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Southeastern’s new missions center dedicated during trustee meeting

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary dedicated a new building devoted solely to missions during its fall trustee meeting, Oct. 15-16 in Wake Forest, N.C.

Southeastern President Paige Patterson said the opening of the state-of-the-art Jacumin-Simpson Missions Center is a powerful statement by Southern Baptist seminaries of their commitment to taking Christ to all people. “Our six Southern Baptist seminaries have part in the work of this building,” he said, “and this building represents the heartbeat of every Southern Baptist.”

Patterson described the new building as “the most beautiful building on campus” as well as the most utilitarian. “Coming into town from any direction,” Patterson noted, “the lighted cupola on top of this building is one of the first things you see, shining like a lighthouse to a lost world without Christ.”

Named in honor of trustee Jim Jacumin, his wife, Nancy Nell Jacumin, and their parents, Emile and Mamie Jacumin and Roy and Muriel Simpson, the center serves as the headquarters for the seminary’s missionary outreach.

The new missions center, positioned on the southeast side of campus, is equipped with a state-of-the-art 111-seat auditorium to provide an interactive learning environment for students training to become international missionaries. The Eitel Auditorium was named in honor of Keith Eitel, professor of Christian missions and director of the Lewis Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies.

Eitel is the architect of the highly acclaimed “two-plus-two” missions program through which aspiring missionaries spend two years on campus and two years on the mission field completing a master of divinity degree in church planting. Through this program, missionaries can cut as much as two years off the preparation and training process, and the rate of students who go on to become career missionaries is an astounding 92 percent.

The missions center will incorporate the latest in technology into the classroom, enabling teachers to establish a live video feed of missionaries from overseas through teleconferencing. The goal is to use the advanced technology to provide students the opportunity to interact with international missionaries as part of their seminary training.

“This building is not only for our students,” Patterson said. “It was built with our churches in mind. A church heading for the mission field can come and sit in this auditorium and talk through live video to a missionary in any part of the world.”

Also housed in the center is the Nehemiah Project, headed at Southeastern by Bill Brown. This program is the “two-plus-two” program for the North American Mission Board. Recent statistics show that Southeastern and NAMB have planted 29 new churches in New Hampshire alone through this program.

Besides New Hampshire, Southeastern’s program currently has church plants in Canada, Alaska, Montana, California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Maine.

Patterson began his presidential report to the trustees by addressing the recent accreditation visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). A week prior to the trustee meeting, the seminary hosted the committee on the Wake Forest campus for the institution’s 10-year accreditation renewal evaluation.

SACS, a regional accrediting agency, accredits hundreds of colleges and universities in the South. ATS accredits theological schools in the United States and Canada.

Patterson explained that the committee spent three days on the campus reviewing the policies and procedures of the institution. The committee evaluated the effectiveness of the institution then gave a mandatory verbal exit interview, which listed the recommendations they had for the school.

The official recommendations will not be rendered until 2002, but Patterson said he was “favorably encouraged” by the reactions of the SACS/ATS committee members.

“We have every reason to hope that our accreditation will be reaffirmed for another 10 years,” Patterson said.

Patterson related an encouraging word from the accrediting visit, saying, “The committee said that our students were very disciplined and focused. They were very complimentary of our students and faculty.”

In other action, Patterson presented new faculty members under presidential appointment: Robert Cole, who teaches Old Testament and Hebrew; Stephen Ladd, an instructor of theology; and Steve Prescott, an instructor of history.

Trustees meanwhile unanimously elected seven faculty members: Pete Schemm, assistant professor of theology; Ned Matthews, assistant professor of pastoral ministries; David Nelson, assistant professor of theology; Shawn Madden, assistant professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Dorothy Patterson, professor of women’s studies; Nanette Godwin, assistant professor of church music and keyboard; and Bruce Little, associate professor of philosophy of religion.

Patterson observed that Southeastern has grown from 1,826 students in the fall of 2000 to 1,918 students enrolled in the fall of 2001. He also noted that the number of female students enrolled “is the largest in the history of this institution” at 441.

In other business:

— An estimated $600,000 was approved for student funds and endowments.

— Two new college courses were approved. “Exceptional Children” will be taught at the undergraduate level, while “Music in Church Planting” will be added at the graduate level.

–Stephen Rummage was promoted from assistant professor of preaching to associate professor of preaching.

–Trustees approved the renovation of the Reid Building to include a new medical clinic facility, computer lab and a cafe.

–Trustees approved a recommendation that a master of arts degree in Christian studies be obtained at off-campus centers, as they are able to meet appropriate accreditation standards.

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