FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees took several actions to undergird the institution’s future during their fall meeting, Oct. 21.
Trustees approved the groundbreaking on a new chapel, added the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to the seminary’s policy manual, approved the appointment of a new dean of the College at Southwestern and renamed the school of educational Ministries.
Trustees unanimously authorized the administration to proceed with the construction of a new 3,500-seat chapel to be located at the center of the campus. A groundbreaking ceremony was held that afternoon, with special guests Harold and Dottie Riley and their family present.
The Rileys gave a substantial lead gift to the seminary, which served as a catalyst for others to join in raising funds for the facility, fulfilling the seminary’s goal of receiving in pledges at least 85 percent of the total cost before breaking ground. Construction bids are still being received for the project, which trustees have authorized not to exceed $30.2 million.
Harold Riley’s father, Ray Riley, was a Texas oilfield foreman who left a lucrative career to attend Southwestern and go into ministry. Over time, Harold witnessed the sacrifice his father would make to serve the Lord and saw him trust in the Lord’s provision for their needs. Many times, it was only through the generosity of others who would give the family enough money to make it through the month.
“I have great admiration, I have great appreciation and I have great thankfulness for the fact that God called my father into the ministry,” Riley said. “I saw the life that we lived and the struggles that we had getting through the different schools, with seminary being one of them. But God always provided.
“I’ve found that as we live our lives, they’re for other people,” Riley said. “… And that’s what all of this is about right here — leading other people to follow Christ. We wish all of you well in the development of this project, and we are pleased that we have the privilege of participating in this.”
Southwestern President Paige Patterson spoke of individuals who will come to faith in Christ or surrender their lives to foreign mission fields in the new building.
“Some people will call what we’re about to build a chapel,” Patterson said. “Others may call it an auditorium. Some may call it a worship center…. What we’re dealing with is to build a transaction house, a house where spiritual transactions take place that have eternal consequences. It’s not worth building unless that happens.”
SWBTS officials anticipate that the new chapel will be a world-class venue for training pastors in expository preaching and a place where the entire seminary family can gather in worship and celebration. The building also will house musical performances by the school of church music, such as the annual presentation of Handel’s “Messiah.”
Currently, the seminary is unable to hold graduation on campus due to a lack of adequate seating in its present chapel. The new chapel will be one of the largest indoor event facilities in Fort Worth, providing a premier auditorium to serve the campus family for its gatherings and celebrations as well as the city of Fort Worth and surrounding communities.
With steel and construction costs plummeting amid current economic times, local city projects have taken advantage of the opportunity to build for less. Southwestern anticipates a savings of at least $10 million.
In addition to approving the inclusion of the Chicago and Danvers statements to Southwestern’s policy manual under “Guiding Documents and Statements,” trustees approved the following resolution:
“We, the Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary resolve to support our current President in his position with regard to The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is our understanding that these statements are used as a model with reference to biblical ecclesiology. It is also our understanding that modern culture has migrated away from these ideals, therefore, the training of future churchmen and women is well served by including these statements in the development and implementation of processes that lead to this end. This resolution is an affirmation of our support.”
Patterson was involved in the formulation of both statements. In 1978, he served on the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, which was a collection of highly respected conservative theologians who formulated the Chicago Statement. In 1987, he and his wife Dorothy were part of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood when the Danvers Statement was drafted outlining the complementarian position on the roles of men and women in the church.
“The reason we added it is because the statement of faith which everyone signs is, by definition, reasonably brief and doesn’t have a great deal of explanation,” Patterson said. “These two items continue to come up, with people asking what you mean by the Bible being literally true. Indeed, we do not require the signing of these documents; they are merely documents to give perspective.”
The statements will be used as guides in the hiring and evaluation processes at the seminary, Patterson said, noting, “More than anything else, it establishes the general posture of the school.”
NEW COLLEGE DEAN
Trustees elected Steven W. Smith as the new dean of the College at Southwestern (CSW), effective Jan. 1. Smith, currently assistant professor of preaching and associate dean for the professional doctoral program at Southwestern, earned his Ph.D. in communications from Regent University in 2003 and will serve as CSW’s first professor of communications.
“We’re very delighted to have Steven Smith as the new dean of the college,” Patterson said. “He brings a degree in communications that fits perfectly within the curriculum that we have established. Second, his relative youthfulness will make him very popular with students. He has shown great administrative skills in the assignments he has had as head of the doctor of ministry program. So, we are confident that this is going to be of great benefit to the college.”
The College at Southwestern was started in 2005 and provides accredited bachelor of arts degrees in humanities and music. Students are prepared through their studies to respond to culture, own their faith and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any ministry context.
Smith’s first book, “Dying to Preach: Embracing the Cross in the Pulpit,” has just been released. Smith earned his master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1994 and his bachelor’s in communication from Liberty University in 1989.
Before joining SWBTS’ faculty, Smith served as pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., and associate pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Dallas.
NEW NAME FOR EDUCATION SCHOOL
Trustees approved the president’s recommendation to adopt a new name for the seminary’s education school. The school of educational ministries, one of Southwestern’s six schools, was renamed the Jack D. Terry, Jr., School of Church and Family Ministries, effective immediately.
“The changing face of church life in America and in the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention has revealed an alarming loss of emphasis on the preparation of families in the local church to accomplish tasks assigned by our Lord,” Patterson said in his recommendation to the trustees. “To reverse this trend will require innovative and aggressive strategies. Already, Dr. Waylan Owens has been elected as the new dean of the school of educational ministries. Major efforts are underway to determine precisely what the churches need and how to meet those needs.”
Patterson said that changing the school’s name to the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries will encourage this family oriented approach to ministry. The seminary also has attempted to foster this approach to ministry by establishing a concentration in family ministry and by planning a family ministry conference next spring. The education school’s new name reflects the variety of programs within the school as well as this focus on the family.
The education school’s name change also honors “a man who has given as many highly productive years to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, serving in varied positions, as anyone ever has,” Patterson said.
During Terry’s 40 years at Southwestern, Patterson said, “He has taught as a professor, served as the dean of the school of religious Education and as vice president for institutional advancement, raising significant funds and building long-lasting relationships that continue to benefit the seminary today and into the future. All of this he has accomplished in the context of functioning as ‘churchman par excellence.’ No one could be more deserving of this honor, but more important is the fact that the seminary will display the model of what education ought to accomplish in our churches by attaching Dr. Terry’s name to this vital program.”
Terry presently serves as vice president emeritus and special assistant to the president as well as professor of foundations of education at Southwestern.
Born in Houma, La., Terry graduated from East Texas Baptist University in 1956 and from Southwestern in 1962, 1967 and 1994. He also completed postdoctoral studies at North Texas State University and the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He has been recognized with Outstanding and Distinguished Alumnus awards from both East Texas Baptist University (1974) and Southwestern Seminary (1999). Terry and his wife Barbara have two children and four grandchildren.
Terry has authored and contributed to several publications, such as “Leadership in Higher Education: A Handbook for Practicing Administrators” (1983), “The Theological Foundation of Religious Education” in The Ministry of Religious Education (1978), and “God as Teacher” in The Teaching Ministry of the Church (1995).
Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (www.swbts.edu).