FROM THE SEMINARIES: Convocations at SEBTS, SBTS, MTBS

EDITOR'S NOTE: "From the Seminaries" includes news releases of interest from Southern Baptist seminaries.

Today's From the Seminaries includes reports on the convocations at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

SEBTS convocation honors missionary Bertha Smith

By Staff

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (SEBTS) -- The late missionary Bertha Smith, who served nearly 42 years in China and Taiwan, was the focus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin's convocation message Aug. 19 in Binkley Chapel.

Akin, drawing from Galatians 2:20, titled the message, "Bertha Smith: A Soul-Winning Missionary and Woman of Prayer, Revival and the Victorious Christian Life."

Smith, a South Carolina native, went to the mission field in 1917 and retired in 1958. Akin said Smith has been called "the unknown or forgotten successor of Lottie Moon," an earlier missionary to China for whom Southern Baptists' annual offering to support international missions is named.

Akins urged the audience to "live the crucified life" by dying daily to oneself -- to "live by Christ living in us" and to "live a life of faith in Jesus."

As a single woman on the mission field, Smith was an example of someone who had lived a sacrificial life for Jesus with "soul winning first place in her heart," Akin noted.

"Salvation results not only in our identifying with Christ in His death and crucifixion, it also involves our identifying with Him in His life and resurrection," Akin said.

Smith consistently endured opposition, persecution and ridicule while "she stood steadfast in grace, conviction and mercy," Akin said. He recounted that "The Shantung Revival" began in 1927 and Smith was a central part of God's work in the province. The Christian population in the region grew from 5 million at the time of her retirement to between 50 and 70 million when she died.

Akin added that he believes God wants to see revival throughout the world through broken, humble and Spirit-filled followers of Christ.

Akin also called the seminarians to "live in the reality of the atoning love of the Son of God."

"Miss Bertha was utterly mastered by the cross," Akin said. "She never doubted the specific, personal, particular love Christ has for her and the millions of Chinese she longed to see saved. That is why she was a 24/7 walking, talking, breathing soul-winning machine."

Also during chapel, Tony Merida, who holds the Johnny Hunt Chair of Biblical Preaching and associate professor of preaching, was presented with the Faculty Excellence and Teaching Award. Bruce Ashford, Southeastern's provost, said, "We are deeply grateful for all [Merida] has done for God's Kingdom and this seminary."

Regular chapel services are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the semester.

To watch Akin's message on Bertha Smith online, click here.

To view photos from convocation, click here.

Mohler emphasizes centrality of theological education

By RuthAnne Irvin

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) -- Biblical teaching and theological education that promotes it are essential to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in an Aug. 19 convocation address.

Students are called to steward the gift of education in a way that honors God and works for the good of the world, Mohler said, noting that Southern Seminary was established to fulfill and stand for teaching that serves the church – "a calling worth all that we do."

"There is nothing more important than what takes place in the stewardship of this opportunity," Mohler said in introducing his message, "Do You Understand What You Are Reading? - The Christian Faith and the Call to Teach" from Acts 8:26-40.

Mohler emphasized Philip's role as a teacher to the Ethiopian eunuch, who was seeking to understand the identity of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53.

Mohler said Philip did what any evangelist, pastor or Christian, and certainly teachers, should do: He taught the eunuch about Jesus by explaining the text to someone who attempted to read and understand the Scriptures despite being an outcast. After Philip read the passage to him, the eunuch was converted and baptized.

Mohler set forth 10 observations students should remember about the faculty at Southern Seminary as they begin the semester.

First, teachers know things students do not, and they know these things because they want students to understand them.

Second, students need to know what their teachers know.

Third, teachers are fellow learners who have worked hard to teach.

Fourth, he said, "this faculty is ridiculously excited about what they teach. Every last one of them."

Fifth, teachers are not independent contractors -- they abide by the seminary's convictions to the school's doctrinal statements, the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message.

"We do not have the kind of faculty that is reserved in their offices, letting those whose names do not appear in the catalog do all the teaching. They do the teaching themselves," Mohler said. "That's part of the secret and the stewardship of Southern Seminary."

Sixth, teachers do not work for their students; they work for Christ.

Seventh, Mohler reminded students that the teaching is not about them but those who have not yet confessed faith in Jesus.

Eighth, even with new technological advancements, Mohler said, nothing will ever replace the sacred experience that takes place when a student and teacher are in the classroom.

"As Christians we should understand that the incarnation of Christ points to the reason why there is something more than a bonus added when we are physically together," Mohler said.

Ninth, Southern Seminary students will bear the imprint of their teachers for the rest of their lives.

And 10th, when teaching is sound, students will love their teachers as teachers love their students, Mohler said.

Students are to steward the gift of theological education well, Mohler said, because the world is in need.

"We're not out of the world here, we're very much in it. The world is with us, and that's not a bad thing because we are directed to the world," he said. "Our concern is the world, our heart is to the world, so we would not wish to be removed from it. But, we do, amidst much chaos and calamity in the world, have a rare opportunity, an opportunity that others around the world would envy: the stewardship of concentrated learning."

The seminary also installed three academic chairs during the convocation: Peter J. Gentry as the Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation; Joseph R. Crider as the Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of Church Music and Worship; and Adam W. Greenway as the William Walker Brookes Associate Professor of Evangelism and Applied Apologetics.

For audio and video from Mohler's convocation message, click here.

Allen sets forth 'urgency, gravity & necessity' of God's call

Called together for a special purpose, Midwestern Seminary inaugurates new academic year with convocation service

By T. Patrick Hudson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- Inaugurating the new academic year on Aug. 19, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason Allen noted that the formality of the fall convocation stands "as a visible reminder of the consequence and the divine stewardship that is ours."

Allen said the literal meaning of the term "convocation" is to call together or come together for a special purpose -- as such, the intent of the service wa for the seminary community to "dedicate ourselves anew to the church, the Word of God, Baptist distinctives, the Gospel and the Great Commission as a seminary that exists for the church."

In opening his fifth semester as Midwestern's president, Allen preached from Ephesians 4:7-16 on the topic: "Called by God: The Urgency, Gravity, and Necessity of Faithful Gospel Ministry."

The call to ministry is a "specific, distinct, discriminating call," Allen said. "As teachers and students, we have sensed and do sense that call. Churches have affirmed that call and the seminary community seeks to foster, nurture and serve as a context in which that call can flourish."

Allen said the chapel audience to investigate the ultimate questions of a calling to ministry: "Why has God called you to ministry?" "How has God called you to ministry?" and "Unto what ends has God called you to ministry?"

From Ephesians 4, Allen said there should be a profound sense of urgency associated with a ministry calling because of the backdrop of Christ's victory over sin, death and the grave and what that means for the church. It is because of this accomplishment that only Christ has the power to call and empower a minister for work in the ministry.

"He [Jesus] has declared His majesty, authority and victory, and now He is saying to the church, 'Based upon My authority and My victory over death -- My triumph over the full forces of evil -- I give My church these servants and offices,'" Allen said, adding this fact should put everyone's call to ministry on solid footing.

Allen cautioned that there is a propensity to lose sight of this urgency in everyday life and ministry, but he encouraged the students not to do so, saying, "Do not think too localized or temporal about your call to ministry. If you have been called, you are part of a called force. You are an heir and steward of the legacies of Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon and all of the greats we know. Think of your ministry not in a prideful way, but in God's eyes no less consequential or intentionally than these great giants we celebrate."

Allen also noted the gravity of one's call to ministry, pointing out that Christ's secret strategy "for equipping of the saints, for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ" is those called to ministry.

In referencing several factors about his personal call to the ministry, Allen said one factor was, and still is, that he was "afraid not to be in ministry because I understand biblically that my call is not my call. It is God's. I believe with all my heart this was God's plan for my life. Who am I to discard His plan for my life…?I am afraid not to submit to that call, and I pray that you feel something of that same trepidation, given how we see the gravity of the call to ministry pictured here."

Allen next emphasized the necessity of a person's call. He said that, in the humblest sense, the bottom line is that the church needs the offices of pastor, evangelist and teacher. "A church without these offices would be like a ship without a rudder," he said. "The church will be perilously unguarded. It needs these offices for strength, stability, direction and buoyancy."

Allen further noted that the necessary role pastors, evangelists and teachers play within the church is about Gospel unity, developing spiritual maturity and having a ministry marked by Christian charity and love.

Allen concluded his message reminding the audience, "We do not credential you for the ministry; God does. We do not call you into ministry; God does. Make it your ambition to live your ministry and pursue your studies constantly."

Also during the convocation, John Mark Yeats, Midwestern's undergraduate dean, signed the seminary's Articles of Faith. And Allen formally introduced five new faculty members: Jason Duesing as academic provost; Christian George, assistant professor of historical theology and curator of the C.H. Spurgeon Library; Matthew Swain, assistant professor of church music and worship; Sung Jin Park, dean of Korean studies and assistant professor of biblical studies; and Trey Bechtold, instructor of biblical studies and course developer for the Midwestern Seminary Online Program.

To hear Allen's message in its entirety, click here.


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