SBC DIGEST: Women's Leadership Forum in West; SBTS doctoral program expands; Campus donated to OBU

by Joy Allmond and SBTS and OBU Staff, posted Thursday, December 12, 2019 (one month ago)

LifeWay to host first Women's Leadership Forum in the West

By Joy Allmond

NASHVILLE (BP) -- The LifeWay Women's Leadership Forum will make its western debut at Mariner's Church in Irvine, Calif., Feb. 20-21.

Since the inception of the forum, LifeWay Christian Resources has hosted thousands of women in the Nashville area and at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

Kelly King, LifeWay's women's ministry specialist, said there's never been a more important time than now to come alongside churches in the West.

"We need each other," King said. "Not just as individuals and sisters, but as churches who have the same goal -- to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to spur one another on as we do that.

"I'm thrilled to link arms with other leaders -- perhaps some of whom we've never had the privilege to serve -- to accomplish great things for the Kingdom and in the lives of women."

The theme of the forum is "Flourish," which focuses on the important role of mentoring in disciple-making.

Around 1,600 women leaders from 30 states and Canada worshipped together at the 2019 LifeWay Women's Leadership Forum in Hendersonville, Tenn. Hundreds are expected at the upcoming West Coast forum at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif., Feb. 21-22.
LifeWay photo
With its focus verse of Acts 12:24, King said, "Scripture has a lot of metaphors about planting seeds and where the seed falls. The result is fruitfulness. Our job is to plant the seeds, water them -- do that part of it -- but allow the Lord to bring the growth."

The women's forum is for women who lead or serve in the local church in women's and girl's ministry or by teaching Bible studies, as well entrepreneurs, stay-at-home moms and working professionals who walk out their leadership calling in their day-to-day life. Women attending the forum will sit under the teaching of today's top ministry leaders and authors, participate in breakout sessions led by experienced trainers, and learn from peers who serve in the local church.

Not only is it mission-crucial for LifeWay to host an equipping event such as the forum in the West, said King, but it's timely, given the theme and one of society's current challenges: loneliness.

"We live in an age of isolation," she explained. "It's a real issue that results in anxiety and depression. And we can find accountability and spiritual growth through mentoring relationships."

Ruth Chou Simons, founder and CEO of Colorado-based GraceLaced Co., is a keynote speaker for the forum.

GraceLaced, according to its website, is "a multi-faceted company rooted in ministry" that serves customers around the world through its offerings of gospel-inspired original prints, books and other gifts.

"I'm excited to serve and encourage women at the Women's Leadership Forum," Simons said.

"Nothing will impact our leadership as sisters serving sisters more than a steady commitment to the Word of God and the tools that help us to use our gifts in service. I can't wait to see how the Lord builds women through the forum."

LifeWay author Kelly Minter, another keynote speaker at the forum, said she's eager to break geographical ground for LifeWay's women's ministry on the West Coast.

"I can't think of a better part of the country to equip and encourage leaders in their ministries, especially since our culture is longing for truth and purpose," Minter said.

"We want to make Jesus known from East Coast to West, and I can't wait to see how the timelessness of God's Word ministers through the forum in Southern California."

The forum will also include smaller breakout sessions that allow leaders to customize their equipping experience based on their ministry roles. Attendees will hear testimonies of mentoring relationships, and there will be emphases on family and marketplace ministry.

"Collaborative Conversations" -- opportunities to network with other women who lead and trade ideas, strategies and inspiration -- will be available to all in attendance.

There will also be an on-site LifeWay store, which will offer books, Bible studies, apparel and other gifts.

The film industry will have representation through the main stage at the forum. Shari Rigby, who has starred in notable films like "October Baby" and most recently, the Kendrick Brothers' "Overcomer" is scheduled as a keynote speaker.

"LifeWay is bringing women leaders together to encourage and inspire them by uniting the East and the WestÑwomen empowering women," Rigby said.

"The world we live in today teaches us to focus on all that we see, spinning us out of control and causing anxiety to fill our lives. We must mentor women, reminding them to keep their eyes on Jesus."

Other forum speakers include LifeWay authors Jen Wilkin and Beth Moore, along with Mariners Church Pastor Eric Geiger.

Immediately following the conclusion of the leadership forum, LifeWay Women will host Living Proof Live with Beth Moore (Feb. 21-22), also at Mariners Church. Bundle pricing is available for women to attend both the forum and Living Proof Live at a discounted price.

Visit the forum website for more information and to register.

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Southern Seminary expands its non-residential doctoral studies program, adds two modular concentrations

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (BP) -- In an effort to make its doctoral studies program available to pastor-theologians everywhere, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary announced it is installing new doctor of philosophy modular concentrations in Biblical Studies and Historical and Theological Studies.

The two modular formats will bring Southern Seminary's high standard of excellence in biblical and theological studies to students previously unable to study them remotely.

The concentrations also underscore the school's commitment to excellence in biblical and theological scholarship in service to the church, said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary.

"Southern Seminary's Ph.D. program has been the leader for over a century," Mohler said. "We believe these two new programs are incredibly strong. They will serve the church, give us flexibility we have never had in the past, and put us in good stead as we look to the future for this premier doctoral program."

The new programs will extend Southern Seminary's longstanding commitment to the highest standards of Christian theological scholarship, said Matthew J. Hall, senior vice president of academic administration and provost of Southern Seminary.

"Since 1892, Southern Seminary has offered one of the premier doctoral programs in North American theological education," Hall said. "Marked by the highest level of scholarship, a commitment to biblical authority, and a passion for the church, this stewardship continues in this generation. By offering the Ph.D. in these classical theological disciplines, we are now able to make this level of study accessible to even more, all the while complementing our traditional residential programs."

These programs will not only make traditional theological disciplines more available to students who cannot physically be on campus, they will also expose students to a broader range of disciplines and equip them to be better scholars and teachers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Students in the biblical studies program will take courses in both Old Testament and New Testament directly from faculty in those departments.

Likewise, historical and theological studies students will take courses from Southern Seminary's church history and systematic theology faculty members.

The modular Ph.D. program is already excellent, said Jonathan T. Pennington, director of the research doctoral studies program, but these new courses will give modular students the opportunity to study under Southern Seminary's accomplished evangelical faculty.

"For over 125 years the goal of Southern's research doctoral studies program has been to provide rigorous scholarly training in a confessional environment, channeled into service for the Church and the Kingdom of God," Pennington said. "These new Ph.D. concentrations help us expand the heritage of our programs into the future and reach more people than ever."

These two modular concentrations will officially open in the Fall 2020 semester. Find out more about the program here: sbts.edu/newmodularphd.

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Hobby Lobby and Green Family donate campus to OBU

SHAWNEE, Oak., (BP) -- Hobby Lobby and the Green Family formally announced their donation of the former St. Gregory's University campus to Oklahoma Baptist University during a special event Wednesday, Dec. 11. The event took place at the Rockwood Center on the campus of the former SGU, now the OBU Green Campus.

Hobby Lobby purchased the property last year following SGU's bankruptcy proceedings, after St. Gregory's closed its doors in December 2017.

At that time, OBU offered a teach-out agreement to current SGU students, with many of them transferring to OBU to complete their degrees.

The donated property is approximately 72 acres, with 286,600 square feet contained in seven major buildings.

The donation deed for the property was filed earlier in the week, officially transferring ownership to OBU. St. Gregory's Abbey and Monastery will continue to occupy its current property, as will the Mabee-Gerrer Museum, as they operate as separate entities from the university.

The event included comments by Les Miller, real estate analyst for Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.; Dr. Pat Taylor, OBU interim president; Dr. Heath Thomas, OBU president-elect; Dr. David Whitlock, former OBU president and chancellor; and Dr. Will Smallwood, OBU senior vice president for advancement and university relations.

Miller, a 1981 OBU graduate, offered remarks on behalf of Hobby Lobby and the Green family, who founded and owns the corporation.

"It is with great joy that God has extended to the Green family the opportunity to invest in the future of Oklahoma Baptist University and her students, through the donation of this beautiful property, now affectionately referred to as the Green Campus," Miller said. "OBU's history is one of steadfast faithfulness to God's Word, something that must remain the highest priority as a University devoted to impacting the world for Christ and His kingdom."

"OBU is known for providing the highest in quality, Christian liberal arts education," Miller continued. "OBU functions as a means of God's grace to the students who come here to be educated. Yet they receive far more as they step into her care – they are given the rare and unique opportunity where rigorous scholarship, together with a Christian world view, prepare the whole person for success, but also for the many challenges of life. In a time when Christian faith is viewed by the world as something to be tolerated, OBU embraces the understanding that a deeply meaningful and fulfilling university education includes a firm foundation established in Christ."

"For these reasons, and for so many more, it is an honor for the Green family and Hobby Lobby to present this property to Oklahoma Baptist University, to the future benefit of generations of students, on mission for Christ," Miller said.

Miller also shared deep-felt appreciation to St. Gregory's University alumni and former employees, who impacted the community and the state with more than a century of Christian higher education on the former SGU campus.

"The Greens would also like to recognize the long and outstanding contribution that St. Gregory's University made to the Shawnee community, to Oklahoma, and far beyond. The importance of this property to the community, the alumni, faculty and administration of St. Gregory's University does not go unnoticed. To the Benedictine Monks of St. Gregory's Abbey, thank you for your stewardship of this property and ministry to Oklahoma and points beyond."

Dr. Heath Thomas, OBU president-elect, concluded the ceremony with his words of gratitude for the gift of the Green Campus and anticipation of what the future holds for OBU.

"It is an historic day," Thomas said. "It is an exciting moment in the history of OBU. We are excited about the future of this Green Campus as we continue our mission to transform students' lives by providing distinctively Christian liberal arts higher education at OBU. It carries on the legacy of education that has gone on here for over a century.

"I join the chorus of those who have spoken this morning to express my heartfelt gratitude and say thank you to the Green Family, and to all who facilitated this generous gift to OBU. This is indeed a day of celebration."

Thomas continued with words of anticipation for how the campus will be used to transform lives into the future.

"As we move forward, we will work carefully and deliberately to ensure that this campus extends the legacy of Christian higher education begun by St. Gregory's University for over a century. And for that legacy, we are grateful, and we will carefully consider how best this campus will facilitate OBU's mission of transforming lives through a distinctively Christian liberal arts education."

Joy Allmond is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.
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