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Southwestern honors 5 donors as ‘men and women of vision’

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Faye McCombs didn’t want seminary students to go through the same financial hardships her parents did. David and Charis Smith had been inspired by a music minister who died too young. And Don and Elizabeth O’Neal wanted to help fulfill the Great Commission and honor a former pastor.

All of them “invested” in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and all of them received B.H. Carroll Awards, the highest honor bestowed by Southwestern, during a luncheon March 8 at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary.

President Kenneth S. Hemphill called the recipients “a living testimony … of how to invest in theological education.”

“I know that I am among people who are here not because they want any attention or merit for doing something, but simply because they believe in the mission of this school,” Hemphill said.

People who invest in Southwestern will receive “eternal rewards and dividends,” he added.

McCombs, who was honored posthumously, had been president of Louisiana Gas and Oil Company. Her father, Gideon Bush, attended Southwestern in the 1930s but had to drop out because of a lack of finances. Although he was a Texas church’s pastor for 69 years, he never completed his seminary education.

Linda Mayberry, McCombs’ cousin, received the award on behalf of the family. She said that McCombs was a very giving person.

“She helped everybody,” Mayberry said. “She loved helping young students who went to the seminary because the seminary meant so much to her dad and her mom.”

The Bush Scholarship Fund, which McCombs started in honor of her parents, supports students from Hunt County, Texas, who are entering the pastorate or missions.

The Smiths were members of South Main Baptist Church in Houston when music minister Thad Roberts was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Roberts encouraged the Smiths to join the choir and impressed them with his leadership, musical abilities, ministerial skills and character.

As Roberts’ cancer spread, David Smith said it was an “ideal time to sell an item he had.” The item was his bank, which he sold and donated a portion of the proceeds to Southwestern to honor Roberts and help the seminary produce other music ministers with the qualities that Roberts had.

“I cherish and love this institution,” Smith said. And it’s just great to be a part of the life of an institution that has such huge fruit that reaches so far.”

The O’Neals have been members of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas, since 1984 when Jimmy Draper, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Christian Resources, was pastor.

“I think our whole family grew a lot spiritually under him, and we enjoyed getting to serve with him,” Don O’Neal said.

Already active in ministry at their church, the O’Neals saw an opportunity to have a global impact by investing in Southwestern. They began the James T. Draper Chair of Pastoral Ministries at the seminary in honor of their former pastor.

“I don’t know of any other institution in the world that truly can touch the world and impact eternity like Southwestern … to do what we’re told to do in the Great Commission, to go out to our backyards, our communities, our countries of the world to touch lives and impact them with the gospel,” O’Neal said.

Begun in 1982, the B.H. Carroll Awards were named after the seminary’s founder and first president.

Recipients are “selected men and women of vision who have a significant role in the total ministry of Southwestern Seminary,” Hemphill said.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: FAYE MCCOMBS, THE SMITHS, THE O’NEALS.

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  • Matt Sanders