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TRUSTEES: NOBTS centennial funding challenge embraced

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Trustees of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary joined with the rest of the seminary community in the celebration of the seminary’s first 100 years during their fall meeting Oct. 2-4.

Trustees voted last spring to reschedule the fall meeting so it could be held during the launch of the centennial celebration Oct. 3. Board members participated in Founders’ Day chapel services led by Kelley and an evangelism-focused centennial kickoff on the evening of Oct. 3 featuring evangelist Junior Hill.

The day’s revival-like atmosphere offered a time to reflect on God’s provision for NOBTS. As the celebration continues, the focus will shift toward the seminary’s future.

“At this phase of our centennial, we are looking back at all that God has done,” Kelley said. “We will move from looking back to looking at where we are now. When we get to Founders’ Day in October of 2018, the topic will be the next 100 years — what does the future look like for NOBTS during the next 100 years.”

In a unique board action, trustees voted to accept a giving challenge to mark the seminary’s centennial. The matching gift challenge was initiated by an anonymous seminary donor and could result in as much as $500,000 in donations.

The donor, who has given a number of large gifts to NOBTS in recent years, agreed to match any trustee-related gifts up to a total of $250,000. The donor stated that the gifts could come from current or former NOBTS trustees or their friends and acquaintances. The gifts will count toward the $50-million Second Century Initiative — a five-year fundraising effort tied to the seminary’s centennial celebration.

Trustees also approved a plan to implement master’s-level training at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. The program will be cohort-based, with all students in the program taking the same classes each semester and completing the master of divinity degree at the same time. Funded with a grant awarded by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and a private gift, 37 students have been selected to participate in the initial cohort.

During his presidential report, Kelley noted that the seminary has a growing endowment and more scholarships than ever. Among the most exciting scholarship opportunities, Kelley said, are Caskey scholarships and a scholarship for African American students.

The Caskey Center offers full-tuition scholarships for bivocational or smaller church ministers in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming.

“We have more diversity than ever before,” Kelley stated. “Our student body is changing. We have invested $870,000 in scholarships to help African American students study at NOBTS [since 2011].” Kelley indicated that the administration intends to continue to expand opportunities for minority students.

Trustees voted to move the seminary’s Orlando Hub from First Baptist Church in Orlando to the Church at the Cross in Orlando and approved a church leadership certificate site at God’s Acre Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Also during the meeting, Kelley announced the retirement of Bill Day, professor of evangelism and church health at NOBTS. Trustees elected Day to the new position of distinguished research professor.