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TRUSTEES: NOBTS adds degrees, training sites

EDITOR’S NOTE: A report on faculty elections, promotions and tenture at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary follows this story.

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees have approved three major curriculum initiatives — a doctor of philosophy degree in biblical interpretation, a master of arts degree in apologetics and a bachelor of arts in music with an emphasis in worship.

Also approved during their spring meeting was the expansion of the doctor of philosophy major in preaching by adding three areas of specialization that students can choose — biblical exposition, pastoral theology and homiletics — and two certificates in missions to assist International Mission Board apprentice missionaries to complete the theological requirements for that position.

In other actions, the board also approved a $21.6 million budget, other degree revisions and new teaching sites.

Rather than focusing on either the Old Testament or New Testament like other Ph.D. majors in biblical studies, the new Ph.D. in biblical interpretation emphasizes exposition of both testaments. Students will then choose a focus in Old or New Testament for their dissertation. In addition to the emphasis on biblical exposition, the curriculum plan includes focused study in biblical backgrounds and hermeneutics.

The new biblical interpretation major utilizes a modified scheduling/residency plan, making it possible for students to earn the degree without relocating to campus. Under the modified plan, classes meet on campus for two days at a time, four different times per semester. One seminar will be offered per semester, with a summer seminar offered every other summer. One reading colloquium will be offered each semester with an additional colloquium offered every other summer.

NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke said the seminary is working to apply the modified scheduling approach to many of its Ph.D. majors. Along with the new biblical interpretation major, the Christian education, preaching, psychology and counseling Ph.D. majors at NOBTS offer the modified plan.

Lemke said the development of the modified scheduling plan is especially important for NOBTS because of the relatively small number of Southern Baptist churches within a 50-mile drive of the seminary. Most Ph.D. students, he said, serve on a church staff while earning their degrees. Modified scheduling gives students from farther away the opportunity to earn a Ph.D.

Trustees also approved revisions to the Ph.D. preaching major to offer three specialized areas of study: biblical exposition, pastoral theology and homiletics.

“Newly approved changes in our NOBTS research doctoral program reflect the continuing development of a more flexible yet rigorous and student-friendly Ph.D. degree,” said Jerry Barlow, dean of graduate studies. “The addition of a Ph.D. biblical interpretation major and the establishment of three concentrations in the preaching major provide more opportunities for students to gain advanced preparation for ministry and teaching than ever before.”

Both the Ph.D. major in biblical interpretation and the major in preaching require 64 hours of post-master’s study to complete.

Responding to interest from current and potential students, trustees approved the launch of a new 48-hour master of arts in apologetics. The degree is designed to equip pastors, student ministers, missionaries, evangelists and interfaith witness specialists to offer a reasoned defense of the Christian faith.

“Apologetics is one of the hottest areas of interest in our students, and an important skill in serving the Lord in our multicultural, multifaith world,” Lemke said. “We need an army of well-prepared apologists to address the onslaught of our secular culture and other faiths, and this degree prepares students to do just that.”

The degree plan includes a basic ministerial competency component with study in biblical exposition, theology and ethics in addition to the core Christian apologetics courses. Students are able to choose 15 hours of Christian apologetics electives to tailor the degree to fit individual ministry needs. Rather than a thesis-based approach, the NOBTS degree focuses on practical application and ministry skill development. Students must participate in a supervised apologetics ministry practicum to complete the degree.

Lemke said the new bachelor of arts in music with an emphasis in worship also is a response to student interest. Current undergraduate music students are interested in developing worship leadership skills as they develop a high level of musical proficiency. The new bachelor of arts retains the high standard of musicianship in NOBTS’ accredited program while offering additional opportunities to develop and improve worship leadership skills.

Trustees approved a graduate certificate in foundations for mission service to help International Mission Board apprentice missionary applicants meet the theological training requirements for service. Seminary officials worked closely with IMB leaders to develop the 12-hour graduate certificate plan. A 12-hour undergraduate certificate in foundations for mission service also has been developed for spouses of apprentice applicants who do not have a college degree.


Trustees continued in their efforts to make theological training more accessible to God-called men and women by approving four new training sites. One will be an undergraduate and graduate extension center; the others will offer certificate-level training.

For several years NOBTS and associational leaders in north Louisiana have explored establishing a center in Monroe. The nearest NOBTS extension site is approximately 100 miles from Monroe. With 50 potential students identified in the Monroe area, the seminary decided to move forward with the launch of the new center in the fall of 2012. The new trustee-approved extension center will be located at North Monroe Baptist Church.

Trustees approved church leadership certificate training sites at Mitspa Missionary Baptist Church in Nocross, Ga.; Christ Fellowship in Miami; and Orlando Rescue Mission in Orlando, Fla.

Trustees re-elected David Cranford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula, La., to a second term as chairman. Vice chairman Tom Harrison, executive pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., and secretary/treasurer, Marsha Dyess of Baton Rouge, La., also were re-elected to second terms.

In other action during their April 11 meeting, the board:

— approved a $21.6 million budget. Trustees were able to pass a balanced budget with only minor increases to student tuition and housing rates.

— activated the James D. and Rose Ramsey Chair of Psychology and Counseling. The chair is the result of a $416,880 gift given by Rose Ramsey in February.

— approved a $21.6 million budget. Trustees were able to pass a balanced budget with only minor increases to student tuition and housing rates.
Gary D. Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

NOBTS trustees elect
3 faculty members
By Gary D. Myers

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees elected three faculty members and approved faculty promotions and tenure during their spring meeting.

The board elected Jimmy Dukes as senior professor of New Testament and Greek; Craig Garrett as instructor in psychology and counseling; and Douglas Watkins as associate professor of Christian education. The men already have been serving in faculty and/or administrative roles at the seminary.

After 28 years on NOBTS’ faculty, Jimmy Dukes is moving from the role of full-time professor to senior professor. According to the NOBTS faculty manual, election as senior professor can be accorded to a retirement-age professor for his academic excellence and allow him or her to continue contributing to the seminary with reduced teaching loads and administrative responsibilities.

In his three decades of service, Dukes played a key role in the establishment, expansion and growth of the seminary’s extension center system and other innovative distance learning initiatives. Dukes was instrumental in launching the training programs at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola and training programs at three other prisons in Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Dukes has served as director of the North Georgia Extension Center (now the North Georgia Hub), director of the Orlando Hub, regional associate dean for Florida, director of prison programs and associate dean for innovative learning at NOBTS. In addition to his service as senior professor, Dukes will continue to direct the work of the seminary’s prison programs.

NOBTS provost Steve Lemke said Dukes is “a visionary in theological education who has served as the chairman of the Commission on Accreditation for our theological accrediting agency, ATS. He has served ably as an administrator in Leavell College, our extension center system and our prison programs as well as being an excellent teacher. We are thankful that he will continue sharing his expertise with us.”

Craig Garrett, who has served as NOBTS dean of students since 2008, is a current doctor of philosophy student in psychology and counseling. He is an experienced adjunct instructor often teaching undergraduate and graduate counseling courses at NOBTS.

Garrett came to NOBTS to study psychology and counseling in 2006 after serving five years as chaplain for the Calder Woods Retirement Community in Beaumont, Texas, which is affiliated with Buckner Baptist Benevolences. He earned a bachelor of arts degree at Texas A&M University and a master of education degree in counseling and development at Lamar University in Beaumont. Garrett recently earned the master of theology degree in psychology and counseling at NOBTS.

“The faculty in the department of psychology and counseling are extremely pleased with the election of Craig Garrett as instructor in psychology and counseling,” said Ian Jones, professor of psychology and counseling at NOBTS. “Mr. Garrett is a knowledgeable and competent teacher and counselor who is committed to teaching counseling based on the foundation of the Word of God, and he is a deeply devoted husband and father.”

Doug Watkins, elected as associate professor of Christian education, has served as the Florida Baptist Convention’s director of theological education since 2011. As part of his role with the Florida convention, Watkins also serves as the NOBTS regional associate dean for Florida.

Watkins earned a bachelor of arts from the University of Central Florida, a master of arts in Christian education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina and a doctor of educational ministry degree from New Orleans Seminary.

Before entering Christian ministry, Watkins taught science in the Brevard County School System in Titusville, Fla. In 1987 he began serving in church education ministry at Westside Baptist Church in Titusville and in 1996 he was appointed as an International Mission Board missionary to Brazil, serving there seven years. Since his return to the United States in 2003, Watkins has served as director of church growth and development with the Greater Orlando Baptist Association in Florida, as the central Florida associate for the Florida Baptist Convention’s Sunday School department and more recently as the convention’s director of theological education.

“Doug Watkins has served in a variety of settings — schools, local churches, associational missions, state convention work and international missions,” Lemke said. “We are thankful for the rich experience he brings to this significant position in our extension center system.”

In other action during their April 11 meeting, trustees approved three faculty rank promotions and granted tenure to five professors.

Promoted were:

— Jake P. Roudkovski from assistant professor to associate professor of evangelism.

— Robert B. Hall from associate professor to professor of discipleship.

— Sandra F. Vandercook from assistant professor to associate professor of English at Leavell College.

Receiving tenure:

— Michael H. Edens, professor of theology and Islamic studies and associate dean of graduate studies.

— W. Mark Tolbert, associate professor of evangelism and pastoral ministry and director of the doctor of ministry program.

— Jake P. Roudkovski, assistant professor of evangelism occupying the Max & Bonnie Thornhill Chair of Evangelism and director of supervised ministry.

– Rex D. Butler, associate professor of church history and patristics.

— Sandra F. Vandercook, assistant professor of English in the seminary’s Leavell College.

During the meeting, NOBTS President Chuck Kelley announced the appointment of Peter Kendrick as acting regional associate dean for Georgia and Alabama. Kelley also announced the appointment of Allen England as acting director of spiritual formation.