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TRUSTEES: SEBTS reports gains in minority enrollment

[SLIDESHOW=44847,44845]WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted the biannual meetings of the board of trustees and Southeastern Society April 16-18 at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

President Danny Akin, reviewing key accomplishments at the seminary, noted to the trustees and Southeastern Society donor supporters that enrollment has increased to 3,580 students. Minority enrollment has grown from 10 percent to 16 percent in the past five years, Akin said, with the Hispanic student population having tripled and African American population doubled.

Southeastern also has more than 200 students now serving overseas, Akin reported.

During their business sessions, trustees:

— approved an overall budget increase of 3.15 percent, from $26.5 million to $27.3 million for 2017-2018.

— elected two faculty members: Chip Hardy as assistant professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages and John Burkett as assistant professor of rhetoric and composition.

— promoted Greg Welty to professor of philosophy and Ken Coley to senior professor of Christian education.

— approved the creation of the Katy Hardy Memorial Scholarship Fund honoring the life of Chip Hardy’s wife who recently passed away from cancer.

— approved several curriculum revisions and course creations for both SEBTS and The College at Southeastern.

— heard a report on a proposed capital campaign with an anticipated launch in the 2018 fiscal year.

Trustees re-elected their officers for the coming year: chairman Marty Jacumin, vice chairman Jeremy Freeman, treasurer Charles Cranford and secretary Becky Gardner.

Also during the week, the seminary announced it will restructure three of its leadership positions beginning June 1 in order to strengthen its spiritual formation and emphasis on prayer.

Chuck Lawless will be named vice president for spiritual formation and ministry centers as well as dean of doctoral studies. Lawless previously oversaw both master’s- and doctoral-level academic programs. With this new role he will implement a focus of prayer and spiritual formation for equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. Lawless, who has taught at SEBTS since 2013, also serves as professor of evangelism and missions.

Keith Whitfield will assume the role of dean of graduate studies for masters-level programs, along with continuing in his current position as vice president for academic administration. Whitfield, who has taught at seminary since 2012, also serves as assistant professor of theology.

John Ewart will now oversee the seminary’s three ministry centers — the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies, the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and the Southeastern Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching. Ewart, has taught at SEBTS since 2007, also serves as associate professor of missions and pastoral leadership and associate vice president of global theological initiatives.

Akin described both Lawless and Whitfield as “capable and proven leaders, and I have complete confidence in them as they lead our graduate and advanced degree programs,” Akin said. “Likewise, I am thrilled that John Ewart will be leading our ministry centers in overall vision and implementation.”

It is “vitally important for our future health that we emphasize spiritual formation and prayer in a greater way,” Akin said. “I delight in the fact that we are known as a Great Commission seminary. By God’s grace may we also become known as a praying seminary.”

Southeastern Society

SES members heard from Jim Shaddix, professor of preaching at the seminary, who spoke on 1 Peter 1:3-5. During difficult times, followers of Jesus hold on to the hope found in the Gospel of Christ, Shaddix said, noting, “Hope in the Bible is a certainty. It’s a done deal.”

Faculty and staff of SEBTS led discussion forums for the society, including Tony Merida, associate professor of preaching at the seminary and pastor of preaching and vision at Imago Dei in Raleigh, and Matt Foshee, SEBTS admissions campus host. Merida spoke on the value of the Great Commission and Foshee explained his future long-term ministry in Ogden, Utah, beginning this August.

“[Finding] the location has all been Matt and his team,” Merida said, “but we’re behind it and we’re excited about it.”

Greg Mathias, assistant professor of global studies, and Clint Barefoot, a 2+ student who served in South Asia, also led a discussion forum regarding church planting among the unreached.

“The message [of the Gospel] will be the same, but the look will be different,” Mathias said.

Speaking in chapel, J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, encouraged trustees and SES members, students and faculty to have a healthy fear of God’s power and goodness in the midst of life’s storms as he preached through Mark 4. “True worship,” Greear said, “is mixed with intimacy.”

Southeastern Society members give at least $1,000 to SEBTS each year and partner with the seminary to help train students in living out the Great Commission wherever they go. For more information about SES, go to www.sebts.edu/ses.

The next trustee and SES meetings will be Oct. 15-17.

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  • Lauren Pratt