SBC DIGEST: SEBTS, SWBTS and MBTS celebrate God’s faithfulness at annual meeting luncheons

(EDITOR’S NOTE -Stories for the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) and Gateway Seminary will be posted in a separate story.)

Southeastern celebrates with alumni and friends at SBC 2024 luncheon

By Mary Asta Halvorsen, SEBTS

During the final day of the 2024 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Southeastern Seminary had the privilege of celebrating with hundreds of its alumni and friends of the seminary at the annual Southeastern Alumni and Friends Luncheon.

During the event, Southeastern students, alumni, and family had the opportunity to reconnect, celebrate the Akin’s 20 years of Great Commission impact, and share stories of God’s faithfulness in their lives, and worship King Jesus together.

In the banquet introduction, Steve McKinion, director of Southeastern’s PhD and ThM Programs and professor of theology and patristic studies, welcomed attendees and took a moment to reflect on Dr. and Mrs. Akin’s twenty-year anniversary at Southeastern.

“Every corner of our campus and every aspect of our mission has been touched by Dr. and Mrs. Akin,” said Steve McKinion, director of Southeastern’s PhD and ThM Programs and professor of theology and patristic studies. “Their heartbeat has been poured into everything that we do. Our culture is built around the same commitments that they have to Jesus Christ and his mission and his commission, partnering together to see the gospel spread.”

Hearing stories of the Akin’s Great Commission impact on alumni and faculty, attendees watched a video of Southeastern alumni Nathan and Tessa Baker who are currently serving as international missionaries in Madagascar. With a heart for the nations, Tessa and Nathan arrived at Southeastern with the intention of returning to the mission field. During their time in seminary, they intentionally applied their education towards the goal of teaching what they were learning in class to the people of Madagascar. Now, thankful for the training that has equipped them, Nathan and Tessa are sharing God’s word with the Malagasy people through the art of storytelling.

Michael Guyer, a two-time Southeastern alumnus, also shared his personal story of coming to Southeastern and how God directed him towards the ministry of church planting. Dr. Akin especially played a pivotal role in this journey, Guyer recalled.

“The question that animated my theological education was not whether I should go, but it was where I should go,” he said. “And as I thought about where God was calling me and what God was calling me to do, it was clear that church planting was the next thing. And it was from Dr. Akin that I learned that the local church is God’s ‘plan A’ in fulfilling the Great Commission.”

These alumni stories were followed by a video from Southeastern faculty member Jim Shaddix, in which he reflected on Dr. Akin’s leadership, what it means to be a godly leader, and what his hopes are for Southeastern’s future.

“I lay awake at night thinking about Southeastern continuing to embrace and champion the values it has and then to pull those together as a laboratory for pastoral ministry training,” Shaddix shared. “I think we’ve got one of the greatest opportunities,” he added, “through the atmosphere on campus, to be able to do that.”

Akin reported that 26 of the missionaries commissioned during the International Mission Board (IMB)Sending Ceremony were either Southeastern alumni or current students. Already, Southeastern has 200 students serving around the world, and they are now joined by these brothers and sisters in Christ with a Great Commission vision for making disciples of King Jesus

Akin also shared about Southeastern’s ongoing prison program ministry from which 61 men have been deployed as field ministers across 15 North Carolina facilities. Furthermore, as of this year, two women’s prison programs have been or are in the process of being started as well — one in North Carolina and the other in Florida.

“I feel honored,” Akin shared, “that God, in his kindness, has allowed Charlotte and me to have 20 years here at the most wonderful school, I believe, in the world.”

“I want to say thank you for making my job a joy unspeakable and full of glory. I believe that Southeastern’s best days are in the following years and decades. I believe that with all my heart.” He added, “We have a great God who is going to honor those that honor him. And he is going to honor those who stay faithful to his final marching orders to go.”

Read the full story here.

Southwestern honors alumni, provides updates at SBC luncheon in Indianapolis
By Karen Garcia, SWBTS

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) President David S. Dockery recognized three distinguished alumni and provided an update about the seminary for alumni and other supporters during the Alumni and Friends Luncheon held June 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana, during the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting.

O.S. Hawkins, chancellor and senior professor of pastoral ministry and evangelism, offered the opening prayer and thanked alumni for supporting the seminary. That support is “a tremendous encouragement to all of us at Southwestern who are seeing new life blow through that hill in south Fort Worth.”

Southwestern A Cappella music ensemble performed while lunch was being served. Along with Cowden Hall Band, the group helped lead in worship during the SBC annual meeting as Joseph Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship, served as music director for the annual meeting.

Dockery expressed appreciation for Crider and the student musicians, “Thank you for blessing us here.”

Dockery honored three Southwestern graduates who “have made a significant difference in the cause of Christ.” The distinguished alumni recipients were announced April 28 but were presented with their awards during the luncheon. The seminary honored Stanton “Stan” Norman, Jarrett Stephens and Darin Wood.

Student interview

As the luncheon continued, the focus turned to students.

“Our students are the reason we exist,” said Madison Grace, provost, vice president for academic administration, and dean of the School of Theology. “Student focused” is one of the six core values of the seminary, he noted.

Grace spoke with Dillon Dunk, who recently finished his first year in the M.Div. program at the seminary. An Oklahoma native, Dunk said he felt God calling him into ministry during his senior year of high school. After earning his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Dunk said he was at first drawn to Southwestern Seminary because it was close. While attending the seminary’s Preview Day, however, he felt the Lord calling him to the school.

Dockery report

In his report, Dockery acknowledged the “realities of our challenges and where we are.” While the seminary continues to deal with accreditation, financial, and legal issues, Dockery said he sees a spirit of unity moving through the campus.

“It has been so fun to watch,” he added.

Dockery also shared some highlights, including faculty publications, enrollment growth, and an improved financial situation. He pointed to a recent Association of Theological Schools survey in which Southwestern was the only Southern Baptist seminary to place in the top 10 in the categories of total number of graduates, enrollment, credit hours taught, and total endowment.

He cautioned that while the seminary is now in “a place of financial stability,” it is not yet in a place of financial health.

Dockery expressed gratitude for prayers for the seminary and asked that those prayers continue.

Read the full story here.

Midwestern Seminary Alumni & Friends Luncheon at SBC24 features concert by Sandra McCracken, honors alumnus of the year

By Michaela Classen, MBTS

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) — Midwestern Seminary hosted the annual Alumni and Friends Luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting on June 12 in Indianapolis, featuring a private concert by award-winning singer and hymn writer Sandra McCracken. During the luncheon, President Jason Allen delivered institutional updates and presented the award for Alumnus of the Year.

To open the event, McCracken led guests in singing hymns including “Be Thou My Vision,” “Come Thou Fount,” and original songs “Flourishing,” “Christ is the Life of the World,” and “We Will Feast in the House of Zion.”

McCracken’s music is known for blending biblical themes in lyrics with melodies suited for congregational singing.

After the concert, President Jason Allen shared key updates on Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College.

He began by reflecting on God’s faithfulness to Midwestern Seminary since its founding as the sixth Southern Baptist seminary in 1957. He noted the institution’s enrollment growth to 5,200 students, total net assets of $100 million, and the filling of three fully funded endowed chairs in the 2023–24 academic year.

Allen said, “Our goal is to produce a generation who will give their lives to serving the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe we can draw a direct line from our convictions and our mission to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention who resonate with those and who are sending us their students in such record numbers.”

Allen went on to share institutional initiatives in which alumni and friends might partner with Midwestern Seminary in prayer.

First, he shared Midwestern Seminary’s commitment to cover 100% of tuition for the first year of residential study for master’s students in the For the Church Cohorts.

“Often, that first year is a daunting hurtle financially. By God’s grace and through generous donors, we’ve made that first year not just manageable, but free on the tuition front,” Allen said. “We are placing a premium on residential theological education. The closer to our campus a student lives, the more fully and completely we can invest in them.”

Second, Allen highlighted Midwestern Seminary’s Missions Moonshot goal to produce 100 career missionaries annually.

“Right now, the [International Mission Board] IMB has more slots funded than they have missionaries to go,” Allen said. “We need to challenge our congregations to call out the called, and we are partnering with the IMB to see missionaries step forward and to go with them.”

Finally, Allen reflected on Midwestern Seminary’s recent acquisition of the Charles Spurgeon Heritage Collection for the Spurgeon Library.

Noting the collection’s value for producing Spurgeon scholarship to edify churches, Allen said, “I expect that in generations to come, if the Lord tarries, we will see hundreds of dissertations come out of that library.”

Allen noted that Midwestern Seminary’s gratitude for such gifts stems from the institution’s commitment to serving Southern Baptist churches with doctrinal faithfulness and missional zeal.

He concluded, “I’m grateful under God to be at the front end of this stewardship on behalf of Southern Baptists, and to do so with so many friends like you in this room.”

Following the updates, Allen presented Tim Lubinus with the award for 2024 Alumnus of the Year.

Lubinus, who earned a Doctor of Ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) in 2013, serves as executive director and treasurer of the Baptist Convention of Iowa.

Previously, Lubinus served Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, from 2006 to 2014 as the regional and global ministry director, where he led the church’s strategies for missions, church planting, and local outreach. Before serving in Iowa, Lubinus and his wife, Darlene, served in Asia for 16 years as IMB missionaries.

Allen shared, “To know Tim personally is such a joy. He has a heart for the Church and the role of a state convention to serve churches.” Noting that Lubinus’ doctoral studies emphasized church planting and revitalization, Allen added, “This is a work he has undertaken with excellence.”

Read the full story here.

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