News Articles

Southwestern trustees elect 2 deans, approve M.Div., college

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary elected two new deans during their semiannual meeting on the seminary’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus April 6.

Trustees approved a new Master of Divinity degree with optional concentrations to replace five previously offered Master of Divinity degree programs. The most notable difference between the new degree and previous M.Div. programs is that the study of biblical languages is required. Each student will be required to take four semesters of Greek and three semesters of Hebrew.

Trustees also approved in principle the establishment of Southwestern Baptist Theological College, an undergraduate institution located on the Fort Worth campus. Seminary President Paige Patterson said the undergraduate school will offer a Christ-centered, biblical education for those who later want to pursue vocational ministry and a master’s degree at the seminary.

Patterson established an undergraduate school at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., during his tenure there. When the college is formed at Southwestern, it will be the fifth such institution created by Southern Baptist seminaries.

Elected as deans were David Allen, 47, for the seminary’s theology school and Denny Autrey, 52, for the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston, where he also will serve as professor of pastoral ministries.

Allen will assume his duties in August and will oversee the development of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching, the formation of which trustees approved during their meeting.

Allen served as chairman of the seminary’s trustees from 2003-04. His term as a trustee expired this year. He currently serves as professor of expository preaching at the Criswell College in Dallas and is senior pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving.

A Georgia native, Allen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Criswell College in 1978. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Seminary in 1981 and a Ph.D. in humanities at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1987.

Craig Blaising, Southwestern’s executive vice president and provost, said Allen’s election as dean signaled the right time to establish the Center for Expository Preaching.

“Dr. Allen, as the W.A. Criswell Professor of Expository Preaching, directed the Jerry Vines Institute for Biblical Preaching at Criswell College. His experience and skill will transfer to the directorship of this new center at Southwestern,” Blaising said.

Blaising said Southwestern is attracting attention with the addition of prominent preaching faculty, including Calvin Pearson and Stephen Smith, the son of former Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith. He also said that a newly created master’s certificate in expository preaching, which can be earned as part of Southwestern’s new Master of Divinity degree, testifies to the seminary’s belief in the importance of preaching and the teaching of preaching on its campus.

“Dr. Allen … is a biblical scholar, a theologian and an excellent practitioner of ministry, a model example in all the areas of training represented by the school,” Blaising said. “He has established himself with excellence in the expository preaching of God’s Word.”

Autrey, who will serve as a resident officer for Southwestern’s Havard School in Houston, graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1976. He graduated from Southwestern with a Master of Divinity and with a biblical languages degree and Doctor of Ministry degree in 1984 and 1987, respectively.

Autrey is pastor of First Baptist Church of Lindale, Texas, but has served several educational institutions. He was adjunct professor of Old and New Testament survey at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, from 1982-84. He served as adjunct professor of New Testament survey at the Ministry Training Institute of Oklahoma Baptist University and was adjunct professor of biblical studies and leadership at Criswell College from 2000-04.

Blaising said Autrey “carries within him the zeal of B.H. Carroll and L.R. Scarborough and he will lead the school of Southwestern in Houston to be a lighthouse of ministry and training and instruction, faithful to the inerrant Word of God, for all of southeast Texas.”

Autrey also has served on Southwestern’s board of trustees.

Trustees also approved the installation of Robert Welch as the dean of the educational ministries school. Welch, professor of administration, had been serving as the acting dean of the school since the resignation of its former dean last year.

Rudy Gonzalez, who has been serving under presidential appointment as vice president of student services since January 2004, was elected to his position and also to serve as professor of New Testament.

The selection of new deans and seminary officers marks the beginning of seminary President Patterson’s shaping of his administration and the seminary. Patterson said he was pleased to find Allen and Autrey willing to undertake their respective tasks.

Patterson, voicing optimism about Southwestern’s future, cited in his report to trustees an increase in enrollment in the spring semester — a “miracle that transpired” — as evidence that the seminary is healthy and moving in the right direction.

“We were actually up a few students in the spring over the fall semester. This almost never happens,” Patterson said. He said he continues to meet with each prospective student, assuming his schedule allows it. Patterson encouraged pastors, satisfied alumni and the parents of students to trust Southwestern Seminary with those called to ministry.

The seminary, he said, will focus over the coming years to strengthen three areas: the church music school and the master of divinity and doctoral programs in the theology school.

“In the music school we have suffered a considerable attrition rate across the years. That has nothing to do with a failure here at Southwestern Seminary. The faculty is as technically proficient as ever. But as you know we are in the midst of a revolution in our churches,” Patterson said, noting that many music ministers are not seeking seminary training today.

Patterson also said that changes to the master of divinity curriculum and doctoral program will attract students and increase enrollment in those programs.

The new Southwestern master of divinity degree offers 18 hours of free electives that allow students to obtain a certificate of concentration in one of 18 areas.

In addition to the required four semesters of Greek and three semesters of Hebrew, other changes to the master of divinity program include the revision of Baptist history courses to include a greater emphasis on the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Program, and the introduction of a required spiritual formation course that will include chapel attendance and a weekly session. Trustees also approved the addition of a course on the Christian home to the philosophical and ethics studies requirement of the new master of divinity degree.

In other business, trustees:

— voted to establish the David McDonnall Missionary Scholarship Fund. Patterson recommended the formation of the scholarship fund after he spoke with trustees about the dedication of Southwestern students David and Carrie McDonnall.

David McDonnall was killed in Iraq along with three other International Mission Board personnel March 15. Only his wife, Carrie, survived. “We have not heard from her mouth one time that she wished they hadn’t gone,” Patterson said.

Patterson pledged the first $1,000 for the scholarship fund, and trustee Michael Dean (Texas), pastor to the McDonnalls at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, called on all members of the board to contribute. “An affirmative vote on the behalf of the trustees indicates their moral and financial support for the scholarship fund,” Dean said.

— elected as chairman of the board David Galvan, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Garland, Texas, and the first Hispanic to assume the leadership of a board for a Southern Baptist entity. Galvan served as vice chairman during the past year and is a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was described by trustee Philip Walker (Va.) as “respected across the state of Texas and beyond … a man of integrity with a sweet, sweet spirit.”

— elected as vice chairman T. Van McClain, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Schenectady, N.Y. Trustee Dan Nelson (Calif.) said McClain has immense experience in academic administration and is “very versed in parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order.”

— re-elected as secretary Royal E. Smith, a retired psychologist from Southlake, Texas.

— adopted a budget of $31.5 million, a 2.58 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.

— approved the designation of the J. Dalton Havard Center for Theological Studies in Houston, Texas, as a school of Southwestern Seminary.

— approved in principle the establishment of a School of Evangelism and Missions on the Fort Worth campus. Trustee Ted Stone of North Carolina said he is thankful that the evangelism school is becoming a reality. “I believe it will attract students from all over the globe,” Stone said. He said that he had pledged $1,000 for the foundation of the school.

— elected eight faculty members to the theology and educational ministries schools.

— approved the presidential appointment of two faculty members in the theology school.

— promoted Benjamin Harlan, associate professor of church music, to professor of church music.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: MOMENT TO REFLECT, NEW CHAIRMAN and PRESIDENT’S OPTIMISM.

    About the Author

  • Gregory Tomlin