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Southwestern’s Vinson named Seminary Extension director

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A veteran of distance education is the newest executive director of Seminary Extension.

William Vinson, an instructor of Seminary Extension classes since 1984 and a current faculty member at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been named executive director of Seminary Extension, effective Aug. 1. He replaces Ed Thiele, who retired in June after serving as executive director for four and a half years. Vertis Butler is serving as interim director.

Seminary Extension, a ministry of the Council of Seminary Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, exists to provide ministers and laity with the opportunity to take classes close to home. This is done through more than 500 extension centers. The hours can be transferred to universities or counted toward Seminary Extension diplomas and certificates. Seminary Extension’s offices are located in Nashville, Tenn.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Council of Seminary Presidents as well as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that Vinson has the experience needed to lead Seminary Extension into a new millennium.

“We are thrilled with the appointment of Dr. Bill Vinson as director of Seminary Extension,” Mohler said. “He will build on the proud tradition of that program with innovative approaches that will transform seminary extension over the next several years. He is an experienced leader in distance education and has been a pioneer in using technology to extend the reach of the classroom.”

Vinson is a two-time graduate of Southwestern, having earned the doctor of philosophy degree in 1987 and the master of divinity degree in 1981. He has taught at Southwestern since 1981, and was elected to the faculty in 1999. He is currently serving as director of the seminary’s department of undergraduate and lay theological studies.

While at Southwestern Vinson pioneered the effort to offer Seminary Extension courses on the Internet as well as CD.

“Picking up the baton from Dr. Ed Thiele, we will be building on the successes of the last 50 years of work done at Seminary Extension,” Vinson said. “Dr. Thiele spoke much wisdom when he said, ‘If you try to do the Lord’s business without the Lord, you’ll just be wasting time.’ This is God’s business, and when He builds, it will not only last, it will be supernaturally effective.”

Vinson has served as pastor of Freedom Baptist Fellowship since 1995. Freedom Baptist is a house church where students can train for the ministry.

Seminary Extension is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding; enrollment is expected to top 12,000 this year.

Vinson said the need for Seminary Extension cannot be overstated.

“It exists so that the laity can have the education brought to them rather than them have to go to a school,” he said. “That is very important. If we’re going to have any change in the world, it’s going to come through the laity.”

For information on seminary extension, visit its website at http://www.seminaryextension.com.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WILLIAM VINSON.

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  • Michael Foust