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Southwestern Seminary community sees answers to prayer during 2023

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FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — In answer to a prayer movement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary that began in October 2022, the Fort Worth institution has seen God’s hand at work through faculty, students and alumni during the 2023 calendar year.

David S. Dockery was elected the tenth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary by the institution’s board of trustees at their April meeting. His election was made retroactive to September 27, 2022, when he was elected interim president. Dockery was installed as president in an investiture ceremony as part of the seminary’s August convocation service to begin the fall academic semester.

“We continue to give thanks for the prayer movement across the campus as well as the positive changes in the culture as faculty, staff and students have recommitted themselves to becoming a grace-filled, Christ-centered, scripturally-grounded, confessionally-guided, student-focused and globally-engaged campus,” said David S. Dockery, president of Southwestern Seminary, who was elected the institution’s 10th president by the board of trustees in April. His election was made retroactive to Sept. 27, 2022, when he was elected interim president. O.S. Hawkins was also elected chancellor of Southwestern during the April trustee meeting.

During his January convocation address, Dockery shared his hope for a “grace-filled community” across Seminary Hill. Two months later, during the annual Founder’s Day chapel, the faculty of Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College affirmed the third and fourth core values of scripturally grounded and confessionally guided, respectively.

Southwestern Seminary and TBC students and faculty lived out the institution’s sixth core value – globally engaged –making classroom teaching hands-on by providing biblical counseling training to ministers in Japan, working alongside North American Mission Board (NAMB) Send Relief centers in New York and Boston through spring and fall mission trips, and working alongside International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries who serve in Cambodia during a fall break mission trip. Additionally, students were sent out across the United States in March to preach the Gospel through the Revive the Nation initiative and another group shared the Gospel in New Orleans during Crossover the week before the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College students lived out the institution’s six core value – globally engaged – as they served on mission trips organized through the World Missions Center to take the Gospel to New York City, Boston, Japan, and Cambodia. During the October mission trip to Cambodia students served alongside International Mission Board missionaries in local schools.

A number of IMB missionaries who were trained on Seminary Hill before being deployed to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth returned to the Fort Worth campus in September for Global Missions Week. Mary’s House, a partnership between Southwestern Seminary and Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, opened on campus in January. Named after the late WMU of Texas president, Mary Hill Davis, the house is a refurbished two-story building on campus that can accommodate two IMB missionary families on stateside assignment in two fully furnished apartments.

In his report to the trustees during the October meeting, Dockery highlighted the increase in the number of full-time enrollment (FTE) students, which saw an uptick in both the spring and fall semesters.

During the June 13-14 SBC meetings, Dondi Costin, president of Liberty University, and Buddy Gray, pastor of Hunter Street Baptist Church, were honored with the seminary’s distinguished alumni awards.

W. Madison Grace II was installed as the new provost and vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology in August. Joshua Williams was named director of the seminary’s Research Doctoral Programs while Michael Wilkinson was appointed director of the Professional Doctoral Programs.

In August, the city of Fort Worth gave the final approval for the purchase of B.H. Carroll Park property. The seminary announced in March it had accepted the city’s offer to purchase the non-contiguous portion of the seminary’s campus.

Faculty and students made academic presentations and moderated panel discussions during the annual Evangelical Theological Society meetings held Nov. 13-15 in San Antonio. At the Southwestern Alumni and Friends reception during the meetings Heath Thomas, president of OBU, and Wyman Lewis Richardson, pastor of Central Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas, were honored with the Curtis Vaughan Award for Contribution to the Study of Christian Scripture and James Leo Garrett Jr. Award for Contribution to Christian Thought, respectively, for their written contributions to theological academia. Thomas and Richardson are both graduates of Southwestern.

Southwestern faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors gathered on the Fort Worth campus Oct. 14 for the “Day of Prayer,” which included a prayer walk around the campus to pray for students, the institution’s four graduate schools and undergraduate college, the school’s ministry and academic centers, and student-focused offices.

Through spring and fall commencement ceremonies, Southwestern Seminary and TBC graduated almost 700 students representing more than 30 U.S. states and territories and 24 countries to live their callings by joining more than 41,000 living alumni who serve in every inhabited time zone around the world and proclaim the Gospel.

“Southwestern Seminary continues to face ongoing challenges, but faculty, staff, and students are looking forward to the 2024 year with a genuine sense of hopefulness and ongoing dependence on God for His provision, blessings, and favor,” Dockery concluded.

An expanded version of this story is available here.

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  • Ashley Allen/Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary