WAKE FOREST (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees heard reports on the seminary’s fifth year of record enrollment, its Kingdom Diversity campaign, and celebrated surpassing its $50 million campaign during their fall meeting. They also honored the seminary’s director of planned giving for 25 years of service.
The seminary’s annual week of events, held Oct. 12-14, included a special chapel service that featured Drew Raynor, pastor of Harvest Church in Cary, N.C. He shared about his experience as a recent Southeastern graduate working to revitalize a church in his community.
In the area surrounding the church, only five percent of the population claims to have a personal relationship with Jesus, Raynor said. “God is continuing to move his church, Gospel and kingdom into places of darkness,” Raynor said during the Oct. 12 chapel service held on the seminary’s Wake Forest campus.
That day marked the launch of Harvest Church, a church plant out of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., led by Tony Merida, the Johnny Hunt chair of Biblical Preaching at Southeastern.
Raynor preached from the book of Acts, noting God sends Christians out full of power and purpose to fulfill the Great Commission.
“God has blazed a trail with Harvest Baptist Church,” Raynor said, noting he has no prior experience pastoring or planting a church. “He is acting in spite of me not because of me.”
On Oct. 13, the Board of Trustees (BOT) and Southeastern Society — formerly called Board of Visitors — met for the presidential address and reports. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern, recognized recent accomplishments of the seminary including its fifth year of record enrollment at 3,220 students.
“God is bringing more students here than ever before,” Akin said. “I see a younger generation that has a lot of courage and passion. It is a wonderful time to be a part of something that is making a difference for eternity.”
Akin continues to lead the seminary in its Kingdom Diversity initiative. “We have a deep passion to train ministers and reflect what our church will look like in heaven,” he said. “There are no subdivisions in heaven. We are all calling on the same Father and indwelt by the same Holy Spirit!”
That evening a banquet was held to celebrate Southeastern surpassing its $50 million campaign goal earlier this year and to honor George Harvey, director of planned giving and general counsel, for 25 years of service to the seminary. Bart Neal, retired vice president for institutional advancement and former interim president at Southeastern, helped launch the campaign in 2002 and opened the banquet in prayer.
Harvey joined Southeastern in June 1989 during difficult financial times as the seminary was undergoing a significant transition.
“The Lord has accomplished many significant things through your faithfulness in the past 10 years,” Akin told Harvey as he addressed the filled banquet room. “It is easy to talk about what the campaign does in dollars and cents, but it is the relationships that God has allowed us to build over these years that have knit us together as family.”
Akin said the campaign was successful in the midst of two of the greatest economic downturns in America since the Great Depression. “Even though the campaign was launched in economic turmoil, God was faithful,” Akin said.
“We need the gifts of brothers and sisters like you to help us do what we are doing here for the glory of God,” Akin explained. “It blesses me to no end to see the many ways God is using our graduates for the glory of God.”
Akin mentioned graduates serving in the public square, helping young mothers to choose life for their unborn children and writing legislation to protect freedom and religious liberty. Akin recognized Harvey for the role he has played in helping the seminary impact lives.
After a unanimous vote of the Board earlier in the day, Todd Linn, chairman of the trustees, and Akin presented a resolution to Harvey.
The resolution honored and celebrated Harvey, who left a career in law to come to Southeastern. A scholarship fund of $100,000 also has been named in honor of Harvey and his wife Anne.
“We cannot help but say thank you to George Harvey for being a faithful servant,” Akin said.
Ryan Hutchinson, executive vice president for operations, said, “No one on campus has more of a servant spirit as Harvey serves our students and others.”
In addition, during their fall meeting Southeastern’s trustees:
— were introduced to new faculty members: Adrianne Miles, assistant professor of English and linguistics; and Chip Hardy, assistant professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages.
— approved the Board of Visitors changing its name to “Southeastern Society.”
— approved a new military rate currently equivalent to the Southern Baptist Convention rate structure for those that are serving and have served with an honorable discharge in the armed forces of the United States.
— were introduced to new board members Rick Butterworth and Earle Finley.