Awards, accolades highlight alumni luncheons
BALTIMORE (BP) -- Alumni awards, accolades for current presidents and reports of significant progress in seminary education highlighted June 11 luncheons for alumni and friends of Southern Baptist seminaries at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Baltimore.
New Orleans Baptist Seminary President Chuck Kelley honored three alumni with the distinguished alumni award at the seminary's luncheon.
During the luncheon, Kelley also announced the receipt in Baltimore of another gift of $1.5 million from the donor for the Caskey Center for Church Excellence.
Jeanine Bozeman, NOBTS senior professor of social work, was one of the three alumna honored at the luncheon. She has taught there since 1985.
"You're looking at the only woman who has ever served as a chair of one of the faculty divisions in the history of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary," Kelley said. "She was the chair of the Division of Christian Education and Ministries [from 1997 to 2003]."
In accepting the award, Bozeman recognized her late husband T. Welby Bozeman, who taught New Testament and psychology of religion at Louisiana College.
"I am of course very honored to get this award, but you know what, I really think it would be more appropriate if it read 'T. Welby Bozeman,'" she said. "My deceased husband was the wind under my sails, always confirming, always encouraging."
Kelley said he and Bozeman are "working on a dream together" to establish an accredited master of social work program at NOBTS.
Bozeman received from NOBTS a Master of Religious Education degree in 1969, a Doctor of Education in 1984 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1999.
Honoree Tommy Green has served 18 years as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., which has partnered with the North American Mission Board to plant New Orleans area churches. Green has served as president of the Florida Baptist Convention, and has taught at the seminary's extension center which meets at his church in Brandon, and has pastored churches in Alabama and Georgia. He and his wife Karen have three sons.
Green first knew Kelley as a professor, studying under him while earning a Master of Divinity in 1983 and a Doctor of Theology in 1989.
The biggest joy of teaching, Kelley said, is to see the "light bulb come on" as students grasp a concept and to see students succeed in ministry.
"I've had the joy of watching both of those moments in Tommy's life," Kelley said.
Green called on people to partner with him and First Baptist Church of Brandon in planting churches in New Orleans.
Honoree John Killian, an adjunct professor at the NOBTS extension center in Birmingham, Ala., is active in the Alabama Baptist State Convention, serving on the board of regents for University of Mobile and the board of governors for Judson College. He was elected president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention in 2012.
Killian has pastored Maytown Baptist Church in Maytown, Ala. since 1998. He received the Master of Divinity from NOBTS in 1997 and the Doctor of Ministry in 2005.
Kelley extolled Killian for his service.
"If you're an Alabama Baptist, you know John Killian," Kelley said. Killian, in accepting the award, said he's proud to be identified with NOBTS.
"New Orleans Seminary is the most balanced seminary in Southern Baptist life," he said. "And if my name can be attached to New Orleans Seminary, it's the honor of a lifetime."
Killian and his wife Jeanie have a son and daughter.
Also during the luncheon, Kelley reported to the alumni that the Walmart near the seminary is nearing completion, with a fall 2014 opening in sight. Other luncheon highlights include the opening of the Doris Kelley Showers of Blessing Resource Center, the Leake Magee Christian Counseling Center and the launch of the Caskey Center.
Kelley briefed alumni on a graduation held at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss.
"I want to tell you where you'll find Jesus," Kelley said. "You will find him at the intersection of the lost and the least."
About 325 alumni and friends attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's luncheon in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, featuring a panel discussion on the church's engagement of culture in the 21st century and Christians' role as "sent people of God."
Southeastern President Danny Akin joined the panel with Bruce Ashford, Southeastern provost, dean of faculty and associate professor of theology and culture; Nathan Finn, Southeastern associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies; Trillia Newbell, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's consultant for women's initiatives, and Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Moderator Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, posed the question, "How do we live out the unchanging call?"
In response, Akin focused on the need for expository preaching to deliver the Word of God. Rainer highlighted the millennial population as the largest mission field ever in America as "80 to 85 percent of this generation is not Christian." However, Rainer said he believes this population is open to the truth of the Gospel.
Ashford called believers to "be faithful to the Scriptures and to do the hard work of doing so meaningfully. Proclaim Him with our lips and promote Him with our lives."
Akin gave a brief update on the seminary in the past year as he celebrated 10 years as president of Southeastern in early 2014.
"We are all over Africa, Southeast Asia and South America," Akin said. "It is exciting to see all that God is allowing us to be a part of at this particular time in history."
"We are not ashamed of what we believe, but we want to make sure we speak the truth in love," Akin said. "When we do that we are modeling the life of the Lord Jesus and we can be sure that God is pleased."
J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Durham, N.C. and president of the SEBTS alumni association, pledged $500,000 from the church over the next five years in financial support to Southeastern.
Greear believes that Southeastern effectively reaches the nations through training effective pastors, preachers, scholars and evangelists. Seminaries, Greear said, can do things the local church independently cannot do as well.
David Whitlock, president of Oklahoma Baptist University, and Stan Norman, OBU provost, presented Akin the university's Herschel H. Hobbs Award for Distinguished Denominational Service.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. noted during the school's June 11 luncheon the significant impact alumni are having as leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"Here's the great joy: we get to reflect on how Southern Seminary, by God's grace and to God's glory, has made a contribution to all these many lives, to so many churches, reaching so many distant points on the globe in terms of the mission field," Mohler, who just completed his 21st academic year as president, said.
Illustrating his point, Mohler listed notable alumni leading SBC institutions and entities, namely Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources; Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board; Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, and Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also noted alumnus Jerry Johnson, who recently became president of the National Religious Broadcasters.
Another notable alumnus at the luncheon, Capitol Hill Baptist Church pastor Mark Dever, was announced as the 2014 Alumnus of the Year. Mohler presented Dever with a certificate and an early printing of the works of English Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes, the subject of Dever's Cambridge University doctoral dissertation.
"Mark Dever is one of the greatest gifts of God to me, and to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ," Mohler said. "When we talk about [church] revitalization, there's a portrait of exactly what we hope and pray for at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He models what it is to be a pastor-theologian; he models what it is to demonstrate the influence of a pastor on other pastors."
During his presentation to alumni, Mohler provided an update on the renovation to the Mullins Complex, which will provide student housing and faculty offices for Boyce College. He reflected on the retirement of historical theology professor Tom Nettles and the death of campus physician William Cutrer.
Demonstrating a commitment to facing the challenge of Islam, Mohler also announced the employment of J. Scott Bridger as director of Southern's Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam.
The luncheon featured testimonies from Boyce College graduates Blake and Abigail Rogers, who are now Southern staff members. He serves as the associate director of recruiting at Boyce and the head basketball coach for the men's basketball team; she is now a manager at Legacy Hotel and Conferences. The couple attested to the influence of Southern Seminary and Boyce faculty. Blake is also a student minister at First Baptist Church Fisherville, Ky., where Boyce College theology professor Brian K. Payne is senior pastor.
Remarking on Boyce College's redesign of its website, logo and team mascot, Mohler noted the new Bulldog is "just as biblical, but he looks slightly more menacing." Mohler credited Rogers' success as men's basketball coach for validating the new look.
As he thanked alumni for attending the luncheon, Mohler reminded pastors and leaders of the purpose of theological education.
"Let us keep ever in mind that what we're about is not merely an institution, nor even an earthly understanding of our impact through this school," Mohler said, "but rather the eternal consequences of the message that is our stewardship to teach and preach."
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Paige Patterson honored Daniel L. Akin and U.S. Rep. James Lankford with distinguished alumni awards during Southwestern's luncheon.
"As you know, the distinguished alumnus award … goes to someone who has distinguished himself in the service of the Lord," Patterson said.
Akin has served 10 years as president of Southeastern Seminary and previously taught at Southeastern, Criswell College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served as dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration.
A well-respected author, Akin edited "A Theology for the Church" wrote book "God on Sex," and wrote the New American Commentary volume on the three epistles of John.
Akin said he was honored to receive the award and thankful for Patterson, who has been a spiritual father to him. Southeastern is thankful for a sister seminary like Southwestern, Akin said, and that he prays for Southwestern regularly.
"Only heaven will reveal all the good that has come through this school and what is yet to come," Akin said.
Republican Lankford has represented Oklahoma's Fifth District since 2010 and will run for the special U.S. Senate election in November to replace Sen. Tom Coburn, who will not seek re-election.
After earning his bachelor's degree in secondary education at the University of Texas at Austin, Lankford received his Master of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary in 1994. From 1996 to 2009, Lankford served as the student ministries and evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and director of Falls Creek Youth Camp.
"The missions training that I got was some of the most intimidating training that I've had in my life," Lankford said, recalling his first semester at Southwestern. Faithful professors, he said, discipled him and equipped him for ministry.
As a congressman, Lankford said the Lord has given him the privilege to prayer walk through the halls of Congress and to lead another congressman and a lobbyist to Christ.
"There are ministry opportunities as well as legislative opportunities here [in Washington, D.C.]," Lankford said. "I challenge people over and over again not to be afraid to follow God where He sends them because even in Washington, D.C … I still see God sending people into the battle rather than taking them out of it."
In other business at the luncheon, Mark Stinson, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Cambridge, Ohio, was elected alumni president and Mark Anderson, pastor of Lynwood Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau, Mo., was elected vice president.
Based on reports from Frank Michael McCormack of New Orleans Seminary, Ali Dixon of Southeastern Seminary, S. Craig Sanders of Southern Seminary and Keith Collier of Southwestern Seminary. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).