TRUSTEES: Jerry Johnson joins MBTS; Fred Winters to be honored as Alumnus of the Year

by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, posted Wednesday, March 11, 2009 (5 years ago)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)--Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved the selection of former college president Jerry Johnson as vice president of academic development during their March 9 meeting in Kansas City, Mo.

One day after the death of alumnus Fred Winters, who was killed while preaching at his Maryville, Ill., church, Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts told a joint gathering of trustees and the seminary's advisory board of regents, "Fred Winters' ministry didn't end; it was validated."

Sharing several theological lessons from Winters' martyrdom, Roberts said, "He was faithful to the end. Even under the threat of death he stood firm and courageous," noting that Winters had sought to help the man who ultimately took his life.

Roberts announced that Midwestern's alumni officers would honor Winters posthumously as Alumnus of the Year at the June 24 seminary luncheon in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Louisville, Ky. Winters had served as a national president of Midwestern's alumni and as an adjunct professor.

Johnson, in addition to his election as professor of ethics and theology, was named chief academic officer to succeed Thorvald Madsen who becomes dean of Midwestern Baptist College, SBC. Madsen also was re-elected as associate professor of New Testament, ethics and philosophy. The college's former dean, David McAlpin, became vice president for student development late last year.

Johnson, 44, joins Midwestern after serving nearly five years as president of Criswell College in Dallas where he also taught theology and ethics and hosted a daily syndicated radio program on ethics and public policy. He earlier served as dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's undergraduate Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., and also taught Christian ethics and worked in development while working toward a Ph.D. from the seminary with a specialization in Christian ethics. He also holds an M.A. from Denver Seminary and a B.A. from Criswell College.

Johnson also served on Southern Seminary's board of trustees from 1989-98, the last two years as chairman.

He contributed the chapter on religious liberty in a book outlining The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. His studies in biblical ethics have provided a platform to address the Evangelical Theological Society, the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity and other organizations.

Johnson's early pastoral experience was in Texas, serving Ireland Baptist Church and interning at First Baptist Dallas, then moving to Colorado to pastor Central Baptist Church in Aurora and Cornerstone Baptist in Littleton. He and his wife Rhonda have two children, Isaiah and Eva.

Trustees also elected to the faculty Rustin J. Umstattd as assistant professor of theology. In addition to earning his Ph.D. in systematic theology and M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Umstattd received an M.B.A. from Georgia Southern University and B.A. from Georgia Southwestern College. He taught adjunctively at Southwestern and served as minister of education and students at Matthew Road Baptist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. He and his wife Leslie have two daughters, Ashtin and Jordan.

Other faculty re-elections include James Anderson as professor of biblical studies; Robin D. Hadaway, associate professor of missions; Rodney A. Harrison, assistant professor of Christian education, and David J. Richards, assistant professor of Christian education. The reappointment of Charles E. Warren as associate professor of theology also was affirmed in the trustees' academic development committee.

After listening to committee members question prospective faculty regarding their theological convictions, trustee chairman Michael Landry of Sarasota, Fl., told the board, "We have a faculty that is very committed to the truth." Pointing to his Bible, he said, "In every case you're going to find a professor who says unapologetically, 'This is the Word of God.'"

Landry added, "We're an institution that is trying its dead level best to insure we are training men and women not to believe in some kind of fantasy but to make sure they understand the substance of their faith."

Clarifying the goal of preparing ministers, the seminary's mission statement was modified to read, "Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary serves the church by biblically educating God-called men and women to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ."

The board approved the 2009-10 budget of $7,602,888, up 4.3 percent over the current year. Revenue is projected to increase due to a number of changes approved by the board, including a $15 per credit hour tuition increase for undergraduate courses and $10 per credit hour increase for graduate courses. Minor increases were made to audit and registration fees and housing rental rates.

Increases for doctoral tuition and fees for Southern Baptist students range from $180 to $420 with no change for non-SBC students who currently pay a higher rate. The new tuition and fees for doctoral students will be set at $5,690 for coursework toward the D.Min. program, $7,980 for the D.Ed.Min. and $10,980 for the Ph.D.

Trustees also approved an investment strategy that transfers $2 million from the proceeds of land sales to the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma and places $4 million in various short-term certificates of deposit and government-administered investment pools, maintaining a three-month budget reserve.

Trustees re-elected Landry to a second term as chairman, James Freeman of Kansas City as first vice chairman and Judy Crain of Trapp, Md., as secretary. Wayne Lee of Southlake, Texas, as elected as second vice chairman. Kevin Shrum of Madison, Tenn., was named to serve as member at large on the trustees' executive committee.

After the board honored outgoing trustee Wayne Parker of Garden City, Mich., for his 10-year tenure, he told trustees, "A lot's happened in 10 years in the life of this institution and I'm just thrilled to see what God has done."

Noting the Midwest roots of MBTS President Roberts as a native of Ohio, Parker said, "One of the things that excites me about this institution is its pioneering spirit -- that willingness to be on mission wherever God would have us to be. It's a rare quality among our seminaries."


Tammi Reed Ledbetter is news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN.