TRUSTEES: SWBTS community dedicates building, exhibits

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Dedication of the new Mathena Hall at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary -- with its Martyrs' Walk and Lottie Moon exhibit -- highlighted three days of trustee sessions at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

Trustees and the seminary community gathered Oct. 18 for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

During the trustees' Oct. 16-18 sessions, Travis Trawick was elected vice president for institutional advancement and four professors were elevated to new faculty ranks.

Mathena Hall

The newest building on Southwestern Seminary's main campus, the 80,500-square-foot Mathena Hall was dedicated during a live-streamed ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by students, faculty, donors, state convention presidents, representatives from the International Mission Board and Woman's Missionary Union, five former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention and other guests.

Separate ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held for the outdoor Martyrs' Walk, which features names and details of Southern Baptist martyrs, and the Lottie Moon exhibit, which includes the reconstructed home of missionary Lottie Moon from P'ingtu, China, from more than 100 years ago.

During groundbreaking for the Mathena building in 2015, Southwestern President Paige Patterson shared his vision for the facility, which houses the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, Scarborough College and the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement.

"May the result of the construction of this building be that tens of thousands of people come to know Christ as Savior," Patterson said at the time. "This project is nothing but another brick and mortar structure unless it results in people coming to Christ."

That vision was echoed throughout the day Oct. 18 as various leaders and ministry partners spoke during the morning's chapel and the subsequent ribbon-cutting ceremony for Mathena Hall.

Frank S. Page, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the SBC, said during chapel, "In the Mathena building, we will see the equipping of God's men and women to take a message to every man, woman, boy and girl on the face of this earth -- the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, that their sins can be forgiven. And in that place, we will see many men and women raise a hand and say, 'Here am I, Lord. Send me.'"

Harold Mathena, who, along with his wife Patricia, donated the $12 million lead gift for the building's development in 2014, preached during chapel, calling the building's opening "miraculous."

"It is an amazing thing ... that a cotton-picker from East Texas would be able to participate in such an endeavor as this; to join so many of you in accomplishing so much," Mathena said. "It is nothing short of miraculous."

In a message from Nehemiah, Mathena stated to the audience, "Be glad about what God is doing here, the vision that's been cast here, and the effort that's exerted here to teach young men and women of God how to personally lead souls to Christ and how to go to the mission field in these countries where they're not welcome. They need to know what to do in order to accomplish a great work of God."

Kevin Ueckert, chairman of Southwestern's trustees, opened the ribbon-cutting ceremony with a prayer, saying that Mathena Hall "represents in a very clear, tangible way all of our belief in You, Lord -- that You will use this place to prepare men and women to preach the Word and go into the world with the Gospel."

Ueckert continued, "Father, we know that Your heart is for every single person to hear the Gospel, and we pray, Lord, that what happens in this place and on this campus would further that purpose. We pray that many would come to know Christ, that many would come here because of the call of the Lord on their lives to serve You in ministry, and that they would be equipped and enabled and empowered to leave this place and go to the farthest reaches of the world for the glory of Jesus Christ. And we pray, Father, that what we do today would just be the beginning of what You do for Your glory in bringing many people to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior."

Following the dedication, guests explored the building, which includes 19 classrooms, an auditorium, a library, prayer room and language lab. Southwestern faculty and staff were stationed in each room to provide information on the legacies of past and current ministers of the Gospel.

Martyrs' Walk

The Martyrs' Walk, located outside Mathena Hall, contains plaques identifying 25 Southern Baptist martyrs along with the circumstances of their deaths, reminding passersby what sharing their faith may require of them.

Bill Wallace, for example, was a Southern Baptist missionary in China when the Korean War sparked an anti-American propaganda campaign in China, and missionaries were no longer welcome there. At that time, a gun was planted under his mattress and then "discovered" by police. He was subsequently arrested as a spy.

Less than two months later, on Feb. 10, 1951, Wallace, whose time in prison was characterized by ridicule and torture, died a martyr.

Southwestern President Paige Patterson said the Martyrs' Walk was established because there is no other place "where all the Southern Baptist missionaries who have paid the ultimate cost on this earth and given their lives for Christ" were recognized in a single location.

Patterson said to attendees during the walkway's ribbon-cutting ceremony, "At some time or another, I hope you will walk down [the Martyrs' Walk] and see whom you recognize from those who have gone on to be with the Lord and paid the price in world missions. We are particularly appreciative of the International Mission Board and the WMU for helping us so much to put together this display. As far as I know, there has never been one like it anywhere."

Gordon Fort of the IMB and Shirley McDonald of WMU participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, along with Patterson and Robin Brooks, an administrative assistant for Southwestern's institutional advancement who aided the research efforts. The Martyrs' Walk is dedicated in honor of Southwestern ministry partners Myrna and John Hendrick and the Hendrick family.

Among the martyrs named in the walkway are five Southwestern alumni, whose plaques are marked with Southwestern's logo. There is also a plaque to the "unknown" martyr, which features a quote from Tertullian -- "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." The plaque, which sits at the end of the walkway, concludes, "Thank you for giving your life for Christ and His church."

Trustee sessions

Trustees, in addition to electing Trawick as vice president for institutional advancement, received a word from Frank Page and responded to a motion made at the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

Trawick, elected to the vice presidential position upon the recommendation of Patterson, currently is serving as associate vice president for institutional advancement, having worked in the office since 2004, and is working toward a Ph.D. in theology at Southwestern.

Addressing the trustees, Trawick characterized his 13 years in institutional advancement as ministering "to the sweet people whom God has brought to Southwestern Seminary" and helping them "as God has touched their hearts to impact the Kingdom work at Southwestern Seminary." He told trustees that he is "honored to be considered to continue this great work and to help minister to the folks who want to help us advance the Gospel through Southwestern."

Trawick holds a master of divinity from Southwestern and an undergraduate degree in information studies/science from Florida State University.

Page attended the trustee meeting and shared a word of encouragement. Since 1928, he said, Southwestern Seminary has received $372,612,792 through the Cooperative Program, "which makes the Cooperative Program by far the largest single donor that Southwestern has ever had."

This brings both a sense of gratitude and a sense of stewardship -- "that we must be careful to steward those dollars," said Page, a two-time Southwestern graduate.

Trustees responded to a motion made at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June asking that trustee information from all SBC entities be available online. Upon Patterson's recommendation, trustees approved the following statement:

"Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary continues to follow the longstanding practice of all Southern Baptist Convention entities by presenting a current listing of active trustees through the Southern Baptist Convention annual. This list includes the region of representation and the appropriate contact information for each trustee. The annual is distributed each year at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and is also made available publicly online as a service of the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee."

Matthew Harrison, assistant professor of foundations of education, was approved to occupy the Jack D. and Barbara Terry Chair of Religious Education, while Dean Sieberhagen, associate professor of Islamic studies, was approved to occupy the Vernon D. and Jeannette Davidson Chair of Missions, both effective Jan. 1.

R. Keith Loftin, assistant professor of philosophy and humanities, was promoted to associate professor of philosophy and humanities, while Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions, was promoted to distinguished professor of missions, both effective immediately.

Heinrich Derksen, Ralf Schowalter and Wolfgang Ertl were presidentially appointed to the faculty of Bibelseminar Bonn (BSB), Southwestern's partner seminary in Bonn, Germany.

Alex Sibley is associate director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Download Story