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Southwestern church planters begin overseas assignments

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–With the world as their classroom and experience their primary teacher, the first master of divinity with church planting students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have begun two-year overseas assignments.
Chris Smith of Tallahassee, Fla., will serve in Trujillo, Peru, and Joseph Cartwright of Whitehouse, Texas, will serve with his wife, Valerie, in Mendoza, Argentina.
Both students have completed 70 to 72 credit hours on campus of the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary and will earn 20 to 22 credit hours while on field assignment for two years, during which they will be instructed via video, e-mail and on-site mentorships, in a program akin to those already launched by Southeastern and Southern Baptist Theological seminaries.
Smith will join a team of five other Southern Baptist career missionaries who use agriculture, well-digging and church planting to reach Trujillo’s 750,000 inhabitants.
The Cartwrights’ assignment is to help Mendoza Baptists realize their church-planting goal — each of the city’s 20 Baptist churches plan to start a mission by the year 2000. The couple will join four other couples and an International Mission Board journeyman on a church-planting team.
Students interested in the master of divinity with church planting undergo a four-hour interview to assess their gifts and qualifications early in the on-campus phase. When accepted into the degree program as missionary candidates, students work closely with Southwestern’s World Missions Center for overseas placement or the Scarborough Institute for Church Growth for U.S. placement.
Upon nearing the completion of on-campus credit hours, candidates examine church-planting requests generated by the International Mission Board or North American Mission Board and choose the three assignments that best suit their gifting and calling.
The two years spent on the field count toward career service requirements. A student who completes the master of divinity with church planting can return to his or her field of service as a career missionary immediately upon graduation.
“Master of divinity with church planting students won’t have just a diploma in one hand,” said Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill. “They will have already started a church. They’ll be carrying that successful experience in the other hand — they’ll have both hands full as they answer God’s call to plant churches.”
For more information on Southwestern’s M.Div. with church planting degree, contact Bob Garrett in the World Missions Center for overseas assignments at P.O. Box 22418, Fort Worth, TX 76122, or call (817) 923-1921, ext. 7500. For U.S. assignments, contact Charles Chaney in the Scarborough Institute at P.O. Box 22148, Fort Worth, TX 76122, or call (817) 923-1921, ext. 4890.

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  • Cindy Kerr