SBC DIGEST: NOBTS focuses on missions during annual luncheon; SBTS celebrates record summer enrollment

NOBTS alumni luncheon chronicles the seminary’s history of missions

By Timothy Cockes, NOBTS

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) — The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) Alumni and Friends Luncheon chronicled and celebrated a history of missions at the institution, while also renewing their continued desire to prepare their students to fulfill the great commission.  

The luncheon, held Wednesday, June 12, at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Indianapolis, featured a variety of alumni and faculty speaking about the historic work the seminary has done training and sending Southern Baptist missionaries.

The event, attended by nearly 800, featured a conversation between Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College, and International Mission Board (IMB) President Paul Chitwood.

Dew said before accepting his position as president five years ago, God was already preparing and returning his heart towards missions.

“In the years that led up to that [becoming president], God had sort of prepared my heart and conditioned me,” Dew said. “There was a lot of renewing work that the Lord was doing in my heart. There was a time a while back in my life where it mattered a lot to me that I had become something academically. Through a long process of events, the Lord had just done a work to really break that.

“Really in the months leading up … the Lord had done a work where the desire was to spend my life, in whatever capacity the Lord was going to give us, to give us the ability to shape eternity with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And to see as many people as possible, both here and abroad come to faith, because at the end of the day that’s what matters.

“I saw that if we really were going to do something for the great commission, if we were going to train the next generation of missionaries, that there was no better place on planet Earth to do that than the city of New Orleans. And there was no better institution to do that in than NOBTS. But I knew it would take everything I had, and I knew it would take everything my team had and I knew it would take everything our people had.”

Dew expressed his gratitude toward Chitwood for the work of the IMB and doubled down on his desire to partner with the entity moving forward.

“I came to you early on and said, ‘help me help you,’” Dew said. “Help us re-crank the missiological engine that is NOBTS and Leavell College so that we can become a pipeline for you. I just want you to know as we’re gathered together we renew that desire with you. Quite frankly, I think that Southern Baptists want to see our entities work together as best we can, because we’re on the same team trying to go after the same mission.”

Chitwood then thanked Dew for the seminary’s intentional partnership.

“I hear a lot of people ask, what can we do for the IMB, what can we do with the IMB?” Chitwood said.

“I thank God for everyone who brings a question like that, but I see few people who follow through on that with intentionality, the conviction, the energy and the effort that I’ve seen from you personally Dr. Dew, from your family and your NOBTS family.

“It’s been an incredibly encouraging thing for me to see an institution with a culture that is being so transformed by the heart of a leader who has a heart for the nations and wants that to be the focus. We just praise God for that he is doing in New Orleans.”

Other speakers at the event included Chris Shaffer, associate vice president for institutional strategy and chief of staff, and Greg Mathias, associate professor of global missions and director of the seminary’s Global Missions Center.

Shaffer opened by sharing how missions was a priority and focus even in the founding of NOBTS.

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Alumni and friends of Southern Seminary gather at 2024 luncheon at the annual meeting

By Jacob Percy, SBTS

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) — Over 960 alumni and other guests gathered at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SBTS) annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)  in Indianapolis.  The luncheon was a time of joyful fellowship and celebration of the Lord’s faithfulness to SBTS, experiencing record summer enrollment, and had 581 students representing 28 countries graduate from SBTS and Boyce College last month.

President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. presented this year’s Alumnus of the Year Award to Dondi E. Costin, a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary and the recently elected president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Mohler said, “I had the opportunity to speak in chapel convocation at Liberty just a better month ago as an incredible experience, and I saw firsthand Dr. Costi’s leadership there, and I just drew encouragement from every aspect of my visit… Dr. Costi was made for this leadership.”

President Mohler honored outgoing Trustee Chairman and Southern Alumnus Joshua W. Powell, Pastor of Taylors Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.

During his update to the alumni, Mohler highlighted that this upcoming year will mark the thirtieth anniversary of establishing the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry. Reflecting on Billy Graham’s personal investment in SBTS, Mohler said, “Dr. Graham spoke to me, and he said, I think your opportunity is the opportunity to save this school. I don’t think there’ll be another opportunity. He told me he had two of my associates whose sons had gone to Southern Seminary and became theologically confused in a way Dr. Graham clearly understood, which was a great tragedy. And he said, ‘It’s your job to fix it.’ And then what came naturally to me was, I need your help.” Billy Graham proceeded to help by endorsing Mohler as the right candidate to lead SBTS, speaking at Mohler’s inauguration, and giving his name to the formation of a new graduate school at SBTS, The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry. Graham’s support and the formation of the Billy Graham School were critical to recovering confessional integrity at Southern Seminary.

Mohler concluded his remarks with strong reassurance, “I’m able to tell you financially, by God’s grace, by the generosity of Southern Baptist, and the generosity of friends and the strength of the program, we’re strong. In terms of academic reputation, the institution is strong. In terms of our fulfillment of the mission that Southern Baptists have given to us by God’s grace, strong.” Mohler continued, “The proof of that is not primarily on the campus. The proof of that is on the mission field. The proof of that is in young church plants all over the United States. The proof of that is in pulpits across this land in various areas of ministry and mission where our students are leading and with the college students in so many different arenas of the life.”

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