LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has named three young scholars to key academic leadership positions. SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. made the announcement at a plenary session of the trustees’ spring meeting on Monday (April 15).
Matthew J. Hall is the new provost and senior vice president for academic administration, Paul Akin is the new dean of the Billy Graham School for Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, and Dustin Bruce is the new dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary. See related story.
The board also approved a budget for the 2019-2020 academic year, elected and promoted faculty members, and honored trustees who are ending their terms on the board.
These three new appointments, Mohler noted, are part of a strategic move for the future of the school. The fact that each new administrator is in his 30s is no coincidence, he said.
“It is a strategic move to appoint senior academic leaders who are a generation behind the president and others of my generation,” he said during his report to trustees. “It’s a statement of confidence in that generation and a statement of confidence in the institution.”
Mohler added: “Southern Seminary is determined to lead the world of theological education, as is this school’s heritage, and these young leaders will amplify that legacy of leadership.”
During the session, Mohler stressed the importance of training the next generation of Christian pastors and leaders for the challenges ahead of them. The secular world is changing faster than ever before, and the church stands at one of the “hinge moments” of history. While Christianity was once one of the dominant culture-shaping influences, Mohler said, that is changing quickly. Since the church is about to be passed down to the next generation, it is the responsibility of the current generation to make sure they are prepared for what is ahead.
“There’s never been a more dramatic opportunity, I think, to look to young people and recognize that we really are going to be turning this church over to them soon,” Mohler said. “We’ve got to prepare young pastors to go into a world in which they are going to be considered the enemies of human good and human happiness.
“If they’re going to die for something, let it be for truth. If they’re going to let ‘goods and kindred go,’ it better be for the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ and the full measure of Christian devotion.”
Preparing for that kind of calling, seminary “students will need more Bible, not less,” Mohler said.
In his report, Mohler also affirmed the seminary’s commitment to residential theological education, highlighting that Southern Seminary maintains one of the largest on-campus enrollments out of all ATS-accredited schools. He further pledged the school’s commitment to making theological education accessible through its online programs. The budget that trustees went on to approve allocates more than $200,000 to develop new online courses at pace-setting quality.
In addition, the board voted to elect three faculty members: Matthew J. Hall as assistant professor of church history, Ayman S. Ibrahim as Bill and Connie Jenkins Professor of Islamic Studies, and John Klaassen as associate professor of global studies. Additionally, the board promoted Michael S. Wilder to professor of Christian leadership and Matthew J. Hall to associate professor of church history.
In other news:
— The trustees approved an operating budget of $53,427,968 for the 2019-2020 academic year. This represents a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year.
— The board voted to grant sabbatical leaves to professors, Jonathan T. Pennington, Gregg R. Allison, Jonathan W. Arnold, Peter J. Gentry, Daniel M. Gurtner, Timothy Paul Jones and Jarvis Williams.
— The board adopted four “resolutions of appreciation” in honor of board members whose service is ending following this meeting — David Hankins, recently retired executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention; John Manry, senior pastor of North Harford Baptist Church in Jarrettsville, Md.; David Shepherd, retired senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of St. Charles, Mo; and Chad Wilson, president of Foundation Bank in Jackson, Tenn.
— Trustees re-elected the board officers originally elected during the 2018 spring trustee meeting.
The next meeting of the board of trustees will take place Oct. 14-15, 2019.