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Southwestern Seminary sees God’s ‘favor’ in 2022, Dockery says

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FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — In keeping with Founder B.H. Carroll’s vision for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the institution saw God’s “favor” in 2022 in continuing its mission to assist the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by preparing God-called men and women for ministry by graduating more than 600 students to serve as pastors, church leaders, missionaries, and ambassadors for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Texas and around the world, Interim President David S. Dockery said. 

“The 2022 year has been characterized by markers of God’s providential care, blessing, and favor for the Southwestern community,” said Dockery. “How grateful we are for the dedicated oversight of the Board of Trustees, the investment in students by our gifted faculty, and the overall support of the staff, alumni, and friends. Watching these graduates, who have been equipped to live out their calling in a faithful manner, walk across the stage served as one example among many others which point to a hope-filled future for Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College. With heartfelt gratitude to God, it is a joy to reflect on some of these significant events of recent months.”

Dockery was appointed to a joint leadership role alongside O.S. Hawkins by the board of trustees in a special called meeting on Sept. 27. Hawkins was named senior advisor and ambassador-at-large.

Graduates represented more than half of the states in the United States and more than two dozen countries and included 38 students who were the first Master of Theological Studies in Mandarin recipients37 students who earned the first certificates in Hispanic church planting, and four students who comprised the first cohort to receive doctoral degrees in the seminary’s new Doctor of Education program.

During the Founders’ Day address to the Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College community in March, Hawkins reminded the gathering of faculty, staff, students, and donors of Carroll’s vision for the Fort Worth institution when it was chartered on March 14, 1908. Carroll served as the first president until his death in 1914. Hawkins reminded the gathering that “he being dead still speaks today.”

“Each of us who are ‘official Southwesterners’ should follow in his footsteps with courage, conviction, consistency, and cooperation,” Hawkins said. “These are our roots here at Southwestern.”

Following the resignation of Southwestern Seminary’s ninth president, Adam W. Greenway, the seminary community was called to prayer by Dockery. Beginning Oct. 3, the seminary community began to gather in the rotunda of the B.H. Carroll Memorial Building each Monday for a time of prayer and students, faculty, and staff joined together for prayer 30 minutes before the bi-weekly chapel services for the remainder of the semester. Identified by Dockery as the theme verse for the academic year, Psalm 90:17 became the prayer focus as the campus community asked the Lord to show favor to the Fort Worth institution.

The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Nevada Baptist Convention, as well as a number of individuals and Southern Baptist churches, including Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; Second Baptist Church in Houston, TexasJohnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia; First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas; First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas; North Richland Hills Baptist Church in North Richland Hills, Texas; among others, offered financial support with special gifts to the seminary following the leadership transition.

Several administrative leadership appointments were also announced in October, including Matt Queen as interim provost and vice president for academic administration. Queen serves as associate dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, professor of evangelism, and the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“Chair of Fire”). Michele Smith, who began serving at Southwestern in March as associate vice president for finance was named interim vice president for financial services and chief financial officer. Michael Wilder, who was named associate provost for innovative learning in June following three years serving as dean of the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries, was named interim vice president for strategic initiatives and chief catalyst officer. Jack D. Terry, who has served Southwestern Seminary for over five decades in several roles including as dean of the Terry School and vice president emeritus for institutional advancement, was named interim vice president for institutional advancement.

While students were commissioned to advance the Kingdom of God during commencement ceremonies, Southwestern Seminary and TBC students were actively participating in the Great Commission during their time of study on the Fort Worth campus. More than 30 students participated in the SBC’s Crossover the week before the annual meeting in Anaheim. The result included more than 230 Gospel conversations and 18 people coming to faith in Christ. Students also participated in mission trips to North Africa and the Middle EastCentral and Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia.

Southwestern Seminary, which has sent more missionaries to serve with the International Mission Board than any other seminary in the history of theological education, furthered the institution’s commitment to equipping missionaries to serve by announcing a 100 percent scholarship for IMB missionaries in August. The scholarship covers the full tuition for IMB missionaries who are enrolled in the seminary’s master’s and doctoral programs. Students who have applied for missionary service to the IMB and have yet to receive appointments receive 100 percent tuition for a 36-hour Master of Theological Studies degree, which fulfills the board’s theological education requirement.

The top students at Southwestern Seminary and TBC were recognized for their academic achievements during the spring academic awards banquet. Nominated and voted upon by the faculty of their respective schools, the 49 students who received awards were celebrated for their academic accomplishments during a banquet in May. Four students from the School of Church Music and Worship were honored in April with first-place awards in five categories for their musical talents during the National Association of Teachers of Singing Student Auditions for the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter. The SCMW’s excellence in teaching and training was further highlighted as the Southwestern A Cappella musical ensemble was showcased during September’s Getty Sing! Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Hosted by internationally recognized worship leaders Keith and Kristyn Getty, the annual conference brings together worship leaders from around the globe.

Dockery, who served as president of Union University for almost two decades, was named to the Tennessee-based institution’s inaugural Hall of Honor during bicentennial festivities in September. Rebekah Naylor, distinguished professor of missions and missionary-in-residence, was honored by her alma mater, Baylor University, in February with the Waco, Texas, institution’s 2022 Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service for the three decades she served as a medical missionary to India through the IMB. 

The third annual “Book of the Year” awards by the Southwestern Journal of Theology honored the top overall book, Christian Theology by Adam Harwood, professor of theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and top books in 12 categories. Chosen by Southwestern Seminary and TBC faculty, the awards recognized outstanding contributions published in 2022 by fellow scholars. Coleman Ford, assistant professor of humanities at TBC, was recognized for his November publication A Bond Between Souls: Letters in the Friendship of Augustine, which was published by Lexham Press. 

Southwestern and TBC further recognized the contributions to theological scholarship during fall commencement through the awarding of the James Leo Garrett Jr. Award for Contribution to Christian Thought to Harwood, a two-time Southwestern Seminary alumnus, and the Curtis Vaughan Award for Contribution to the Study of Christian Scripture to co-recipients J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays. Duvall and Hays, senior professor of New Testament and senior professor of Old Testament, respectively, at Southwestern Seminary, both hold degrees from the Fort Worth institution. During spring commencement ceremonies, the inaugural David S. and Lanese Dockery Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to Mark E. Taylor, associate dean of the School of Theology and professor of New Testament.

During the fall board of trustee meeting in October, N. Chris Shirley was named the dean of the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries. Shirley, a two-time alumnus of Southwestern Seminary, also serves as professor of educational ministries and is the Jack D. and Barbara Terry Chair of Religious Education. Trustees also named Matthew McKellar, professor of preaching, to the George W. Truett Chair of Ministry. 

Additionally, in action by the board of trustees, Carl Bradford was named as the occupant of the newly established Malcolm and Melba McDow Chair of Evangelism. Given by anonymous donors at the $2 million level to fully endow an academic chair, the new chair honors the longtime Southwestern Seminary professor of evangelism and his wife. Bradford, who is a two-time alumnus of Southwestern Seminary, has served as assistant professor of evangelism at the seminary since 2018.

The academic acumen of the Southwestern Seminary and TBC faculty and students was displayed through 19 paper presentations and the facilitation of panel discussions during the annual Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) meetings held in November in Denver, Colorado. Dockery, who has served in several roles for the organization, including as president in 2018, was honored for his time of service as his seven years on the ETS executive committee came to an end. Southwestern Seminary faculty and students also represented the institution at the Society of Professors of Christian Education annual meeting in October. The gathering of professors of theological pedagogy focused on uniting the mission of the academy and the church.

As the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24, one Southwestern Seminary alumnus, Yaroslav Pyzh, who has served as the president of the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary in Lviv since 2013, led his institution to not only continue educating its students but also serve and minister to thousands of their countrymen and women who were seeking shelter before making the 40-mile trek to neighboring Poland. Southern Baptists rallied to support Pyzh and UBTS through prayer, financial support, and boots on the ground.

Jeff P. Iorg and retired Rear Adm. Phillip “Endel” Lee Jr., were honored as the 2022 Southwestern Seminary Distinguished Alumni during the Alumni and Friends Luncheon at the SBC annual meeting in June. Iorg, who has served as the president of Gateway Seminary in Ontario, California, since 2004, earned a Doctor of Ministry from the Fort Worth institution in 1990. Lee, who served as the deputy chief of chaplains for reserve matters in the United States Navy until his retirement in September 2020, earned three degrees from Southwestern Seminary, including a Master of Divinity (1990), a Master of Arts in Religious Education (1998), and a Doctor of Philosophy (2000).

The seminary culminated the calendar year with a focus on the birth of Christ. In November, almost 2,000 people filled MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center on campus to hear the musical talents of the SCMW’s student choirs, ensembles, bands, and instrumentalists through “Prelude to Christmas: Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery,” based on the worship song by worship leaders Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. Offered as a free concert to the entire Fort Worth and neighboring communities, the Gospel message was proclaimed through song as students led the two-and-a-half-hour concert.

In December, the campus community welcomed internationally known worship leaders Keith and Kristyn Getty for the fifth stop on their 17-city tour for Sing! An Irish Christmas. Almost 1,700 people from across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas, and neighboring states enjoyed Christ-centered Christmas music and traditional carols in a concert that also included Boswell and Papa and Christian hip-hop artist Trip Lee.

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