FROM THE SEMINARIES: SEBTS women's livestream, alumni livestream; Spurgeon College 'gap year' alternative

SEBTS women's livestream focuses on practicing theology amid brokenness

By Staff

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- As the country rages with racial tension, disease and death, how do Christian women respond to these issues in a godly way? How do women put theology into practice and lead others to do the same when worldwide brokenness is so deeply experienced?

These topics and many more were addressed at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary's (SEBTS) women's livestream event June 9, which was held in lieu of the annual Women's Leadership Breakfast at the Southern Baptist Convention. Missie Branch, assistant dean of students to women at SEBTS, moderated the panel discussion with Karen Swallow Prior, Kristie Anyabwile and Julia Higgins.

Prior, who is joining The College at Southeastern faculty this fall as its first research professor of English and Christianity & Culture, believes God is using brokenness to awaken the world to the sin that already exists. The key to pressing on amid the pain is to ask the right questions about the current circumstances.

"God is revealing these horrible, painful truths to us, and He's allowing us to see what has been there all along," Prior said. "It's difficult, but it's also a great mercy. We are all left -- myself included -- with the decision every day: What do we do with what God is revealing to us now; do we see it, and how do we respond?"

Prior believes she has been called not only to teach, but also to create spaces for evangelicals to dialogue and discuss hard topics. Christians often become polarized on a variety of issues on social media. Whether in the classroom or on social media, Prior believes her calling is to help filter through misinformation and provide spaces for honest, helpful dialogue for both students and evangelicals collectively.

"What we actually see and live and experience can oftentimes get diluted by the projection that we see on the screens and on social media such that we can no longer distinguish fact from fiction and truth from distortion," Prior said.

Even in the challenges 2020 has brought, Anyabwile discussed how she has seen triumph in the midst of adversity. Anyabwile, a speaker, pastor's wife and editor of "His Testimonies, My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God," explained that the Lord has been helping her learn how to have redemptive conversations with those who hold different perspectives.

Likewise, Anyabwile discussed how she is continuing to minister to the women in her church during this time. The Lord is teaching her how to lead women to recognize God has given them a voice to unashamedly speak truth.

"Particularly women of color, and women in general have felt voiceless,” Anyabwile said, “so in the opportunities that the Lord gives me, part of what I've been trying to do as I lead and shepherd is model -- inasmuch as the Lord gives me grace -- truth, clarity and being unapologetic with the truth.”

Watch the discussion here.

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SEBTS celebrates God's faithfulness in Alumni & Friends Livestream

By Staff

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- While COVID-19 kept Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) friends and alumni from gathering together at the 2020 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, more than 1,200 registrants joined virtually for the Southeastern Alumni & Friends Livestream June 10.

SBC President J.D. Greear and SEBTS President Danny Akin addressed the audience on issues of racial reconciliation, pastoral ministry in 2020 and the upcoming presidential election in November.

Kicking off the livestream event, Greear expressed his gratitude for Southeastern's leadership in its "theological depth and evangelistic zeal." Greear referenced Psalm 46:10, which reads, "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

"During this time we've been forced to be still, but that does not mean that God is not on the move. He is pursuing his agenda to be exalted among the nations," said Greear.

Akin followed Greear's address by providing a brief update on Southeastern's encouraging growth and health during COVID-19.

"These have been some of the most unusual days in the history of Southeastern Seminary, yet at the same time God has been unbelievably kind to us in pouring out His blessings," Akin said.

Ronjour Locke, director for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership at SEBTS, transitioned to a Q&A time with Akin and Greear. The first question centered on racial reconciliation.

"I think [the most] segregated hour is 5-6 p.m. around the dinner table," Greear said. "It's because we don't have integrated relationships and lives, [and] our churches reflect that."

Akin said listening breeds empathy, and believers should be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). This intentionality to listen led Akin to begin the Kingdom Diversity Initiative at Southeastern in 2013. From 2014-2020, Southeastern has seen its ethnic minority enrollment increase from 5 percent to 18.5 percent.

"I'm just getting ready for eternity," Akin said, "where the big family will be gathered around the throne from every tribe, tongue, people and nation adoring the same Father, worshiping the same Savior and all indwelled by the same Holy Spirit."

Both men also discussed how to approach the upcoming election year. Greear reminded attendees that while it's important to speak into political issues, it should never undermine the unity of the church and sole devotion to God.

"Our salvation doesn't come from a donkey or an elephant; it comes from a Lamb."

Akin also encouraged a spirit of graciousness with those who see political issues differently.

"We need to remind ourselves that we are a family, and family does not always see things eye to eye," Akin said. "We ought to grant one another that permission and that grace."

Watch the livestream here.

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Spurgeon College's Fusion offers alternative for 'gap year'

By T. Patrick Hudson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- Taking a year off after high school to contemplate next steps, make important life decisions, or travel the world has become increasingly popular for graduates. However, Spurgeon College's Fusion leadership is prepared to offer a solid alternative to this trend.

For students not inclined to jump immediately into college life, Erik Odegard, director of Fusion, would encourage them to consider a program that provides all the elements of a traditional "gap year," but offers missions experience, ministry training and relationship building, all while working toward a bachelor's degree.

Odegard said he understands the current cultural moment for students considering higher education. He noted there's uncertainty about whether colleges will open in the fall or about how they're responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many families, he said, are saying, "Well, maybe this just isn't the right year for you to start college."

This is where Fusion can meet a need, Odegard said.

"Essentially, what we're saying is, 'Don't waste a year,'" he said. "Don't take a year off from college; we've got a way for you to redeem this year for Kingdom purposes.'"

Fusion is a one-year program within a four-year degree, he explained. As students go through Fusion, they are concurrently earning credits toward a bachelor of arts in intercultural studies.

Participants will be part of small groups living together in the dorm, taking classes, ministering around Kansas City and traveling abroad. At the end of their year of training and studies, students go serve alongside International Mission Board missionaries.

To learn more about Fusion at Spurgeon College, visit https://spurgeoncollege.com/academics/fusion/.

T. Patrick Hudson is assistant professor of communications and history at MBTS.
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