FROM THE SEMINARIES: SEBTS' first two graduates from Hunt Scholars Program; MBTS Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree; NOBTS chapel celebrates achievements

by SEBTS, NOBTS, MBTS Staff, posted Wednesday, May 22, 2019 (6 months ago)

Kevin Cox (left) and Chad Welch (right) are the first two graduates to come out of Southeastern Seminary’s Hunt Scholars Program, which began in 2015 as a way for those called to the pastorate to receive both their B.A. and M.Div. in as little as five years.
SEBTS photo
SEBTS celebrates first two graduates from Hunt Scholars Program; MBTS introduces Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree; NOBTS chapel celebrates faculty, student and staff achievements.

Southeastern celebrates first two graduates from Hunt Scholars Program

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- As Chad Welch and Kevin Cox crossed the stage of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's (SEBTS) Binkley Chapel, they celebrated not only a personal accomplishment but a monumental milestone in the life of the seminary as the first two graduates from the Hunt Scholars Program.

"This program allows hardworking students to maximize both their time and finances," said SEBTS President Danny Akin. "But even more importantly, it provides a very intensive five-year program of sequential studies that prepares them well for the ministry. My hopes for this program have really exceeded my expectations." 

The Hunt Scholars Program began in 2015, allowing students to receive their bachelor of arts and master of divinity in pastoral ministry in as little as five years. Since its inception, the Hunt Scholars Program has exceeded its enrollment projections each year and has doubled in size in the last academic year.

"I'm elated! I pray every student sensing God's call to pastoral ministry will look at this program at SEBTS. I could not hope for a better seminary, faculty or program," said Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church Woodstock, Ga. for 32 years and senior vice president of evangelism and leadership at the North American Mission Board.

The program allows for students like Welch and Cox to learn under exemplary professors who have extensive experience in pastoral ministry in the local church.

Chad Welch remembers his call to ministry clearly after the death of his grandfather in 2013. Anxious about the eulogy he was asked to deliver at the funeral, he distinctly remembered that the moment he stood up to speak "was the most comfortable, relaxing feeling I'd ever experienced." From that moment on, Welch resolved to follow Christ in the same way his grandfather did.

As Welch read scripture daily, he found himself inescapably experiencing God's confirming call on his life in numerous ways.

"Every single day for four weeks I prayed with a different excuse and every single day I'd have that excuse [addressed] in Scripture the next day," Welch said.

As Welch realized that his call truly was from the Lord, he contacted his longtime friend, Matt Capps, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C. Capps encouraged him to look into enrolling in the Hunt Scholars Program.

Kevin Cox heard the call to ministry as a teenager but ignored it for many years. After graduating high school and attending trade school, Cox went straight to work. It wasn't until many years later at a men's retreat that Cox committed to follow through with the call God had placed on his life as a boy. With that call, he knew he would need to go back to school for training. That's when his brother-in-law told him about the Hunt Scholars Program. Cox remembers being hesitant about what job prospects would look like graduating from SEBTS at 53, but he stepped out in faith and enrolled, along with Welch, as one of the first students in the Hunt Scholars Program.

"For me, it was just that confirmation of what I ran away from in my teenage years," said Cox, who lives in Maryland with his wife of 32 years.

One of the most valuable aspects of the Hunt Scholars Program for both Welch and Cox has been through the pastoral ministry enhancement course, which connects students and pastors through roundtable discussions. These discussions take place with the other Hunt Scholars over breakfast, allowing for them to ask questions and hear the pastor's transparency on successes, failures and struggles he has experienced through his years of ministry. In the 2018-19 academic year, students had the chance to hear from pastors Crawford Loritts, Vance Pitman, David Platt and Bryan Chapell and many others.

Cox believed his calling is to full-time vocational ministry, which he hopes to pursue after graduation.

In addition to serving in a local church and looking for new ministry opportunities, Welch hopes to continue pushing his app, CrossTalk, into new outlets, including K-Love and the Billy Graham Chaplain's Rapid Response Team. The app helps people grow in their faith, share the Gospel and connect people to a church they can call home.

For both Cox and Welch, the Hunt Scholars Program is worth the time and effort and has shaped them relationally, academically and spiritually.

"We are thrilled that our Hunt Scholars Program has produced its first graduates," said Scott Pace, director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership and the Johnny Hunt chair of biblical preaching.

"These pastors are tangible expressions of God's faithfulness to SEBTS and they embody the godly character, spiritual giftedness, and ministerial skills that our program is designed to cultivate and develop."

MBTS introduces Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced several changes to its counseling program on May 13, including the launching of the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree.

The changes, which were recently ratified by the faculty, signal the formal transition from the former integrated counseling model to the biblical counseling model.

"These program revisions now place Midwestern Seminary squarely in a biblical counseling model -- one which emphasizes the kind of counseling that would occur in the local church and related settings -- taking Scripture as its express foundation and methodological guide," said MBTS President Jason Allen. "This change has been made to align our counseling degree programs with the mission of Midwestern Seminary to serve local churches in the kinds of ministries that they are best-positioned and equipped to provide."

Dale Johnson, associate professor of biblical counseling at Midwestern Seminary, noted biblical counseling is not a replacement for secular professional counseling; rather, it is a unique approach that seeks to use Christ's church and his sufficient Word as the foundation of counseling theory and practice.

"We believe the church is the institution God designed to provide soul care and to employ His sufficient Word as the means to direct and comfort his people," Johnson said.

Counseling is, at its base, theological in nature, since the task consists of understanding people and their problems within the context of a worldview, he explained.

"At Midwestern Seminary, students will engage in a robust theological and biblical paradigm as the foundation and function of the counseling task. The collection of Midwestern biblical counseling degrees will prepare students to engage the church to become, once again, the most important institution for the care and cure of souls."

As a result, Johnson noted that "local churches will benefit as our graduates are prepared, not simply to offer a program of counseling, but to engage the DNA of the church. The goal is that local churches become a haven for the broken, preparing leadership and laity to minister biblically within the fellowship and missionally within the local community. Our desire is that churches become the first place people go for help in dealing with all of life's problems, rather than a desperate last resort."

Allen also addressed the status of students currently enrolled in the integrated model program saying, "Changes of this kind and scope naturally raise questions as to their impact on students enrolled in sunsetting programs like the MACO degree.

"We want to assure all of our current students that we will continue to serve them and honor their trust in Midwestern Seminary to offer them the theological education they came here to receive."

Specifically, Midwestern Seminary will continue to offer a teach-out of the programs being replaced -- the Master of Arts in Counseling (MACO), the M.Div. with counseling emphasis, and Master of Theological Studies with Christian counseling emphasis -- through the spring of 2021.

After the spring of 2021, some courses may be available via independent study for an additional period of one year (through Summer 2022).

"While this teach-out phase is not formally required by external agencies," Allen added, "Midwestern Seminary has sought to offer it as a service to our current students, expressing our appreciation that they have chosen to study with us and to assist them as they prepare for a lifetime of ministry.

"The changes enacted on March 7, were undertaken with great care and intention, as Midwestern Seminary has sought to keep its focus squarely on its mission to exist for the church. These changes were also made with the knowledge of how they would affect many of our counseling students, and we are committed to being as helpful as we can in the days ahead.”

For more information on the forthcoming MABC degree -- including the prospect of Association of Certified Biblical Counselors graduate certification -- visit https://www.mbts.edu/degrees/masters-studies/mabc/ or contact Johnson at djohnson@mbts.edu.

NOBTS chapel celebrates faculty, student and staff achievements

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary closes each spring semester with a Celebration of Excellence chapel service recognizing students, staff and faculty whose work reflects a Colossians 3:23 devotion.

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily as to the Lord and not to men," NOBTS Provost Norris Grubbs said in opening remarks. "We're here today to celebrate some who have done just that."

Three faculty members received the Marvin Jones Award for Excellence, named for Louisiana minister of education, church planter and former faculty member Marvin Jones. The award honors service in three areas. The Outstanding Classroom Teacher award was presented to Jeff Audirsch, associate professor at NOBTS' Leavell College. Harold Mosley, distinguished professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, received the Outstanding Faculty Churchman Award, and Steve Lemke, professor of philosophy and ethics, was honored with the Outstanding Research Professor award.

David Odom, associate professor of student ministry, received the Ola Farmer Lenaz grant for research. Odom's research will focus on the effective integration of adolescents into the local church after high school graduation.

Faculty members presented Chuck Kelley, chancellor, with a copy of books that were published during the academic year. The published works included: "Protect: A Youth Worker's Guide to Risk," by Jody Dean and R. Allen Jackson, and "Indispensable: Becoming an MVP in Disciplemaking," co-edited by Randy Stone.

The Outstanding Student Awards presented by publishing houses included these recipients: Brett Andrew Dickson, Zondervan Hebrew Award; Hoyt Jeremy Denton, Zondervan Greek Award; Don Shove, Zondervan Theology Award; Brett Andrew Dickson, Broadman & Holman Seminarian Award; and Christopher Brandon Phillips, LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award.

Other Outstanding Student Award recipients were: Mark Anthony Caruso, Baptist Association of Christian Educators Award in Christian Education; Don Shove, C. C. Randall Award in Evangelism; Charles Dean Ross, David and Sue Meacham Award for Outstanding Church Planting Student; Alex Robert Wendel, James A. Headrick Award for Excellence in Christian Counseling; Joshua Lay, Daniel H. Holcomb Christian History Award; Nicholas Maricle, Outstanding Student Award in Christian Thought; Kristen Bonnette, Excellence in Missional Living Award; Ron Wendell Lindo Jr, Jack and Juanita Cunningham Scholarship for Holy Land Travel; and Derek Kitterlin, Pastoral Ministries Israel Pilgrimage Scholarship.

Two students received the Braezeale Guidry Award for Excellence in Biblical Studies: Harris Dickson and Matthew T. Poole. The Society of Professors in Christian Education Awards went to Madison DuBois Cody, Lacey Ann Porter, and Karla McGehee. McGehee, recently elected to the faculty as assistant professor of Christian education in NOBTS' Leavell College, was recognized for outstanding achievement in her doctoral work.

Receiving the Robert S. Magee Doctoral Scholar award were Thomas G. Doughty Jr. and Christina Marie Sebastian.

Outstanding Student Award recipients in the degree programs were: Yungsil Chun, master of music in Christian music; Lacey Ann Porter, master of arts in Christian education; Cody James Killian, master of divinity in discipleship and ministry leadership; Joseph Seth Stanley, master of divinity; Caleb Sayger, baccalaureate program; and Matthew Blackwell, associate program.

Staff members recognized for service anniversaries included Alton "Bizzie" Bene, 30 years; Rhonda Smith; 25 years; Julie Barentine, Tyrone Cole, and Kyara St. Amant, 15 years; and Brett Allen, Don McClellan and Robbin Phelps, 10 years.

Kelley concluded the program with gratitude for those who demonstrate devotion to God through service to the seminary.

"We do thank all of you who have labored so much," Kelley said. "How grateful we are for your work."

Reported by Lauren Pratt of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, T. Patrick Hudson of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminar, and Marilyn Stewart of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
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