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Southern Seminary receives $1 million endowed chair

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Calling it “a hallmark in the history” of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced Oct. 12 a fully funded $1 million endowed professorship, named in honor of late Alabama Christian statesman Albert Lee Smith Jr.

Mohler announced the creation of The Albert Lee Smith Jr. Chair of Christian Leadership during a chapel service that was part of Southern Seminary’s annual Heritage Week. Smith served Alabama’s 6th District in the United States House of Representatives during the 96th session of Congress from 1981-1982.

“These endowed chairs are so very important to us because they really are the heart of the financial security of this institution going forward, and they are also a way of honoring one who is rightly to be honored,” Mohler said.

“The proceeds will help to fund the salary of a professor and the cost of providing instruction. This kind of investment helps keep tuition as low as possible. This is a down-payment on the future so that generations yet to come will have greater opportunities than what are represented by this institution even now.”

Smith joined the Jefferson Pilot Life Insurance Company in 1956 and worked for 41 years as a chartered life underwriter, winning several professional and service awards.

As a congressman, Smith demonstrated Christian concern for the strength of American families by sponsoring the Family Protection Act. In 1985, President Reagan appointed Smith to the National Council on Aging, an appointment subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Smith, who died in 1997, served for many years as a deacon at First Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., and also as chairman of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs. His wife, Eunie, who was present during the announcement of the endowed chair, serves on the board of trustees for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the SBC.

“Albert Lee Smith Jr. left a lifetime legacy of Christian commitment as a husband and father, churchman, friend and national leader,” Mohler said. “He served as a role model and mentor for many –- demonstrating his skill as a leader in the fight for truth and the cause of Christ as a defender of the Christian faith.

“His legacy has been perpetuated in the lives of so many, and now in a very special way, everyone in this institution will be touched by his life.”

The Albert Lee Smith Chair of Christian Leadership is Southern Seminary’s 18th endowed chair.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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