FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary named Ohio pastor James W. Caldwell as its new director of recruitment and minister of worship, effective immediately.
Caldwell, 45, has served as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Heath, Ohio, since 2000. The church has been one of the top 10 among churches of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio in numbers of baptisms each year during that period. Caldwell has been in fulltime ministry for 25 years, having served as senior pastor, minister of music or youth pastor — sometimes simultaneously — at churches in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Virginia.
A BMI-registered songwriter, he has had seven songs recorded by Christian artists. He holds a doctor of ministry degree, master’s degree in theology and bachelor’s degree, all from Emmanuel Baptist College in Connelly Springs, N.C.
Caldwell will serve as the seminary’s ambassador to prospective graduate students and will also reach out to prospective students for enrollment in The College at Southwestern, the new undergraduate school scheduled to begin classes on the Fort Worth campus this fall.
In addition, Caldwell will fill a newly created position as Southwestern’s minister of worship to oversee music and worship during chapel services.
“I am excited about the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” Caldwell said. “I am excited about the opportunity to touch lives by bringing young people … into a facility like this to get the incredible quality of education that Southwestern offers.”
Caldwell said he shares Southwestern President Paige Patterson’s view that the seminary’s thrice-weekly chapel services can be an opportunity for prospective students to be inspired to come to the Fort Worth, Texas, campus. Thus he views his roles as director of student recruitment and minister of worship as complementary.
“One of Dr. Patterson’s themes is that chapel is an incredible recruiting tool,” Caldwell said. “When chapel is flowing and vibrant and exciting, it’s a catalyst for young people who are excited about serving God.”
Patterson viewed Caldwell’s unique combination of experience and gifts as an important step toward the seminary’s goal of enrolling 6,000 students.
“With the addition of an experienced pastor to the student recruitment office, we anticipate a marked upturn in the number of young men that will be coming to Southwestern to train for the pastorate,” Patterson said. “Yet, Dr. Caldwell brings the versatility of a man skilled in music and the platform also.”
Caldwell said his “motivation, when it comes to chapel, is to present an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to have freedom for our speakers who come in. Music in the Old Covenant was used to prepare the hearts of God’s men as they approached dramatic decisions and important times in their lives. … I believe music and worship in our services is there to prepare us and to open us for the Word of God.”
He expressed similar enthusiasm for wearing the hat of a recruiter. When he is not in chapel, Caldwell expects recruiting to keep him on the road.
“I have traveled a great deal in my life with ministry,” Caldwell said. “My father was an evangelist and church planter, so we traveled extensively. It is not foreign to me and I knew that that’s what the job would entail.”
Rudy Gonzalez, Southwestern Seminary’s vice president for student services, said of Caldwell, “Coming to us with a rich and varied background as music minister, soloist, composer, evangelist, and pastor as well as substantial experience in all areas of Christian cable television ministry, Dr. Caldwell will bring many valuable skills to both the development of Southwestern’s chapel services and student recruitment.”
Caldwell and his wife, Deana, recently celebrated 25 years of marriage. They have three adult children and two young granddaughters.