Seminaries convey highlights to alumni & friends
COLUMBUS (BP) -- Alumni awards, reflections on missions and U.S. culture and reports of progress in seminary education highlighted June 17 during luncheons for alumni and friends of Southern Baptist seminaries at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.
More than 100 alumni and friends gathered June 17 at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary's annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon in conjunction with the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention.
Golden Gate President Jeff Iorg recognized Keith Harris Williams and Terry Dorsett with Outstanding Alumni awards.
"We choose alumni who have distinguished themselves and represent something of what we hope students will be and what they may become," Iorg said.
Williams, who retired in 2014 after 34 years of missionary service with the International Mission Board, said he saw the light of Christ through professors and fellow students at Golden Gate.
"Golden Gate was the perfect place to prepare for international missions," Williams said. "Being involved in the lives of people very different from me and realizing the diversity and multi-ethnic richness of the San Francisco Bay area were ideal training for what was to come."
Williams holds a master of divinity degree from Golden Gate, along with a doctor of ministry in Christian counseling from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a master of arts in family psychology from Hardin-Simmons University and an undergraduate degree from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo.
He served as a pastor and campus minister in Missouri and California before entering missionary service. He planted churches in the Philippines for about 15 years and served as a missionary care consultant in Asia and the Pacific for 19 years.
Williams and his wife Suzanne have two daughters, Tara and Brittany, and four grandchildren.
Terry Dorsett, executive director of the New England Baptist Convention, told attendees that he enrolled at Golden Gate when he was serving as director of missions for an association of 37 churches. At the time, he had no idea that he later would serve a convention of 337 churches.
"God used my education at Golden Gate to prepare me for the future He had in mind," Dorsett said. "In my new role I am often able to interact with pastors. I try to encourage them to remain faithful in what is often a difficult ministry. I also try to remind them that God is always at work, even when things do not work out the way we planned. That does not mean that we should not plan things out well; it just means that all our human planning must be subject to the Holy Spirit's guidance."
Dorsett earned a doctor of ministry from Golden Gate in 2009 and was the recipient of the Seminary's William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award. He also holds master of religious education and undergraduate degrees from Liberty University.
Dorsett served as a children's minister, minister of education, pastor and director of missions in Virginia, South Carolina and Vermont. He also was a church planting catalyst in Connecticut for the North American Mission Board.
Dorsett assumed responsibilities as executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England in April. He and his wife Kay have three children -- Jonas, Taylor and Katie -- and one grandchild.
An encouraging president's report and a presentation titled "Through the Eyes of Spurgeon" highlighted Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Alumni & Friends luncheon June 17 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Seminary President Jason Allen noted, "The story of Midwestern Seminary over the past two-and-a-half years is one where God's people on campus have come together and sought in each incremental way to strengthen the work of the seminary.
"As we've done that, by God's grace, we find ourselves ... with a seminary that is showing remarkable strength and robust growth. We are hitting a stride perhaps as never before."
Allen told of a recent report by the seminary's accreditor, the Association of Theological Schools, which ranked Midwestern as the fastest growing seminary in North America among schools enrolling at least 500 students.
Allen noted "explosive" growth in the seminary's doctoral program, much of which is attributed to changing its Ph.D. offerings into a modular format.
Allen also noted the seminary's introduction of OnlineYou, a customized online education program for students with a particular sense of calling.
Assignments are "hardwired into the local church ministry" and "customized to that man or woman -- and their sense of calling -- to help them be more specifically prepared for the ministry God is calling them to," Allen said.
Nearly $3 million in construction projects is wrapping up this summer, Allen said. In addition to a renovation of Midwestern's administrative wing, the Spurgeon Library construction is nearing completion.
Allen recognized two significant upcoming events on Midwestern's campus in Kansas City, Mo. Aug. 31-Sept. 1, the seminary will hold its second For the Church Conference and Sept. 28-29, there will be a symposium entitled, "The SBC and the 21st Century." To register for these events, visit www.mbts.edu.
Following his report, Allen honored Bob Mills, executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, as the recipient of the seminary's Alumnus of the Year.
"Dr. Mills is a dear friend who is leading his state convention so faithfully and partnering with us in so many different ways," Allen said. "We are sending him graduates, and he is sending us students and together we are seeing the churches in the region strengthened. We are grateful for the way Bob is coming alongside us in our mission of serving the local church."
Mills received master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Midwestern in 1974 and 1980, respectively. He has been in ministry for more than 41 years and has served as executive director of the KNCSB since 2010.
Culminating the luncheon was a presentation titled "Through the Eyes of Spurgeon" by Christian George, curator of the Charles Spurgeon Library at Midwestern. Through a media presentation, George brought to life who Spurgeon was as a man, who he was as a Gospel minister and what the environment was like in which he ministered.
In a time of great transition, cultural change and spiritual coldness, the British preacher was "the right man for his time," George said, quoting U.S. President James Garfield, who said Spurgeon was instrumental in "helping to work out the problem of religious and civil freedom for England in a way he does not know."
George said Spurgeon's keys to success were being a "man of piety ... and a man of prayer." Additionally, he said all of Spurgeon's sermons pointed his listeners to Jesus Christ.
Spurgeon was a husband and a father, and George said the preacher's life and ministry weren't always easy, as the pastor suffered from gout and depression as well as significant persecution from the press and those opposing his Gospel ministry.
George traced how Spurgeon's personal library found its way to Midwestern Seminary in 2006. He said the legacy Spurgeon left through this treasure is that it "will become a destination for scholars, pastors, and students -- a steeple beneath which we may marvel at what God has done in the past so we can gain momentum for what God is going to do in the future."
For the second year in a row, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley announced a major donation during the National Alumni and Friends Luncheon. The latest gift, of $1.5 million, will allow NOBTS to provide 50 full-tuition Caskey scholarships for Southern Baptist bivocational and smaller membership church ministers serving in Alabama.
"We are profoundly grateful for this gift," Kelley said.
The Caskey Center for Church Excellence launched last fall using an anonymous gift to provide 144 full-tuition scholarships to bivocational and smaller membership church ministers serving in Louisiana. Later, the donors set aside money to provide 50 scholarships in Mississippi. To date, $11.5 million has been given for Caskey scholarships.
Kelley also announced the new Steve Caskey Pathfinder Award to be given each year to a bivocational or smaller membership church minister who has found a way to reach people for Christ in his community. The inaugural award was given posthumously to Steve Caskey, who pastored smaller membership churches in rural Louisiana. Caskey never received public accolades during his lifetime but his dedicated service for Christ is still remembered in the churches he served.
Distinguished alumni award presentations were to retired longtime NOBTS professor Daniel Holcomb, "Experiencing God" and "The Mind of Christ" co-author Claude V. King, and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore.
In his presentation of the distinguished alumni award to Daniel Holcomb, Kelley lauded the Christian history professor's legendary elective course at NOBTS, Christian Devotional Classics, and extolled Holcomb's character and scholarship.
"Dr. Holcomb is regarded so very, very highly, as one of the most respected members of the faculty that we have ever had -- not only for his scholarship and his keen intellect but also for his preaching," Kelley said. "He is truly a man of God."
Holcomb joined the NOBTS faculty in 1979 after 10 years of teaching at Oklahoma Baptist University. He served as chairman of NOBTS' division of theological and historical studies until his retirement in 2011. Holcomb continues to teach at NOBTS as senior professor of church history.
Holcomb earned a bachelor of divinity degree (now the master of divinity degree) from NOBTS and a master of theology degree and doctor of theology degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Olga, have two sons and five grandchildren.
During his days as a student, Holcomb said he was appreciative of the way NOBTS combined practical Christianity with strong academics and has sought for the same focus in his classroom.
"That's the balance that I received and which over the years of my teaching I have tried to perpetuate," Holcomb said. "A tough mind and a tender heart. A thinking mind and a serving heart. An available mind, but a mind linked without any deviation and without any apology to the Lord Jesus Christ."
Kelley commended the second recipient, Claude V. King, for co-authoring two of most influential Bible studies in SBC history -- Experiencing God with Henry Blackaby and The Mind of Christ with T.W. Hunt.
"[Claude King's] fingerprints are on so much of what has helped Southern Baptists learn about walking with God, studying His Word and becoming truly devout and spiritual people," Kelley said. "Claude, you have touched my life. You've touched the lives of so many at our seminary and across the Southern Baptist Convention."
King, discipleship and church health specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, earned master of divinity and master of religious education degrees at NOBTS. King and his wife, Rita, have two daughters and three grandchildren.
"There's no telling what God could do with Southern Baptists," King said, "if we would capture that vision of equipping laypeople to be on mission of making disciples as they go about their daily lives and catch God's vision of impacting the nations for the Kingdom."
In introducing the third honoree, Kelley praised Russell Moore's work as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and called on the alumni group to shower the leader with prayer.
"I want all of us who are here today to make a commitment to pray afresh for Dr. Russell Moore," Kelley said. "I don't know what the Supreme Court decision on marriage is going to be, but I know whatever it is, this man is going to be in the spotlight. He is also going to be helping Southern Baptists learn how to deal with whatever that decision might be. We really need to pray for him as he helps us stand for Jesus."
Moore earned a master of divinity degree at NOBTS before earning a doctor of philosophy degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a distinguished teaching and leadership tenure at Southern Seminary before taking the helm of the ERLC in 2013. The author of numerous books, Moore has become one of the foremost advocates of orphan care and adoption in the SBC. Moore and his wife Maria have five sons.
"I am thankful to God for every minute I spent at New Orleans Seminary, learning the Bible, learning church history, learning spirituality, learning how to preach ... having professors who poured into my life," Moore said.
Moore said what he appreciated most at NOBTS was the focus on evangelism and the requirement for students to participate in door-to-door witnessing through the supervised ministry classes. He also commended the spirit in which NOBTS students engage the culture in New Orleans.
"The task of New Orleans Seminary is more important than ever. You are the seminary right down the street from Bourbon Street that was never afraid of Bourbon Street. The entire world is Bourbon Street now. We need to be the people who know how to speak to Bourbon Street and who know how to love Bourbon Street and who aren't afraid of Bourbon Street."
In a brief business session, the national alumni group elected past SBC president and New Orleans pastor Fred Luter as NOBTS national alumni treasurer. The other officers include Nathan Cothen of Beaumont, Texas, president; Sammy Morrow of Pineville, La., president-elect; and Ron Holman of Albany, Ga., secretary.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's Alumni and Friends Luncheon hosted 400 guests for talks on various facets of God's call to missions and a worship time led by Shane & Shane.
The luncheon was held on June 17, coinciding with the Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus, Ohio.
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, spoke at the luncheon about the partnership between Southeastern and the IMB to fulfill the Great Commission.
Platt said he believes God is doing a unique work at Southeastern with all areas of the campus "engrained with mission fervor."
The three short talks were focused on what it means to answer the call of God to go make disciples.
Ed Stetzer, vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources, spoke on "All God's People on All of God's Mission." Stetzer noted that "the mission of God is not something that is engaged in a subset of God's people but is engaged by all of God's people."
"I am blessed when all of God's people say 'I am going,'" Stetzer said.
D.A. Horton, national coordinator for urban student missions at the North American Mission Board and a Ph.D. student at Southeastern, spoke on "Kingdom Diversity and the Mission of God."
Horton highlighted strategic ways to seek the diversity of the Kingdom of God in a higher academic setting by building an articulation agreement, providing benevolent funding and developing a high level of authenticity.
As the unified body of Christ, Horton noted, "we're running to communities that everyone is running out of."
Chuck Quarles, professor of New Testament and biblical theology, spoke on "SEBTS and the Great Commission." Quarles said Jesus' greatness leads the nations to believe in Him and worship Him.
"God will draw the nations of the world to bow before our Savior," Quarles said. "We should share the Gospel expectantly because our Savior is greater."
Southeastern President Danny Akin delivered an update on highlights from the past year and future goals. "God continues to let His hand of blessing rest on this institution," Akin said.
Matt Carter, pastor of teaching and vision at The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, recently graduated with a doctor of ministry from Southeastern. His church pledged an additional $500,000 to support Southeastern over the next 10 years.
"Southeastern is striking a perfect balance between academic theology with practical training," Carter said. "SEBTS was the best educational experience of my life."
Students and alumni of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary can have confidence in the Gospel in face of mounting cultural changes because of Christ's death and resurrection, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said during the seminary's June 17 luncheon.
"We have been stripped of the illusion that we're in control of the culture," Mohler said. "We've got a stewardship and a witness, but clearly we're not in charge; we're not ashamed and we're not afraid."
Mohler spoke to a gathering of seminary faculty, alumni, trustees and others during the annual Southern Seminary Alumni and Friends Luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention, held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.
Instead of presenting an annual review of the seminary's growth and developments, Mohler spoke about remaining steadfast to biblical orthodoxy as the sexual and moral revolution confronts the church. Attendees of the luncheon received a copy of the "President's Report," a new 36-page publication providing a summary of the 2014-15 academic year.
Standing against the culture's attempts to redefine marriage, sexuality and gender involves the truthfulness of the Bible and the trustworthiness of God Himself, Mohler said.
"Long before mainline Protestants could abandon sanity and biblical revelation on marriage they had to abandon the Bible as God's revelation in the first place," Mohler said. "In terms of major American denominations, there's only one that stands for the inerrancy of Scripture and what that demands of us concerning doctrine and morality."
Reflecting on the 1990 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, which was the last attempt by moderates to regain control during the conservative resurgence, Mohler expressed gratitude for the direction of the denomination in years since. But, echoing his June 16 report to SBC messengers, Mohler said seminary training remains "ground zero" for ministers to maintain doctrinal and moral fidelity in the local church.
"In terms of shaping a generation in the faith and doctrine and morals of Christianity, that's a responsibility the churches have entrusted us with in a big way," Mohler said.
During the luncheon, Mohler presented the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award to Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Chitwood graduated with his M.Div. (1995) and Ph.D. (2001) from Southern Seminary.
"In his public life and in his private life, in his role as a denominational statesman and his role as a pastor, in his role as an alumnus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paul Chitwood has brought great pride to this institution," Mohler said. "I can't tell you how much easier it is for Southern Seminary to communicate how important state conventions are when students in Louisville, Ky., get to see a state convention like the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the kind of leadership that Dr. Paul Chitwood has brought."
Chitwood previously served as KBC president (2005-06) and chairman of the board for the International Mission Board (2008-10) and is a former assistant professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Seminary.
A native of Jellico, Tenn., Chitwood pastored Kentucky Baptist churches for nearly 20 years before assuming the role of KBC executive director in 2012. During a reorganization of the KBC in 2012, Chitwood created a church consulting and revitalization team in his desire to promote church revitalization along with church planting. Chitwood's emphasis on church revitalization may explain why KBC churches -- contrary to national trends -- have added new members the last three years: 27,694 in 2012 and 26,572 in 2013 and 26,222 in 2014.
The luncheon also featured a testimony from Southern Seminary M.Div. student Eric Iverson, an enrollment counselor at Southern's Boyce College undergraduate school. Iverson arrived on the campus of Southern Seminary in 2013 from Minneapolis after 28 years of youth ministry experience. He felt called to pursue formal theological studies through his church's affirmation of his ministerial calling and his reading of Scripture. Since he began working for Boyce, seminary leaders say he has been a major asset in recruiting students.
"The church is the reason for everything that we do," Iverson said. "It's the reason I get excited recruiting students to come to Boyce because I know if they're coming to study at Boyce, they will be much better church members and know what a good church will look like, and we get to help create a beautiful church experience."
Luncheon participants joined their voices in unison to sing the seminary's hymn, "Soldiers of Christ in Truth Arrayed," and close out the annual gathering.
At its annual Alumni and Friends luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention June 17, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary presented distinguished alumni awards to three recipients: James Leo Garrett, distinguished professor emeritus of theology at Southwestern; Tony Mathews, senior pastor of North Garland (Texas) Baptist Fellowship; and posthumously to Leroy Krolczyk, development officer at Southwestern.
Garrett, who has held emeritus status since 1997, has more than 60 years of academic experience and is renowned as a Baptist statesman. Author of the two-volume "Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical and Evangelical" and contributor to more than 130 other published works, Garrett officially retired in the mid-1990s but has nevertheless remained active in Southern Baptist life.
In a video tribute to Garrett, SWBTS professor of systematic theology Malcolm Yarnell said, "For my fellow professors, who now further the Southwestern legacy, we want to say to James Leo Garrett Jr., 'We are grateful to God for His gift to this seminary, to the churches, and to His Kingdom through your ministry.'"
Mathews, in addition to pastoring the mission-minded North Garland Baptist Fellowship, currently serves as the vice president of the African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, is an administration committee member of the Dallas Baptist Association, and is a member of the executive board of trustees at Southwestern Seminary. He is the author of "There's More Than One Color in the Pew: A Handbook for Multicultural, Multiracial Churches" and is a contributing author for both the North American Mission Board's Journal of African American Southern Baptist History (2009) and for the Next Steps Resources published by the International Mission Board (2013).
"I never would have thought I would be standing here receiving such a distinguished award growing up in the 'hood' of Buffalo, N.Y., as one of those unreached, unengaged individuals," Mathews said. "All of you are a part of me, and many of you have poured into my life. I am so honored to receive this award."
Krolczyk served on Southwestern's institutional advancement team at the Havard campus in Houston as a development officer until he passed away on March 1 of this year. Following Krolczyk's death, Southwestern President Paige Patterson wrote of how precious Krolczyk was to those who knew him and how effective he was in his ministry position.
"Raising money for the seminary is fine, but never the end or real purpose of the ministry," Patterson said. "The guiding commitment is always to take care of the donors, to meet their spiritual needs, to love them supremely, and to trust God for the rest. Leroy -- wonderful husband, consummate father, gentle and encouraging minister of the Gospel -- waited on his flock as unselfishly and faithfully as any I have ever known."
Krolczyk's wife Sharon was present at the luncheon, and their daughter Leigh Anne Green accepted the award on her father's behalf.
"Our family is extremely grateful to Southwestern Seminary for honoring our husband, our dad, our papa with this Distinguished Alumnus Award," Green said. "We know he's looking down and smiling on us today, and if he could speak a word to us he would simply say, 'It is well.'"
In other business at the luncheon, new alumni officers were elected. Mark Anderson, pastor of Lynwood Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau, Mo., moved from vice president to president by acclamation, and Mark Mucklow, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church at Sahuaro in Glendale, Ariz., was elected vice president.