LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Southern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees elected their first African American officer in the school’s 159-year history by a unanimous vote during their April 16 meeting.
The election of Alan “Keith” Daniels, a businessman from Texas and member of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, as board secretary is “another necessary step in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention demonstrating at every level of denominational leadership the diversity to which we are called,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary.
“It’s also a celebration of the fact that the Lord is gifting Southern Baptists with leaders, church members, pastors, and congregations that are helping this denomination every day look more like America and more like the world around us,” Mohler said in an interview following the meeting.
Daniels is the franchise owner of multiple Christian Brothers Automotive locations in the Dallas area.
Also elected as new trustee officers: chairman Matt Schmucker, executive director of the Together for the Gospel biennial conference and member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.; first vice chairman Clint Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., who previously served as the board’s secretary; and second vice chairman John Montgomery, dean of spiritual life at California Baptist University in Riverside.
In addition to the election of new board officers, trustees elected and promoted faculty members; adopted an updated strategic plan and a $51.5 million budget for 2018-2019; and honored Mohler for the recent 25-year anniversary of his election as Southern Seminary’s president.
Trustees elected Jeremy L. Pierre as the Lawrence and Charlotte Hoover Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling. Pierre also is the seminary’s dean of students and chair of the biblical counseling and family ministry department. He has served on seminary faculty since 2011 and previously taught English at the seminary’s undergraduate Boyce College.
The board elected to the faculty, effective Aug. 1, John David Trentham as associate professor of leadership and discipleship; Melissa Tucker, associate professor of elementary education; and Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation. The board also approved faculty sabbaticals for the 2018-2019 academic year.
At the midpoint of Southern Seminary’s 10-year reaccreditation process, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires an evaluation and update of the school’s strategic plan. Mohler presented that update to trustees, informing them about the process, which will continue until 2024.
The updated strategic plan represents the board’s spring 2018 review of key institutional priorities and establishment of objectives for the next five academic years, according to the document. The updated plan includes details about initiatives to help the seminary meet the goals outlined in the strategic plan.
The board recognized outgoing chairman John Thweatt, who has served on the board since 2008 and as the board’s chair since 2016. Thweatt is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pell City, Ala., and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. The board adopted a resolution in Thweatt’s honor.
Mohler, speaking to Thweatt, said, “Mr. Chairman, for your service as a trustee for two full terms, and for your service as an officer for numerous years, your service for two years as chairman of the board, we are incredibly grateful. It has been a privilege to work with you, and I know this board expresses appreciation for your service as chairman.”
Commenting on Schmucker as the new trustee chairman, Mohler said the Together for the Gospel movement “would have been impossible if not for the administrative brilliance and heartfelt commitment that Matt Schmucker brings, and having him serve as chairman of this board will be very fulfilling.”
In other business:
— Trustees approved an operating budget of $51,520,824 for the 2018-2019 academic year. After presenting the proposed budget, Mohler paused the meeting to express gratitude to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.
— Daniels, as a member of the trustees’ resolutions committee, informally recognized that this spring represents the 25th anniversary of Mohler’s election as Southern’s president. Mohler was elected on March 26, 1993. Members of the board gave Mohler a standing ovation. He commented in response: “These 25 years have been a thrill — the greatest privilege of my life, but I want you to know that I could not have possibly done this without my wife, Mary. You have to realize, when Mary gets to tell the story her way, trustee meetings in the early years were when friends finally came.”
— Trustees heard reports from their subcommittees about financial and student body matters reflecting God’s work in the health of the seminary.
— The board adopted a resolution of appreciation to Stanley Craig for his “service and commitment” during five years as a trustee. He resigned his position on the board prior to the April 16 meeting in order to relocate closer to his grandchildren in Orlando, Fla.
The next trustee meeting will be Oct. 8-9 in Louisville.