Golden Gate Seminary’s Commencement at San Quentin
by Phyllis Evans
Songs, prayers, and tears marked the Golden Gate Seminary commencement ceremony. However, at this ceremony, graduates wore caps and gowns over their prison garb and the service was held at San Quentin State Prison in California.
On June 28, five graduates received a Diploma in Christian Ministries and two received a Diploma in Theology from the seminary's Contextualized Leadership Development Program (CLD).
The 136 inmates in the program at San Quentin are taught by seminary students and alumni on a volunteer basis. The program takes two to three years to complete and instruction includes eight classes that range from church planting to evangelism to ministry training.
James Cavitt, one of the Diploma in Christian Ministries graduates who was invited to speak during commencement, shared how he had given up on God when he was a young boy. "For me to be here today, to call Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, is surely a miracle of God," he said. The thirty-five-year-old has been in prison since he was seventeen, and with tears running down his cheeks, he thanked the teachers for their faithfulness, encouragement, and support.
At the conclusion of the commencement ceremony, seminary president Jeff Iorg asked the graduates, "Why do you do this? Why do you attend Golden Gate's CLD program and train yourselves for ministry?" He looked at each graduate as he answered the rhetorical question: "It's about other people and sharing the Gospel freely and openly with everyone."
SBTS Press Publishes Evangelism Guide
by BP staff
SBTS Press, a division of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has released a new book, A Guide to Evangelism. The fourth volume in SBTS Press' guide book series debuted at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention in Houston.
According to a news release from the seminary: "The apostle Peter instructs Christians to be ready to give a defense for their hope (1 Peter 3:15), and today's cultural and religious landscape requires Christians to be ready to interact with a myriad of world views. A Guide to Evangelism prepares Christians for such a defense and interactions."
In his introduction, editor Dan DeWitt writes that he hopes the book not only serves Christians as a resource for fruitful evangelism, but also to "cultivate [the] craving" for spreading the Gospel.
In addition to DeWitt, dean of Southern Seminary's Boyce College, contributors to the book include Boyce professors and staff Chad Brand, Brian Payne, Denny Burk, Jim Stitzinger, Troy Temple, Owen Strachan, Travis Kerns, and John Klaassen.
The book is divided into two sections: "For the Church" and "For the Christian." The two sections include nine essays.
A Guide to Evangelism is available from press.sbts.edu, Amazon.com, and Southern's Lifeway Campus Store. More information about the book and SBTS Press—including the first, second, and third volumes in the guide book series—is available at press.sbts.edu.
Midwestern Seminary Launches the Midwestern Women's Institute
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced the launch of the Midwestern Women's Institute, a program created to prepare women with biblical training, encouraging fellowship, and practical training as they faithfully serve their families and their churches in fulfillment of the Great Commission.
"Each student should have a two-fold expectation," said Karen Allen, wife of President Jason K. Allen and director of MWI. "The first expectation is to build lasting ministry friendships."
Students will experience classes each week that begin with times of fellowship, the sharing of prayer requests, and a special talk from a seminary guest.
The second expectation students of the program should have will come from the classes, said Karen Allen.
"Although each class will vary to some degree, the students will find them all informative, challenging, encouraging, and also very practical. My desire is that when women finish the program they will be both excited and prepared to serve alongside their husbands in their local church in ministry.
"This is a program with one objective— to train and prepare women for the Church," she said.
Each semester will be two terms of six-week classes. This semester began with the required courses Personal Spiritual Disciplines and Surveys of the Old and New Testament. Midwestern Women's Institute has three tracks of nine-, twelve-, and fifteen-hour ministry certificate programs. For more information, visit www.mbts.edu/mwi.
NOBTS Receives "Providential Gift"
by Frank Michael McCormack
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.
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: for technology upgrades in Bunyan Building and Hardin Student Center classrooms; for the construction of an on-campus community center to house the seminary's homeschool program; to create the position of professor of church and community ministry in NOBTS's newly-formed Church and Community Ministries Division; and to contribute to entry/exit adjustments made necessary by the construction of a new Walmart in the area.
"Truly this is a providential gift. It addresses crucial missional and functional needs of the seminary," Kelley said.
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.
SEBTS to Launch Spurgeon Center
Preaching God's Word and leading healthy churches are the focus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Charles H. Spurgeon Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching, set to launch this fall.
Charles "Chuck" Lawless, dean of graduate studies and professor of evangelism and missions, will direct the Spurgeon Center.
"I envision the center promoting practical leadership training for local church pastors," Lawless said. "We want to help church planters as well as pastors who are working to revitalize a church."
In addition to promoting healthy church growth and church revitalization, the center plans to encourage and resource church planters. It will seek to build strategic partnerships with other SBC entities, such as LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board, that also work with pastoral leaders.
"I am excited about the blessing this center will be to the churches," said Daniel Akin, president. "We will attempt to serve pastors in fulfilling this noble work given to them by King Jesus."
A primary goal of the center is to help churches become Great Commission churches. Lawless said, "We're partnering with local churches to make them more effective in areas such as leadership so that the Gospel can penetrate local communities and ultimately extend to all nations."
This story was first published by the Biblical Recorder, newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
SWBTS Facilitates Global Network
by Benjamin Hawkins
An international gathering of church leaders and educators met at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, August 6–10, to build partnerships they hope will enrich theological education among Baptists around the world.
There exists a "rising global need for theological education to be enhanced," missiologist Keith Eitel said during this summit, which was organized by Southwestern’s Global Theological Innovation (GTI) program. This first GTI summit drew together nearly sixty leaders from such diverse Spanish-speaking nations as Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Honduras, Uruguay, Guatemala, Columbia, Venezuela, and Cuba. Southwestern Seminary faculty and guest speakers, including SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, spoke during the four-day meeting.
"There is now a critical need and appeal for our Southern Baptist churches, mission agencies, and seminaries to join Baptists worldwide in reaching, teaching, and equipping the next generation of Baptist leaders," Brent Ray, associate director of Southwestern's GTI program, said.
For this reason, Southwestern is facilitating a global network of theological schools and seminaries. These schools will work to develop standards of theological education appropriate both for their own contexts as well as for laying a foundation for global cooperation. Leaders from Spanish-speaking nations were able to confer about such standards during the GTI summit.
While this first GTI summit involved educational leaders from Spanish-speaking nations, Ray said that Southwestern is "committed to the development of similar alliances and networks among like-minded Baptist institutions throughout Asia, Africa and, Europe."
GuideStone Announces Three New Funds
by Shelly Moon
GuideStone Funds has announced the addition of three new funds to its lineup: the Real Assets Fund, Flexible Income Fund, and Global Natural Resources Equity Fund.
"Once again, GuideStone is expanding our fund selection in order to enhance the choices available to our participants," said John R. Jones, chief operating officer of GuideStone Financial Resources and president of GuideStone Funds.
Real Assets Fund: The Real Assets Fund, which is available for direct investment, is intended to serve GuideStone participants by offering an investment that seeks long-term capital appreciation and income consistent with protection from inflation.
Flexible Income Fund: The Flexible Income Fund is not available for direct investment, and is intended to serve GuideStone participants by offering an investment that seeks a high level of current income.
Global Natural Resources Equity Fund: The Global Natural Resources Equity Fund, also not available for direct investment, is intended to serve GuideStone investors by offering an investment that seeks long-term capital appreciation.
More information about these funds can be accessed at www.GuideStoneFunds.org.