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WRAP-UP: Seminary gift, income news relayed to SWBTS trustees

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary received news of a $16 million gift to build a chapel as well as news of income from minerals rights during their Oct. 16-17 meeting at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

The trustees also heard plans from the new vice president of student services to increase the seminary’s enrollment; issued a statement about teaching and promoting traditional Southern Baptist views of tongues; and handled business matters relating to the seminary’s foundation.


President Paige Patterson told trustees that the $16 million gift from Fort Worth native and Austin-based businessman Harold E. Riley and his wife Dottie will help build a 3,500-seat chapel on the Fort Worth campus, in one of the largest single gifts from individuals to the seminary in its 98-year history.

“The Riley family believes that Southwestern needs a chapel worthy of its noble traditions. Their gracious gift of $16 million will inspire hundreds of others to make sacrificial gifts also,” Patterson said.

Riley described the new chapel as “a critical need of the seminary that should substantially enhance the seminary’s ability to train and equip the next generation of pastors, missionaries and church workers.”

Mike Hughes, the seminary’s vice president for institutional advancement, said, “The mission of Southwestern Seminary is to train men and women to go into all the world and reach 6.5 billion people with the Gospel message. The new chapel will help the seminary fulfill this goal over the next 100 years.”


Patterson reported to trustees that seminary administrators had signed a contract with Four Sevens Resource Co., LTD. of Fort Worth to drill for gas in the booming Barnett Shale which runs underneath the seminary’s campus. Over the life of the contract, it will potentially bring in millions of dollars to the seminary.

The Barnett Shale is a geological formation of sedimentary rock that lies beneath large areas of north Texas, including Fort Worth and Tarrant County. The shale contains trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. Over the past few years, drilling technology and the market price of natural gas have made drilling and extraction of natural gas in Tarrant County a lucrative endeavor. The location of and open spaces on the seminary’s campus make it a good location to extract natural gas from the underlying shale.

At the Oct. 2 drilling contract signing, Four Sevens Resource Co. was represented by partners Marty Searcy, Jim Holcomb and Nick Steinsberger. The seminary was represented by Greg Kingry, vice president for business administration, and Tim Leitch, director of the physical plant.

During the trustees meeting, Patterson acknowledged the help of seminary trustee and supporter Gary Loveless, president of Square Mile Energy, LLC, of Houston. Loveless guided seminary administrators through the processes of determining the legal status of the mineral rights under the seminary’s land, putting together a drilling solicitation package, soliciting bids for the drilling rights, awarding the bid and drawing up the necessary contracts.

“We are greatly indebted to Gary for all his help,” Patterson said. “We couldn’t have done it without his expertise.”

Trustees directed the seminary administration to present recommendations at their meeting in the spring detailing how best to utilize the royalties from gas drilling on seminary property.


Trustees unanimously elected Thomas White, 33, as vice president for student services, overseeing student admissions, recruitment and retention for the seminary’s campuses in Fort Worth and Houston and seven off-campus centers. He takes over from Rudy González, who is serving as dean of the seminary’s William R. Marshall Center for Theological Studies in San Antonio.

White has been director of The Smith Center for Leadership Development since July 2004. He also teaches systematic theology at the seminary. The South Carolina native holds doctoral and master’s degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and his bachelor’s degree from Anderson (S.C.) University.

In his first report to trustees, White outlined a reorganization of the admissions and recruitment offices into a single-focus office of admissions in order to more strategically contact and enroll new students. He also announced a streamlined application for admission that is available online.

“Our strategy is to create awareness of the seminary, collect and contact prospects, convert prospects into applicants, enhance completion of the application process, facilitate enrollment of applicants and turn students into graduates,” White said.


Trustees elected Edgar G. Cajas, 57, to the faculty of the school of church music as associate professor of church music. The election of Cajas, who is from Guatemala, brings to seven the number of Southwestern faculty whose native language is Spanish. He holds a doctoral degree in music education from the University of Oklahoma, two master’s degrees in music from Southwestern and a bachelor of science degree from La Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Cajas will be joining our faculty in January,” Stephen Johnson, dean of the school of church music, said. “He has done great things to help advance the musical instruction of Guatemala and has done detailed work in the field of music education. We are looking forward to having Dr. Cajas give leadership and direction to our music education department and refine our music and missions concentration.”


In response to an Aug. 29 chapel sermon by trustee Dwight McKissic regarding private prayer languages, the trustees adopted the following statement:

“The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is a school affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for the sole purpose of training men and women to understand the Bible in all its ramifications in order to facilitate the assignment of Christ as provided in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). We wish to remain faithful to the biblical witness and its emphases, taking into careful account the historic positions of Baptists in general and Southern Baptists in particular.

“As it concerns private practices of devotion, these practices, if genuinely private, remain unknown to the general public and are, therefore, beyond the purview of Southwestern Seminary. Southwestern will not knowingly endorse in any way, advertise, or commend the conclusions of the contemporary charismatic movement including ‘private prayer language.’ Neither will Southwestern knowingly employ professors or administrators who promote such practices.

“Southwestern will remain focused on historic New Testament and Baptist doctrine and will lend its energies to the twin tasks of world missions and evangelism. Thus, we intend to sustain these emphases, which were characteristic of our founders, B.H. Carroll, L.R. Scarborough, and George W. Truett.”

Trustee chairman Van McClain of New York said, “I believe the board has addressed the issues of the Aug. 29 chapel by this statement. Dr. Patterson has handled this matter appropriately. There is no need for the board of trustees to make any further statements at this time.”


Patterson turned over some of his report time to Steven Ortiz, Southwestern’s new associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of the Charles C. Tandy Archaeology Museum. Patterson noted that archaeological programs in seminaries around the United States are closing or non-existent, yet Southwestern is committed to providing archaeological studies taught by professors who are evangelical and have stellar academic credentials.

Ortiz, formerly on the faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, described for trustees the work he is helping lead at Tel Gezer in Israel. Findings at Tel Gezer already have provided important evidence substantiating biblical accounts. He described a clay tablet dating to the time of King David and Solomon upon which was inscribed a school boy’s writing exercise, known in archaeological circles as an abecedary.

“It tells us that somebody in that time was practicing reading and writing, and literacy is probably higher during that period than many scholars assumed,” Ortiz said.

“We will have a degree plan in archeology to present soon,” Patterson told the trustees. “Our intent is to find a second evangelical archaeologist and eventually offer Ph.D. work in the program. Only a handful of schools in this country offer doctoral work in archaeology, so for us to step into this void at this time is a tremendous opportunity.”


One of the key elements in the founding of Southwestern Seminary was B.H. Carroll’s vision to make evangelism central to the curriculum. To ensure this, Carroll proposed the “Chair of Fire” for a professor of evangelism to teach evangelism courses. As early as 1906, two years before the seminary opened its doors, Carroll mentioned the “Chair of Fire” in his letters imploring a young Abilene pastor named L.R. Scarborough to be its first occupant. When Scarborough accepted the invitation in 1908, he became the first professor of evangelism in the history of theological education.

In October 1982, seminary trustees renamed the “Chair of Fire” the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (Chair of Fire) and chose Roy Fish to fill it. Fish retired this summer to take the position of interim president of the North American Mission Board.

To fill this vacancy, trustees accepted the recommendation of their academic administration committee and unanimously selected Paige Patterson to occupy the chair.

In a letter recommending Patterson to the board, Executive Vice President and Provost Craig Blaising noted that Patterson is known across the convention for his work in evangelism.

“Practically every week he is in an evangelistic meeting, and over the course of his ministry the Lord has used him to lead thousands to Christ,” Blaising wrote. “Passion for the lost, effectiveness in winning them, and gospel proclamation with theological depth, clarity, and, above all, fidelity to God’s word — all these characterize our president.”

Trustee chairman McClain said, “I know of no one on our faculty who would be a better example to our students of personal evangelism and witnessing.”

In other business:

— Trustees voted to award the seminary’s B.H. Carroll Award to Andy and Joan Horner of Irving, Texas, and Charles L. and Gail Ann Cox of Quitman, Texas. This award is presented each year during the second week in March in conjunction with the seminary’s Founders Day.

The Horners are the founders of Premier Design, a direct service jewelry company based in Irving, Texas. The company serves more than 19,000 independent jewelry distributors across the United States. The Horners have been generous supporters of the seminary’s ministries, among other things, donating significant challenge gifts to assist the Bonn, Germany, extension campus. Joan Horner is one of the founding members of the Southwestern Women’s Auxiliary.

Charles L. Cox served as sales manager at Fellowes Manufacturing Corporation, retiring after 31 years with the company. Fellowes manufactures office furniture and equipment. The Coxes have endowed student scholarships and contributed toward the new chapel, among other contributions. Gail Cox is one of the founding members of the Southwestern Women’s Auxiliary, and the Coxes are active members of the Southwestern Advisory Council.

— Trustees approved a motion to accept the audited financial statements for Southwestern Seminary and a motion to accept the audited financial statements for the Southwestern Seminary Development Foundation, which is the foundation that owns and manages the seminary properties.

— Trustees approved a recommendation from their business administration committee that the governing documents, investment policies and control policies of the Southwestern Seminary Foundation be reviewed by outside counsel for best practices and that a risk assessment be conducted on the foundation’s activities.

The trustees adopted a recommendation that “the Southwestern Seminary Foundation shall make a conscientious effort to steward investments which are consistent with the biblical, moral and ethical standards embraced by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and its parent organization, the Southern Baptist Convention.”

— Vice President for Institutional Advancement Mike Hughes updated trustees about ongoing changes in the offices of institutional advancement. He noted that what was formerly known as the public relations office now will be referred to as the office of communications to more accurately reflect its tasks and goals. Hughes also introduced the trustees to Jon Zellers, the associate vice president for communications.

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