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Southeastern focuses on Great Commission in 2022

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary exists to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. Because Jesus made clear his final marching orders in the Great Commission, Southeastern has remained singularly focused on that mission in 2022.  

Expanding its efforts to resource churches, mobilize students, and fuel Great Commission ministry around the world, Southeastern introduced new courses, degrees, faculty, and an on-campus center to better facilitate this mission. Southeastern also gave students a record number of financial resources to train students who are serving with the International Mission Board (IMB) and to encourage hundreds of other students to join Southeastern on an institutional mission trip this year. 

Southeastern commissioned 601 graduates in 2022, mobilizing a generation of Great Commission Christians to invest in local churches; contribute to denominational life; do ministry in the marketplace; and fulfill the Great Commission in rural towns, urban centers, and hard-to-reach places around the world. 

Here are 10 highlights of Southeastern’s Great Commission work in 2022: 

Global Missions Week 

Every spring Southeastern dedicates a week in its institutional calendar to Global Missions Week — a time to uniquely highlight missionaries on the field and encourage students to consider how they can be involved in various mission opportunities. This year Southeastern focused on mission work in Sub-Saharan Africa, hosting events, welcoming experienced missionaries to campus, and creating opportunities for dialogue about what missions in Sub-Saharan Africa could look like for Southeastern students. 

Sexual abuse prevention and response course 

Following the SBC Task Force Report on Sexual Abuse, Southeastern launched a mandatory sexual abuse prevention and response course in August as an important component of students’ holistic ministry training. Equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission, Southeastern is committed to training future ministers, missionaries, and church leaders to love God and love neighbor, which involves preventing sexual abuse and caring well for survivors with gospel love, truth, and hope. The course provides biblical and theological foundations on caring well for survivors as well as practical and organizational strategies for preventing sexual abuse. 

Bachelor of business administration 

The College at Southeastern launched its Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program in August to equip students for Great Commission ministry in the business sector. Providing biblical foundations for business, the BBA program combines robust biblical and theological training with instruction in organizational strategies and business principles. 

100 percent IMB scholarship 

Dedicated to making it easier than ever before for IMB missionaries to receive biblical and theological training, Southeastern announced over the summer that full-time, fully funded IMB missionaries are eligible to be awarded scholarships covering 100 percent of tuition and enrollment fees. Southeastern is committed to its alumni on the field and to the IMB missionaries serving around the world, and Southeastern’s administration hopes that these new scholarship opportunities will encourage thousands of future graduates to prioritize the Great Commission of King Jesus wherever he calls them. 

Year of the mission trip 

At Gathering Chapel this fall, Southeastern’s Center for Great Commission Studies challenged the Southeastern community to redouble its efforts to fulfill the Great Commission and announced opportunities to get involved, including seven institutional mission trips throughout the academic year. Encouraging every Southeastern student to participate in a mission trip this academic year, Southeastern is partnering with several like-minded donors to offer mission trip opportunities across North America and around the world at significantly reduced costs. 

Persian Leadership Development Program 

As a strategic part of Southeastern’s Global Theological Initiatives office, the Persian Leadership Development program currently offers more than 3,000 Farsi-speaking students the first-ever accredited theological bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Farsi. Over the summer, Southeastern staff and faculty were able to meet and train these students in person, encouraging them to endure and remain faithful to Jesus even amid persecution. Southeastern’s Persian students are part of one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world, and these Farsi-speaking Christians are uniquely positioned to lead a growing missionary movement in Europe and the Middle East.  

Prison program graduations 

In August, The College at Southeastern celebrated its first commencement at its Wake County Extension Center (WCEC), recognizing the achievements of 5 incarcerated women who graduated with an Associate of Arts. Designed to equip graduates for public service upon their release or to pursue further education, the WCEC program prepares incarcerated women to serve wherever God directs them. In December, The College also celebrated its second annual commencement at its Nash County Extension Center (NCEC), commissioning 13 incarcerated men to serve as field ministers in prisons across North Carolina. These graduates join The College’s 24 field ministers already serving in the North Carolina prison system, carrying the institution’s Great Commission DNA into some of the darkest places in the state. 

Center for Biblical Text and Translation 

In December, Southeastern announced its new Center for Biblical Text and Translation (CBTT), slated to launch in fall 2023. The CBTT will provide translation resources Bible translators, missionaries, and ministry leaders worldwide and will help to improve the quality of major English Bible translations and critical editions of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. The center’s operational staff will include six research associates who will receive full funding for their PhD studies at Southeastern; a stipend with benefits, including insurance; and free campus housing. Applications are open for fall 2023. To learn more or to apply, visit the Caskey Center for Biblical Text and Translation page

Faculty and staff changes 

As Southeastern expanded its Great Commission training and mobilization efforts, the institution celebrated new hires as well as the faithful service of several retiring staff and faculty members. 

  • Steven Ladd, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, retired after 21 years of teaching 
  • Kenneth Coley , Professor of Christian Education, retired after 25 years of teaching 
  • Tate Cockrell and Kristin Kellen assumed leadership of the EdD program, Cockrell as the Director of EdD and DMin Studies and Kellen as Assistant Director of EdD Studies 
  • Anna Daub and Christy Thornton were hired as administrative faculty, Daub as Assistant Professor of Missions and Thornton as Assistant Professor Christian Thought 
  • Miguel Echevarría and Scott Hildreth transitioned from their administrative faculty roles to full-time faculty positions, Echevarría as Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek and Hildreth as Associate Professor of Missiology 
  • Jonathan Welch was hired to faculty as Professor of Christian Worship 

Doug Nalley, Director of Housing at SEBTS, retired in May after 30 years of service, and Travis Williams assumed the newly reconfigured position in June as Associate Vice President of Facilities. In June, Jonthan Six became acting Vice President of Institutional Advancement and was voted in as VP by the trustees in October. Six oversees Admissions, Financial and Alumni Development, and Marketing and Communications at SEBTS. Also in June, Keelan Cook was promoted as the Director of the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies, leading the SEBTS community in its Great Commission efforts around the world. 

New faculty books 

This year our faculty published books on topics ranging from fictional classics to ethics, discipleship and biblical studies. This year’s titles included Generational Disciple-Making by George G. Robinson; Christ, the Way by Benjamin T. Quinn; Counseling Women by Kristin L. Kellen; Tess of the d’Urbervilles and The Scarlet Letter by Karen Swallow Prior; The Potential and Power of Prayer and Disciple by Chuck Lawless; United to Christ, Walking in the Spirit by Benjamin L. Merkle; Empowered and Equipped by Julia Higgins; Fundamental Christian Ethics by Daniel R. Heimbach; Calling Out the Called by Scott Pace; and Angry with God by Brad Hambrick. 

To learn more about Southeastern, visit sebts.edu where you can sign up for the Southeastern newsletter, read more about what is happening around campus, and find out how Southeastern can equip you to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission wherever God sends you. 

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  • Chad Burchett/SEBTS