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TRUSTEES: NOBTS receives ‘providential gift’

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley announced details of a $1.5 million gift to NOBTS from an anonymous donor and other scholarship gifts for bivocational and African American students during the trustee executive committee’s June meeting.

The trustees also elected six new faculty members and launched several new teaching sites.

Kelley told trustees the “providential gift” — the largest single check during his presidency — comes at a critical time of need for the seminary.

The donor designated the gift be used in four ways.

Ten percent of the $1.5 million gift will provide technology upgrades in Bunyan Building and Hardin Student Center classrooms. For only an additional $5,000, presentation equipment in both the Leavell Center and Leavell Chapel also will be upgraded, Kelley said. Bids for the project already are in hand, with work to begin this summer.

“This will be the first time in our history that we’ve had all of our media presentation equipment on the same generation. We’re thrilled about that,” Kelley said.

The second designation is for $600,000 to be used for the construction of an on-campus community center to house the seminary’s homeschool program. The gift, plus $200,000 already set aside for the project, completes the anticipated $800,000 cost of the building.

“With so many campus families involved in homeschooling during their seminary days, the resource center made possible by this gift, coupled with an earlier gift from another family, addresses one of our most crucial needs,” Kelley said.

Kelley said many campus families who plan to serve with the International Mission Board opt to homeschool now because they anticipate homeschooling overseas. In addition, a robust homeschool program on the campus gives parents another alternative to New Orleans’ public school system.

The third portion of the gift –- totaling $500,000 –- will create a new professor position: a professor of church and community ministry in NOBTS’ newly-formed Church and Community Ministries Division. Kelley said the focus of the professorship will be “teaching students how you mobilize a congregation to get involved in ministry in their community around the church and in their city.”

“I strongly believe this is a skill set our churches must develop if we are to reach America in the 21st century,” Kelley said.

Kelley called this portion a “rolling endowment” in which the seminary draws down from the $500,000 each year until the funding is spent.

“They intend this to be for a professor’s salary for about five years. They tell us they anticipate adding more to this fund sometime before or at 2018,” he said.

Seminary leaders hope to fill the position by either Jan. 1, 2014, or the following August.

The final portion — $250,000 — will go toward entry/exit adjustments made necessary by the construction of a new Walmart in the shopping center located on the east side of the Hardin Student Center. Plans call for the store to open in mid-2014.

“Truly this is a providential gift. It addresses crucial missional and functional needs of the seminary,” Kelley said of the entire gift. “This is indeed a providential gift for the School of Providence and Prayer.”

Upon hearing Kelley’s report of the $1.5 million gift, the executive committee voted unanimously to accept and affirm the designations.

In addition to the $1.5 million four-part gift, the donor family renewed both a $100,000 scholarship for ministers of small and bivocational churches and a $100,000 scholarship for African American students in honor of SBC President Fred Luter.

Kelley added, “Recognizing the need to have more African Americans in the pool of candidates qualified to teach in Southern Baptist colleges and seminaries, the donor also announced a full scholarship for a qualified African American student to pursue a Ph.D. at the seminary.”

That scholarship, which will cover tuition, fees, books and housing, also will be named in honor of Luter.

The donors also gave Kelley a $25,000 check to establish a scholarship fund for present and former staff members and children of staff members of its church to attend NOBTS. That money is to be spent, not invested, with funds added as needed.

Kelley recounted that, in the weeks leading up to the June 4 trustee meeting, the donor family contacted him and requested the seminary draft a proposal for a new initiative to train bivocational and small church ministers.

Trustees elect faculty

The trustee executive committee elected six professors to tenure-track positions during the June 4 meeting:

— Hal Stewart as associate professor of discipleship, occupying the Broadmoor Chair of Discipleship. Stewart comes to NOBTS from Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he served as education pastor. He holds doctor of philosophy and master of theology degrees from NOBTS. Stewart’s M.Div. is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. A former high school teacher and principal, Stewart has more than 10 years of Christian education experience in churches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee.

— Adam Harwood as associate professor of theology, occupying the MacFarland Chair of Theology and directing the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry. Harwood earned a Ph.D. in theology and an M.Div from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2007 and 2001, respectively. Since the fall of 2009, he has been a professor of Christian studies at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., and has coordinated the Christian studies degree program there since 2011.

— Bong Soo Choi as professor of New Testament and Greek and director of the Korean Theological Institute at the NOBTS North Georgia Hub. Choi earned a Ph.D. from Temple University in Philadelphia in 2002; a master of theology from Princeton Theology Seminary in 1992; and both a master of divinity and a master of arts from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1987 and 1988, respectively. Choi has taught as an adjunct teacher at three Southern Baptist seminaries and two other universities. Since 2002, he has been senior pastor of Sugarloaf Korean Baptist Church in Suwanee, Ga., during which time the church increased from 70 to more than 700 in weekly attendance. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at NOBTS, Choi will direct the seminary’s Korean Theological Institute located at the North Georgia Hub.

— Jonggill Lee as assistant professor of expository preaching and director of the Korean doctor of ministry program located at the seminary’s North Georgia Hub. Lee’s educational background includes Ph.D. and master of theology degrees from NOBTS in 2003 and 2003, respectively, and an M.Div. from the Korea Baptist Theological Seminary in 1996. He has been an NOBTS contract professor since 2003. Lee pastored Korean Baptist Church in Sherwood, Ark., from 2003-11. In 2011, Lee planted Logos Mission Baptist Church in Atlanta. Lee will oversee the Korean D.Min. program, which now includes more than 30 students.

— Jody Dean as assistant professor of Christian education. Dean is the first trustee-elected faculty member in NOBTS history to earn, from start to finish, a bachelor’s degree, M.Div., master of theology and Ph.D. from the school. He was an adjunct faculty member at the seminary’s Leavell College from 2010-12 and has been an instructor in Christian education at NOBTS since 2012. Since being licensed to the ministry in 1999, Dean has served in churches in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana.

— Craig Garrett as assistant professor of psychology and counseling. Garrett, who was elected to the faculty in April 2012 as instructor of psychology and counseling, also has served as dean of students and director of student enlistment at NOBTS since June 2008. He anticipates graduating from NOBTS with a Ph.D. in psychology and counseling in December. Garrett also holds a Th.M. from NOBTS, a master of education degree in counseling and development from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in College Station. Garrett’s professional background includes chaplaincy, counseling and secular business experience.

Enrollment report, curriculum changes

NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke reported continued enrollment growth to executive committee members. As of June 3, total enrollment from the certificate to the doctoral level at NOBTS stood at 3,767, up from 3,729 a year ago.

Lemke highlighted total master of divinity and on-campus master of divinity numbers in particular. Total master of divinity students are among the highest levels ever, both on and off the New Orleans campus. In addition, students in the new graduate certificate programs have nearly doubled over last year. Online classes continue to grow in demand as well. Total Internet students have increased nearly 43 percent, from 168 in May 2012 to 240 in June.

Trustees approved several curriculum changes during the meeting, highlighted by new certificates and new master’s-level concentrations. New certificates include graduate certificates in collegiate ministry and in senior adult ministry. In addition, students now will be able to earn a master of arts or master of divinity in Christian education with a concentration in gerontology.

Lemke said the senior adult ministry-focused courses of study are in response to a need expressed by participants of the school’s annual Senior Fest conference. Many people in senior adult ministry, Lemke said, did not begin their ministries as senior adult ministers.

Reflecting the growing demand for certificate study, the executive committee approved four new undergraduate certificate teaching sites (New Orleans; Decatur, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; Fayetteville, Ga.) and one new graduate certificate teaching site (Rainsville, Ala.).

They also approved a new professional doctoral teaching site at Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas. Students there will be able to earn credit for the doctor of ministry and doctor of educational ministry degrees. This is New Orleans Seminary’s first teaching site in Texas, which will be attractive for students from southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
Frank Michael McCormack writes for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Frank Michael McCormack