTS’ Wake Forest, N.C., campus studying theology, missiology and other practical subjects before being commissioned with the SBC International Mission Board to serve overseas for two or three years.

“We are a Great Commission seminary,” Akin said. “That’s why we exist, and that’s what we’re going to be. It is going to continue to drive and lead everything we do.”

The seminary’s new mission statement, adopted by the trustees in October 2006, echoes Akin’s comments: “Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).”

Akin told the audience that construction has begun on the Paige and Dorothy Patterson Hall, slated to be Southeastern’s flagship academic building. The project remains on schedule for dedication in October 2008.

Officers of the executive committee of Southeastern’s National Alumni Association were nominated and elected during the luncheon.

The president-elect is Steve Rummage, adjunct professor and preaching pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. Jarrod Scott, pastor of Green Pines Baptist Church in Knightdale, N.C., was elected secretary. Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, is the new alumni president.


Presidential service came to the forefront as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary honored two institutional presidents, R. Philip Roberts and Gary Cook, with SBTS’ Distinguished Alumni Award at the seminary’s June 13 luncheon during the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio.

Noting that the annual award typically goes to a pastor or missionary, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said the seminary chose to take a different path this year in honoring Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and Cook, president of Dallas Baptist University.

Roberts has served as Midwestern’s president since 2001. He previously was the vice president for the North American Mission Board’s strategic cities strategies group for seven years.

“It is a joy to present this award to one of my colleagues who shares in the work of leading our seminaries,” Mohler said.

Cook began as president of Dallas Baptist in 1988. Mohler noted that in Cook’s time as president the university’s enrollment has increased from 1,859 students to more than 5,000. Two things stand out in Cook’s record at Dallas Baptist, Mohler said.

“First, his university has ended every year of his presidency in the black. That in itself is a significant accomplishment in the world of higher education,” Mohler said. “Second, the fact that he has been president there for almost 20 years in the world of higher education today is itself an almost singular achievement. Very few presidents serve more than five years in one place.”

At the luncheon, Mohler also presented his president’s review of the 2006-07 academic year at Southern. He noted the seminary’s enrollment is at an all-time high, with more than 4,100 students taking classes at either Southern or Boyce College in the last 12 months.

“Size has never been our goal,” Mohler said. “We better be right before we are big. And we better be marked by excellence, not by size. We got things right before people started to come.”

Southern instructed 1,680 master of divinity students in 2006-07, which Mohler said is the largest group of M.Div. students ever assembled at one institution. Average student fees at Southern Seminary for 2005-06, according to an ATS report, were $3,750. In comparison, Fuller Seminary had fees of $13,146 per student in that academic year, while Trinity Evangelical Divinity School charged $12,207. Mohler said several factors contribute to Southern’s affordability.

“This [affordability] speaks to the effectiveness of the Cooperative Program and the effectiveness of our administration in handling our budget,” he said. “Your [alumni] giving to Southern Seminary also makes a huge difference in the lives of students. Your giving enables students to be able to afford a fulltime load of classes.”

Mohler closed the luncheon by noting the prime importance confessional fidelity plays in the life of Southern Seminary.

“We have learned that the sacrifice of confessional fidelity means the sacrifice of the integrity of this institution,” he said. “We are going to hire those who are best-equipped to train the next generation of pastors and missionaries. The witness of Southern Seminary has never been more needed than now. …

“Yes, we must be responsive to the needs of the new generation and the needs of the culture we are in. But if we are not careful, we will give away what so many gave their lives to reclaim. It is time for people to give themselves to the task of proclaiming why these things are necessary.”


More than 600 alumni and guests at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s June 13 luncheon heard President Paige Patterson report on the seminary’s new developments in archaeology, homemaking, expository preaching, Baptist studies and extension studies in San Antonio and Germany.

But Patterson also spoke of a looming crisis in Southern Baptist life -– a decline in men preparing for pastoral ministry.

“There are currently more students at our six theological seminaries than ever in history,” Patterson said. “But we actually have fewer men preparing for the pastoral ministry than we have ever had.”

Patterson continued: “Folks, it isn’t easy to be a pastor today. If you are in a very large church, you are going to have someone shooting at you most of the time. They shoot with blogs now, and that is probably more effective in some ways and more devastating. The only employee that some people have is their pastor, and they treat him that way. … Consequently young men are not committing themselves to the ministry.”

He urged alumni “to revive the understanding among Baptist people that we have a responsibility not only to call out the lost to come to Christ, but to call out the called to give their lives for the Lord in His work.”

Patterson said he and Thomas White, vice president of student services and a theology professor at Southwestern, have written a book titled, “Calling Out the Called,” which is available through the seminary’s admissions office.

“Would you join me in praying for this crucial moment in Southern Baptist life, that God would call out the called and send those students to us to begin their preparation?” Patterson said.

In his report, Patterson noted that around the country, programs leading to graduate-level degrees in biblical archaeology have been moribund in recent years. However, with the recent addition to the faculty of biblical archaeologist Steven Ortiz, Southwestern’s trustees have approved a new program leading to a master of arts degree in biblical archaeology. Patterson said he hopes a doctoral degree in archaeology will be added. He noted that the seminary has just learned that its archaeological museum “is the second-largest collection of antiquities from Israel that exists anywhere in the world outside of Israel.”

Patterson invited alumni and other Southern Baptists to participate in an archaeological dig in Israel at Tel Gezer, co-sponsored by Southwestern Seminary and a consortium including Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

“The first year of the dig we uncovered the gate that Solomon built to the city. The city was given to Solomon by a pharaoh of Egypt who still controlled it at that time, and Solomon built the fortifications of it, according to the Scriptures,” Patterson said. “No telling what we will find this year.”

Patterson also reported to alumni a donation in support of the new homemaking program, which begins at Southwestern this fall. He said funding is complete to build a specialized classroom-house for conducting classes and labs in food preparation, hospitality and other such Christian homemaking disciplines.

“We believe in the sanctity of the home,” Patterson said. “We believe that the home is God’s first and most important institution.”

Stating that two expository preaching conferences at Southwestern are growing more popular each year, Patterson said, “Some people don’t like expository preaching because they say it is boring. Expository preaching doesn’t have to be boring. Listen, the Bible has the most interesting stuff in the world … We are there to help you make it come to life.”

Noting that the seminary offers a free website where anyone can access and download thinking and teaching in Baptist studies — www.BaptistTheology.org — Patterson said, “We are grateful to God to be Baptists; we are not apologizing for it like some folks do.”

Patterson announced plans to send seminary students to France to plant Baptist churches in the former “Bible belt” of southern France. He also reminded the attendees of the revival today in Germany being led by Russian-German Baptists and Anabaptists, which he described as “nothing short of the greatest miracle on the face of the globe happening today.” He introduced the audience to Heinrich Derksen, president of the Bibelseminar in Bonn, where Southwestern has been operating an extension program for two years. Patterson also introduced Rudy Gonzalez as the new dean of Southwestern’s William R. Marshall Center for Theological Studies in San Antonio, and Denny Autrey, the dean of the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston.

The seminary’s 2007 Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to Judy Robertson and Hayes Wicker. Robertson, a 1974 graduate of the seminary’s school of educational ministries, is a single woman who ministered for many years with the International Mission Board in Taiwan and retired from the IMB as associate director of the East Asia region. Patterson said she was chosen for her example as a graduate who “worked in the quiet, behind the lights and the newspapers.”

“I am not deserving of this,” Robertson said. “At Southwestern, I was rooted and grounded in the love of the Lord…. I am so thankful for that time at Southwestern because that was when God molded me and taught me.”

Wicker is pastor of the 6,500-member First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., and was president of this year’s Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference.

He holds both a master of divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southwestern. “He is a preacher and a prophet of God…. God has blessed his ministry beyond anything we can imagine,” Patterson said.

“I want to give the Lord Jesus Christ the glory for everything that He does and continues to do in our ministry,” Wicker said. “I met my wife Janet at Southwestern…. Janet and I were privileged to be under passionate, Christ-loving professors who have become our best friends and mentors over the years.”

The luncheon concluded with the election of officers for the seminary’s National Alumni Association: Paul Kim, pastor of Berkland Baptist Church in Cambridge, Mass., president; Byron McWilliams, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Odessa, Texas, vice president; and Mike Hughes, the seminary’s vice president for institutional advancement, as secretary-treasurer.
Reported by Amanda Phifer, Amelia Hendra, Gary D. Myers, Joy Rancatore, Garrett E. Wishall & Brent Thompson.

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