FROM THE SEMINARIES: SWBTS' Johnson to lead biblical counselors association; SBTS to launch 'Evening M.Div.'

by SBC Seminary & BP Staff, posted Thursday, May 17, 2018 (one year ago)

In today's From the Seminaries:

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

SWBTS' Johnson to lead biblical counselors association

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Dale Johnson, assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been elected executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Dale Johnson
 
He succeeds Heath Lambert, who stepped down from the ACBC position after becoming co-senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., with Mac Brunson last fall. Lambert, a former faculty member at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, became the church's sole senior pastor last month when Brunson announced his resignation as part of a transition plan.

Following a nationwide search, ACBC's board voted unanimously to approve Johnson as Lambert's replacement.

"Dr. Johnson is a remarkable man and is the perfect leader for ACBC," Lambert said in ACBC's formal announcement. "He is a professor of biblical counseling, he is a member in good standing of ACBC, and he holds our theological and ethical commitments with conviction and grace. He is absolutely the right choice to lead our organization into the future."

Johnson began in a part-time capacity as ACBC executive director-elect on May 1 and will be formally installed during the association's Oct. 1-3 annual conference on Southwestern's campus in Fort Worth, Texas. Johnson also will be among the conference's plenary speakers.

He will continue to serve on Southwestern's faculty while leading the ACBC.

In becoming ACBC executive director, Johnson said he is grateful to Lambert for his stewardship of the association the past six years. Johnson said the ACBC seeks "to see churches flourish as they care for souls, and we desire to equip believers to minister the Word with accuracy, conviction and compassionate care for those who are hurting."

Before coming to Southwestern, Johnson had served as associate pastor of family life at Raiford Road Church in Macclenny, Fla., for seven years after receiving an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. He first came to Southwestern as a Ph.D. student in biblical counseling, completing his degree in 2014. He was then elected to the faculty in Southwestern's Terry School of Church and Family Ministries, where he continues to lead master's- and doctoral-level courses as well as serving as associate dean for the research doctoral program. He will continue in these roles while serving as ACBC executive director.

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SBTS launches residential 'Evening M.Div.'

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- A new "Evening M.Div." from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, slated to begin this fall, will allow students in fulltime jobs to earn a master of divinity degree in four years through courses offered in the evenings.

SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr., said Southern Seminary is "committed to the training of pastors, which means we are committed to the master of divinity program. We are committed to offering the finest, most accessible master of divinity program available anywhere."

By taking four evening courses a semester two nights a week, a student living in Louisville could finish his seminary education in eight semesters.

In a news release, the seminary described the Evening M.Div. as a key step toward making seminary education available to students with church, work and family responsibilities, allowing M.Div. students both to support their families and to participate in rigorous residential seminary coursework.

More than two-thirds of Southern Seminary's students work at least 30 hours per week, either at their jobs or local church ministries, according to research of the student body conducted by Southern Seminary.

Through the Evening M.Div., students pursuing degrees in Christian ministry and Great Commission Studies who are hampered by busy schedules will get to experience residential seminary education, register for a class schedule that fits their busy lives, and still graduate in a reasonable amount of time, said Randy L. Stinson, senior vice president of academic administration and provost at Southern Seminary.

"As the responsibilities of our students have increased, so has our need to provide creative options that allow students to gain the same rigorous training as our traditional student, but in a more flexible format," Stinson said.

Patterned after similar models in fields outside Christian ministry, the Evening M.Div. will offer four complementary courses during its first semester, each meeting one time during a two-week block. In the first week, students will take one course on Monday night from 6 to 10 p.m. and a second course at the same time on Tuesday night. The following week will feature a third and fourth class on Monday and Tuesday evenings, respectively. Each class will meet six times every other week for the duration of the semester for a total of 24 on-campus hours per class. On weeks when a class does not meet, the student will complete the required coursework online.

The courses available during the evenings will rotate over the next several terms, allowing students who enroll at any spring or fall semester to finish in four years while exclusively taking evening courses twice a week. After the four classes during the Evening M.Div.'s first term, the evening course offerings will vary by semester, but the Evening M.Div. will eventually expand to feature nine different evening courses each semester.

The Evening M.Div. is not an exclusive program; any student on campus can take Evening M.Div. courses, and full-time students will be free to register for evening classes as they would any other course. Additionally, students taking Evening M.Div. courses will be free to sign up for other standard classes during the day.

"Residential theological education is our first priority," Mohler said. "An institution that does really well in residential education can do really well online, but the opposite is not true. The strength has to originate on campus, the residential faculty must be the core of the teaching, and the residential experience must undergird the online experience because it cannot happen in reverse."

More information about the Evening M.Div. is available at a dedicated web page, www.sbts.edu/evening.

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston, with reporting by Alex Sibley of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Andrew J.W. Smith of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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