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Southeastern’s G.R.A.C.E. to aid NOBTS, Gulf Coast

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–A comprehensive plan by which Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will aid its sister seminary in New Orleans as well as the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast region was announced by seminary President Daniel Akin Sept. 7.

The plan, Operation G.R.A.C.E., involves five facets of response by Southeastern students, faculty and staff:

— G is for giving and going. Southeastern is coordinating an offering with several local churches to aid the region. Associate professor of pastoral care and counseling Frank Catanzaro will take a group of eight to 10 students to Slidell, La., to help in the relief effort on Monday, Sept. 12. Catanzaro spent 14 years in the greater New Orleans area while earning his M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and serving as associate pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Slidell. Associate professor of historical theology and patristic studies Steve McKinion, who received degrees from Mississippi College and the University of Mobile, also will take a group to Mississippi. Other trips are planned for every break on the academic schedule.

— R, receiving and restoring. Any student from New Orleans Seminary who would like to come to Southeastern to continue their education can do so tuition-free and the credits will transfer back to NOBTS. Southeastern is working with many local churches to receive displaced families.

— A, aiding and assisting. Akin has been in close contact with the North American Mission Board and New Orleans Seminary in offering Southeastern aid and assistance at every point of need.

— C, caring and comforting. Catanzaro’s group is the first team to be led by Southeastern’s pastoral and counseling faculty to bring spiritual comfort and physical aid to people in the region. Other trips already are being planned.

— E, evangelizing and encouraging. With spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world in any situation as a key facet of Southeastern’s mission, all that the seminary does is innately infused with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Akin said Southeastern “is committed to Operation G.R.A.C.E. for the long haul. We intend to mobilize our students and lend our aid as long as it takes. We recognize that this is going to be a year, or longer, effort.

“We hope to involve all of our students, including their children. They will understand the love of Christ in a time of need. We want to mobilize the entire Southeastern community. This will give them a chance not only to do something immediately but in the future as well.”

As part of Operation G.R.A.C.E., Akin named Dennis Darville as the school’s Hurricane Katrina response coordinator.

Darville, who has been handling the planning for major events and conferences on campus, will oversee and coordinate trips to the Gulf Coast region, work with local churches to multiply the efforts of both the school and the churches, enlist the aid of students and local Southern Baptists, and keep the needs in front of those who can help. Akin said Darville will be working with NAMB and NOBTS to place resources at the right points of need.

“God has sent Dennis to us at just the right time,” Akin said. “His broad background in both business and ministry has prepared him uniquely for this role. Dennis will work closely with me to assure that Southeastern does not miss even one opportunity to glorify Christ in the midst of this tragedy.”
For an overview of efforts to aid New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary by the other five SBC seminaries, see the Recent News section at www.bp

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  • Jerry Higgins