New dorm for urban ministry named in honor of Nelson Price
NEW ORLEANS (BP)--Longtime Georgia pastor Nelson Price was honored on May 31 in a special ribbon-cutting ceremony opening New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's newest building, the Nelson L. Price Center for Urban Ministries, a 32-room dormitory to be used in housing short-term missionaries to the city of New Orleans.
Price's family and friends were on hand to celebrate the dedication of the new dormitory built in response to an expanding MissionLab ministry, a custom-tailored program matching the needs and abilities of senior adult, student, family and youth ministry groups with appropriate mission opportunities in the New Orleans area.
More than 1,800 youth and 500 senior adults will participate in mission activities this summer and fall, adding to the 2,000-plus youth and 132 seniors who have participated in the program's inaugural years. The building was made possible through the efforts of the Providence Educational Foundation, spearheaded by Clay Corvin, who wanted to ensure enough housing year-round for missionaries to the city.
NOBTS President Chuck Kelley, in opening the ceremony, pointed to the seminary's beginnings in 1917 when there were only five Southern Baptist churches in New Orleans -- only one of which was self-supporting. "The Southern Baptist Convention elected to start a seminary in New Orleans not to serve a large base of Baptists, but to be a lighthouse as well as a schoolhouse.
"With the Nelson L. Price Center for Urban Ministries, we stay true to that original calling," Kelley said. "Alongside our work to train God-called men and women in ministry, we are supporting mission work in our city.
"What better person to name our building than one who has an outstanding record in evangelism and involvement in missions than Dr. Price?" he said.
Price, who earned his bachelor of divinity degree (now the master of divinity) with a major in homiletics in 1956 from the seminary, recently retired as pastor of the nearly 9,500-member Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., where he served for more than 35 years.
Under his leadership, Roswell Street Baptist Church was consistently among the top five churches in Georgia in gifts to the Cooperative Program and was one of the largest church plant sites within the Southern Baptist Convention. At one point the church had the second-largest worship center in the Southeastern United States, seating 4,000 people.
A denominational leader for many years, Price was on NOBTS' board of trustees for 16 years and was vice chairman of the NOBTS presidential search committee that unanimously chose Landrum Leavell II as the seminary's seventh president in 1974. As trustee, he chaired the committee overseeing the building of the annex of the John T. Christian Library on the New Orleans campus.
Price, also an NOBTS Foundation Board member, was instrumental in bringing NOBTS' first off-campus center to the Atlanta area in 1982, when he invited the seminary to hold classes in the education building of Roswell Street Baptist Church.
The extension center, which now has more than 300 students, has since moved to Decatur after members of Columbia Drive Baptist Church voted to give their property to the seminary.
Immediately following the president's comments, Price and his wife, Trudy, cut the white and gold ribbons, opening the way for participants to view the interior of the dormitory and to pray over each room, which has three bunk beds with built-in drawers, double sinks and private showers and bathrooms.
After the prayerwalk, participants were greeted by saxophone music played by Gary Hallquist, assistant professor of worship ministries, in the building's auditorium, which has a seating capacity of 300, a lighted stage, a sound booth, and Internet hookups for worship services to be viewed via live video streaming.
Kelley called Price a "man of excellence and gentility."
"With a high level of graciousness, tremendous charm and a great love of people, at the core of everything that Dr. Price does is evangelism," he said.
Kelley said the new building reflected the seminary's core value of mission focus.
"We are not here merely to get an education or to give one. We are here to change the world by fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandments through the local church and its ministries," he said.
"Bricks and mortar never change anyone's life," the president said. "But people who occupy those buildings do."
In recognition of Price's leadership, the Providence Educational Foundation also has funded an endowed faculty chair in his honor. To be paid in $50,000 annual increments over the next five years, the Nelson L. Price Chair of Leadership is first endowed chair for the seminary's North Georgia Campus. The interest generated from the endowment will pay the salary and other expenses for the director of the seminary's largest extension center.
"We are very grateful how Dr. Price has touched the lives of so many of our students, faculty and staff over the years," said Jerry Pounds, vice president for development. "He has continued to be a solid, supportive voice for the mission of NOBTS."
Pounds added, "This generous gift from the Providence Educational Foundation will allow us to clearly communicate our commitment to the community. It will help us to continue saying, 'We are here to stay, and with God's help, we are here to make a difference.'"
Marc Eichelberger, director of the Providence Learning Center, which operates the MissionLab program, said the MissionLab dormitory also will be available for other events hosted by the PLC, which offers practical certificate programs, hands-on mission experiences, staff retreats, conferences and other lifelong learning opportunities for church and ministry leaders to interact with new ideas and approaches, refine proven principles and think through the tough realities of ministry in a changing world.
For more information about PLC, call 1-800-NOBTS-01, ext. 3260, or visit online at www.providencelearningcenter.com or www.missionlab.com. More information about Price and the Nelson L. Price Center for Urban Ministries can be obtained at www.nelsonprice.com.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: RIBBON CUTTING, CORNERSTONE and PRICES IN ROOM.