Month: October 2019

“No regrets”: Texas Representatives glad they backed 2013 pro-life law

Two Texas state representatives who are members of SBTC churches say they have “no regrets” about voting for a 2013 pro-life law that was partially struck down and has cost the state several million dollars to defend. 

“I would support it again,” state Rep. Matt Krause told the TEXAN.

Pro-lifers in the Texas legislature passed House Bill 2 in 2013, but then watched in disappointment three years later as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down two parts of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The high court ruled unconstitutional a section requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic. Also ruled unconstitutional was a section requiring clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical standards. 

The legal cost of defending the law rose this August when a judge ordered the state to pay an additional $2.5 million in attorney’s fees, The Houston Chronicle reported. That brought the total cost to an estimated $3.6 million.

Krause, a member of First Baptist Church, Keller, said the law “has saved literally thousands of lives.”

“I have no regrets at all,” said Krause, whose district covers part of Tarrant County. “I felt like it was a good bill that was narrowly tailored to address terrible things going on in the abortion industry in Texas. I thought it was very reasonable. And I thought it was well thought out. And so I was glad to support it.”

Largely overlooked, Krause noted, is the fact that two sections of House Bill 2 remain in effect: a section banning most abortions at and after 20 weeks post-fertilization, and a section requiring abortion-inducing drugs be administered per manufacturers’ instructions. 

Rep. Scott Sanford, who serves as executive pastor of Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen, also said he is glad he voted for it.

“I have no regrets in supporting the law,” Sanford, whose district covers part of Collin County, told the TEXAN. “It protected women, primarily so that if they did find themselves in a clinic, they would have the opportunity to be in one that was safe and that met normal medical care standards.” 

The law’s partial demise may have been a result of unfortunate timing. The Supreme Court struck it down, 5-3, four months after Antonin Scalia—who opposed Roe v. Wade—died. More significantly, the ruling was handed down two years before Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted in the majority, retired. 

Kennedy was a swing vote on the court and supported Roe v. Wade. Yet he also had sided with pro-lifers in a 2007 decision, Gonzales v. Carhart, that upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion.  

“There was reason to believe that all the provisions of the bill—based on Kennedy’s earlier ruling—could be upheld and actually pass the Supreme Court test,” Krause said. “Now having said that, I think if that same bill were to come back before the Supreme Court right now, that it has a very strong likelihood of getting upheld.”

Since the 2016 decision, Kennedy has been replaced by Brett Kavanaugh. Neil Gorsuch took the place of the late Scalia.  

Both Krause and Sanford are optimistic about the future of the pro-life movement. Sanford pointed to advanced ultrasound technology that provides a peek at the unborn life.

“That is beginning to move the needle toward understanding that there’s life in the womb—it’s valuable life and worthy of protection,” Sanford said. “So I’m really excited about that—that it will eventually drive, I believe, the court system in their decisions.”

Krause, too, is optimistic. “The sanctity of human life continues to be one of the animating principles for many of the legislators in the Texas Legislature,” Krause said. “So you’re going to continue to see members fight for human life on the Texas House and Senate floors. You’ve got a governor who’s ready and willing to sign pro-life legislation. And so I think we’ve got to keep pushing forward and moving forward until we can get an even stronger pro-life bill upheld by the Supreme Court, which I think is a very good possibility with the makeup we have now.”  

“Look Like Heaven” symposium equips established churches to transition to diversity

Odessa—Prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention a hundred church leaders gathered at the “Look Like Heaven” symposium on Monday, Oct. 28, to hear from keynote speakers Gary Smith and Jason Paredes, retired pastor and current lead pastor, respectively, of Fielder Church, Arlington. The event focused on leading an established church from being mono-cultural to being multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. A diverse panel followed the keynotes, and the event concluded with worship and a sermon.

“If there is anything that is close to the heart of God, it would be that our churches reflect our community,” Smith said, adding, “and when they don’t, I would be so bold as to say I don’t think God’s pleased with that.” Smith started the program by drawing lessons from his 25-year tenure at Fielder Church. When he started as pastor the community around the church was primarily Anglo. But the community was changing, and he didn’t realize the church no longer looked like its community. “Where I was, in my track of life,” he said, “I didn’t see it.” Recounting a time when he went to a local high school event and saw how diverse the community had become, Smith remembered thinking, “Oh my goodness. My city has changed. While I’ve been sitting here as the leader of this church, and I didn’t know it.” He pointed out that “the one person that ought to know what’s happening in this community is its pastor. And I would admit to you that our growth in what we had done had caused us to coast along to the place of no longer examining reality and what was around us.”

Smith cautioned leaders to check their motives for wanting their congregations to reflect the diversity of heaven. “If this is about growing your church, don’t do it,” he said. “You’ll do it for the wrong reason, and you’ll quit before you get there… [You] ought to do it because it [is] right.”

Ultimately, Smith led Fielder Church to make intentional efforts to reflect its community. “What entity in our community ought to reflect the diversity of our community more than anything else?” he asked. “God’s church.” He added, “I personally cannot think of a bigger issue confronting the church today, as far as its future, than its ability to reach its Jerusalem.” 

Diversity is a commodity

Jason Paredes, who currently pastors Fielder Church, emphasized the need for prayer and fasting. “You will not become a multi-ethnic church and you will not maintain multi-ethnicity,” he said, “without prayer and fasting.”

At Fielder, these efforts resulted in intentional efforts to make the congregation and its staff diverse. “There’s no way you can ever become diverse unless you recognize the commodity that diversity really is,” Paredes said specifically related to staff hiring. “Diversity is a commodity.” He advised church leaders to “be in relationship with godly leaders who are of a different culture, ethnicity than you…not token friends, but genuine friends.” This will allow people from various backgrounds to “ask the hard questions but be in the context of relationship.”

Later, a panel discussion featuredSmith and Paredes as well as Averri LeMalle, a campus pastor for Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston; Hyoung Min Kim, SBTC evangelism and Korean Fellowship consultant; and Randal Lyle and Steven Lentz, pastor and worship pastor of Meadowridge Community Church in Fort Worth. The panel, which fielded questions from the audience, noted that one good place to start with intentional diversity was in the room. “That’s one of the beauties of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is that you have all these different churches with different cultures and backgrounds.”

Looking like heaven takes intentional effort and planning, but Paredes said it’s worthwhile. “Progress and growth will be slow and steady and you have to be okay with that,” Paredes said, emphasizing the need to play the “long game.” Paredes concluded, “Do not make multi-ethnic your goal. Make gospel community your goal.”

After the keynotes and panel, attendees spent time in worship, led by the Look Like Heaven Choir, followed by a sermon from Lyle.

Richard Taylor, evangelism associate, said attendees were helped “to learn and explore ways to be intentional about evangelizing and discipling all people and to lead their churches to reflect the community in which they sit.” He added, “Both diversity and culture are gifts from God, and should be celebrated.”

SWBTS faculty affirm women colleagues McCoy, Stovall

FORT WORTH – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary faculty issued a resolution of support for their colleagues Katie McCoy and Terri Stovall on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

The resolution requested by Malcolm Yarnell, SWBTS research professor of systematic theology, reads as follows:

I move that the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary express its great appreciation for Dr. Terri Stovall and Dr. Katie McCoy for their theological orthodoxy, their contribution to scholarship, their positive conduct during trying times, and their Christ-like leadership within the seminary community. We ask the president to use this resolution for public record as he deems fit.

SWBTS President Adam W. Greenway posted with affirmation the resolution on Twitter.
“I want to publicly affirm [Dr. Terri Stovall] and [Dr. Katie McCoy] and denounce in the strongest terms any attacks on their qualifications for service here,” Greenway tweeted. “I want to publicly communicate in the strongest terms my total confidence in these two scholars. As an institution, [SWBTS] is committed to equipping and empowering God-called women for more faithful Kingdom service, including teaching and leading in the academy.”

SWBTS trustee chairman Philip Levant, pastor of Iglesia Bautista La Vid in Hurst, also publicly affirmed the resolution.

“Any attack on our faculty is an attack on all members of the SWBTS family,” Levant tweeted. “We are one Southwestern!”

The faculty unanimously adopted the resolution in response to an email provided to SWBTS trustees at the fall trustee meeting Oct. 21-22. Scott Colter, who served as chief of staff under former SWBTS President Paige Patterson, allegedly sent the email in May 2019 to the now-defunct email address of Dorothy Patterson, Paige’s wife. The email was obtained by Baptist Press and authenticated by seminary officials.

The purpose of the email was to provide “reference points” for SWBTS donor James Merritt of South Carolina to use in requesting the return of funds donated to the seminary to endow the Dorothy Kelley Patterson Chair of Women’s Studies, established in 2015. The endowed chair was held by Candi Finch prior to her termination by trustees in October 2018.

The section of the email most directly related to the resolution passed by the faculty reads:

SWBTS now does not have a systematic theologian trained in complementarianism and feminism to occupy this chair or teach necessary courses. Dr. Katie McCoy has posted several things to social media that are concerning and show she is not ready to fulfill this chair adequately. Dr. Terri Stovall is not academically qualified to teach the associated courses in theology.

The email also referenced removal of a gravestone for the Pattersons’ dog, the termination of Finch and the removal of the stained-glass windows in MacGorman Chapel. These were presented to Merritt as “reasons to consider” a request to have the seminary return his funds.

When asked by BP about the email Colter responded, “The email in question was provided to a donor per his request. The donor, a personal friend, felt his gift was not being used by SWBTS as he intended. This gift was given as an endowment in honor of Dorothy Patterson to preserve the biblical principles regarding complementarianism and women’s studies that she taught…[and] the email references the gift being returned to the original donor so that his original intent can be followed.”

Merritt is a retired vice president of the Steel Heddle Manufacturing Company, a former first vice president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and has served as a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary trustee. His wife Dorothy is a retired vice president of operations at BB&T Bank. The couple also endowed a women’s studies scholarship at SWBTS and established a fund at SEBTS for a student in women’s studies.

It’s a new day,_x009d_ SWBTS affirms

FORT WORTH – “It’s a new day at Southwestern,” said Philip Levant, chairman of the board of trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, at the conclusion of their fall meeting Oct. 23. Trustees began the week participating in the inauguration of Adam W. Greenway, elected the school’s ninth president earlier this year.

In his report to trustees, SWBTS President Adam W. Greenway shared about the “many signs of hope” that he sees at the seminary. The greatest sign of hope, he said, is the students, whom he called the most important people at the institution.

“God is with us,” Levant continued. “He is blessing us. I think it’s clear to see that He is putting everything in place for us to move forward. We are not where we want to be, but we know where we’re going. And I’m excited to see where we’re going to be by God’s grace and his leadership.”

During the meeting, trustees elected and promoted faculty; voted to name the building formerly known as the Baptist Heritage Center, “Carroll House,” in honor of Southwestern Seminary founder and first president B.H. Carroll; approved a new master’s degree; received and accepted financial statements for the previous fiscal year; adopted new policy statements and agreements and conducted other business.

The following faculty were elected, all of whom were serving under presidential appointment:

  • Joseph R. Crider was elected dean and professor of church music and worship in the School of Church Music and Worship.
  • David S. Dockery was elected distinguished professor of theology in the School of Theology.
  • Travis S. Kerns was elected associate professor of apologetics and world religions in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
  • Charles T. Lewis was elected professor of church music and worship in the School of Church Music and Worship.
  • John D. Massey, who already serves as associate professor of missions, was elected dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
  • Chris Shirley was elected professor of educational ministries in the Jack D. Terry Jr. School of Educational Ministries.
  • Michael S. Wilder was elected dean and professor of educational ministries in the Jack D. Terry Jr. School of Educational Ministries.
  • Gregory A. Wills was elected research professor of church history and Baptist heritage in the School of Theology.

The following faculty were promoted:

  • Robert Caldwell was promoted from associate professor of church history to professor of church history.
  • Paul Hoskins was promoted from associate professor of New Testament to professor of New Testament.
  • Eric Mitchell was promoted from associate professor of Old Testament and archaeology to professor of Old Testament and archaeology.

All elections and promotions are effective immediately.

At the recommendation of the trustees’ Executive Committee, trustees voted to rename the Baptist Heritage Center “Carroll House.” The facility will be the headquarters of the B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission, of which Gregory A. Wills serves as director.

Commenting on this decision during his president’s report, Greenway called Carroll a “mighty man of God and convictional Baptist statesman.” He said it was “most appropriate” that the B.H. Carroll Center be housed in a building named in honor of Carroll.

In other business, trustees voted to approve the recommendation of the Academic Administration Committee to create a Master of Music in Worship Leadership in the School of Church Music and Worship.

At the recommendation of the Business Administration Committee, they also received and accepted the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2019, for Southwestern Seminary and for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Development Foundation, Inc.

In addition, trustees voted to adopt a new Investment Policy Statement and a new Investment Management Agreement with GuideStone Financial Resources. Furthermore, they approved the recommendation that the Business Administration Committee establish control over the investment accounts and “any authority the Southwestern Seminary Foundation may have previously been given.”

Two recommendations were approved from the Communications, Policies, and Strategic Initiatives Committee. First, trustees voted to amend the seminary’s bylaws, and second, they voted to adopt a motion “empowering the Committee for Business Administration to select advisors and delegate duties and responsibilities to them.”

During his president’s report Greenway commented on these recommendations, saying, “We are moving in the right direction financially. My hope and prayer is that the Lord will continue to help us, as we are always in the process of monitoring and evaluating, making sure that we keep our expenses as conservative as we can, to really strengthen our position institutionally; to be the strongest steward of the resources that God has entrusted to us.”

Beyond voting to approve these recommendations, trustees heard a report from Greenway, who shared about the “many signs of hope” that he sees at Southwestern Seminary. The greatest sign of hope, he said, is the students, whom Greenway called the most important people at the institution.

“Because without the students,” he explained, “we don’t need a faculty. Without the students, you don’t need a president. Without the students, we wouldn’t have donors. Without the students, we don’t need a campus. The most important people at Southwestern Seminary are the students. That’s why we’re here.”

“And outside of the students,” he continued, “it is the faculty. Because students come to study with a faculty. And so this president is deeply committed to doing everything we can to strengthen student recruitment, student experience, student retention; and to continue to build and to strengthen the strongest possible faculty of God-called men and women across every discipline, and strength upon strength throughout the entirety of the academic enterprise. Because that is what Southwestern Seminary is first and foremost about. That’s why we do what we do.”

Sharing Levant’s perspective of a “new day” at Southwestern Seminary, Greenway concluded, “I believe the Lord is doing a fresh work here on Seminary Hill. I believe through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come, but the best is yet to come. If we’ll stay close to him, stay humble, God will make us fruitful and, prayerfully, find us faithful.”

SBTC DR recovery crews assist tornado victims in DFW Metroplex

GARLAND – Ronald Busby viewed the skeletal remains of an oak tree which once graced his front yard and shaded the white frame home he has owned for 23 years in the Park Grove neighborhood of Garland. The tree, like much of Busby’s neighborhood, was damaged when tornadoes swept through the DFW Metroplex on Sunday, Oct. 20.

“I planted that tree when I moved in,” Busby told the TEXAN as SBTC Disaster Relief crews worked on his property Thursday following the storm. “[The tree] was perfect. When the sun came from over there, it blocked it. It had squirrels. Maybe I’ll plant another.”

Later he added, “I’m alive and everything is fine.”

Busby said he was sitting in his living room chair when the tornado hit.

“I didn’t even have a chance to get outof the chair, and it came,” he said. “I thought, well, here goes.”

Admitting he was a “little worried” as the tornado struck, Busby recalled hearing a brief warning siren, sensing the wind pick up and feeling the house shake for a few minutes. Then it was over, leaving split and downed trees, and roof and exterior damage.

Busby, a follower of Christ, said he had assisted victims in Rowlett and Rockwall following the 2015 tornadoes.

Now it was his turn to be helped.

Busby heard about SBTC DR when DR assessors knocked on his door to offer help.

“This means a whole lot,” he said, expressing appreciation over the chug of a small generator. Power had not yet been restored to the neighborhood, although utility crews labored nearby.

Modest frame homes like Busby’s, many built in the 1950s, dot the once tidy Park Grove neighborhood in Garland, a city that ranks 12thin population in Texas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey.

Busby’s area, south of Forest Lane and east of Jupiter Road, was among the hardest hit.

Within two days of the storm, SBTC DR chainsaw, recovery, shower and laundry, feeding, command and administrative volunteers established operations at Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida on Gus Thomasson Road, and crews began assessing homes.

Recovery work began Wednesday, Oct. 23, as volunteers manning the chainsaw unit from Boyd Baptist Church in Bonham, under the direction of Monte Furrh, began sawing off limbs of downed trees and taking down trees threatening homes.

Thursday morning, in Busby’s back yard, Talana Foley of Van Alstyne watched as her husband, Mike, cut a notch in a large oak too damaged to survive. As the chainsaw crew grasped guide ropes secured to the tree and moved to a safe distance, Mike, clad in Kevlar chaps for safety, made careful cuts in the other side of the large trunk till it gave way, pulled down by the crew. The ground shook as the tree toppled.

Chainsaw crew members then set to work cutting up the downed tree as other volunteers gathered logs, limbs and branches for removal to the curb.

It was a lot of firewood.

It was also Talana Foley’s first deployment, although she had previously trained as a DR volunteer. With two young sons, a farm with cattle and a construction business in Van Alstyne, Foley had not had the opportunity to serve on a DR team.

But as this deployment was local, Foley said she knew she had to come and “join in,” commuting from her home.

“This is our third job today,” assessor Barbara Dunn of Levelland said, over the grinding roar of chainsaws.

Volunteer Fred Regalado of Melissa was also on his first DR deployment.

A professional cook about to retire for the second time, Regalado has already undergone SBTC DR feeding training and hopes to help staff quick response kitchens or larger feeding units.

“I’ll be in the trailer, cooking for first responders [one day],” Regalado said, adding that he had accompanied the Bonham chainsaw team to Garland, planning to “take notes.” Instead he busily worked gathering debris and manning guide ropes.

“I’ll be back tomorrow,” Regalado said.

Heavy late afternoon rains brought Thursday’s recovery work to a stop, but crews planned to return to the field Friday or as soon as rains ceased. Assessors continued talking to homeowners and securing work orders.

SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice confirmed Furrh’s chainsaw crew will continue through the weekend and a new team and second recovery unit from the Dogwood Trails Baptist Area will arrive Friday or Saturday, depending upon the weather. Another chainsaw team from Oklahoma Baptist DR is en route. Crews will remain housed at Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida.

“We are excited about working with Nueva Vida. Their members were already in the field ministering when we arrived,” Stice said.

Individuals needing help may call the following number to request assistance: 903.714.9167 or go by the SBTC DR trailers at Nueva Vida, 2626 Gus Thomasson Road, Dallas.

SBTC DR quick response kitchens serve up food, hope and salvation to Dallas tornado victims

DALLAS – Within a day after multiple tornadoes cut a swath through Dallas and surrounding cities on Sunday, Oct. 20, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief deployed two quick response feeding units staffed with volunteers to meet the immediate needs of victims in the hardest hit areas of North Dallas and Richardson.

A QR unit from First Baptist The Colony arrived in Dallas on Monday, Oct. 21, setting up operations in a parking lot adjacent to the heavily damaged Home Depot at 11682 Forest Lane. On Sunday the home improvement store’s manager had closed the store 30 minutes before storms hit, local news outlets reported.

SBTC DR team members shared the Home Depot parking lot space with downed trees and twisted light poles, plus trucks, trailers and heavy equipment from utility companies and the city. Neighbors, first responders, utility workers and security personnel helped themselves to hot sandwiches served with smiles and friendly words by yellow-clad DR volunteers.

“It means a lot, not just for the officers here, the law enforcement and first responders—the things the church does, going out and helping the citizens in need,” Deputy Michael Perez of the Dallas marshal’s department, told the TEXAN as he grabbed a hamburger and potato chips from SBTC DR worker Tom Kammerer. “When a disaster hits, it’s good to have good Christian people out here who are doing this stuff. It brings hope to everybody in the community,” Perez added.

DR feeding crews at the Home Depot site served hundreds, especially Monday and Tuesday, before electricity was restored to the area. Neighboring Dickey’s and Cane’s restaurants brought donated meals which the SBTC DR crews distributed on Monday before cooking the following days.

Homeless persons came for food. Residents of nearby apartment buildings, including many from a senior citizens’ complex, drove by to pick up hot meals, grateful for the food since their homes had no power.

Sometimes visitors received nourishment for the soul, as John Pecoraro, FBC The Colony’s pastor of evangelism and students, saw. Pecoraro used Google Translate to explain the gospel to a young Honduran man also named John.

“Each of them had their phone and they were using Google Translate, and the young gentleman prayed to receive Christ,” said SBTC DR incident leader Robin Hull.

The SBTC QR unit came to FBC The Colony from Houston’s First Baptist, which had used it during Hurricane Harvey and made it available to the DFW-area church. FBC The Colony shares responsibility for the unit with FBC Leonard, Hull said.

Hull and others on the feeding team had only recently returned from Vidor, where they ministered to Imelda victims.

“We just try to serve people and meet their needs,” Hull said.

While the QR kitchen at the Forest Drive Home Depot remained busy, a second quick response unit from Salem-Sayers Baptist Church near San Antonio set up operations Tuesday, Oct. 22, in a small shopping center parking lot at Buckingham and Audelia in Richardson. The diverse neighborhood, a mixture of strip malls, upper and lower income homes, shops and apartments, was without power until Tuesday, DR volunteer Connie Roark confirmed.

Before power was restored, volunteers served hundreds of sandwiches to residents, shopkeepers, first responders, utility workers and city employees from Dallas and Richardson and neighboring communities such as Balch Springs, McKinney and Lewisville.

Spiritual conversations also occurred, including with Muslim shopkeepers in the strip mall.

Roark recalled one young lady who approached, distraught.

“Can we pray?” Roark asked her.

“Yes,” she replied.

Roark found herself saying things in the prayer she would not typically say, asking God to reveal himself, exclaiming to God that he had dominion over everything.

“You know, I’m Muslim,” the girl said when they finished praying. “We believe in Jesus, but we believe he is a prophet,” she added.

“He is our Lord and Savior,” Roark responded. “He is the one who gives us hope.”

The two hugged afterward.

“I hugged ‘em all,” Roark said with a chuckle. “I’m a hugger.”

 The QR kitchens stood down Wednesday, Oct. 23, as recovery units geared up to assist victims, according to Wally Leyerle, SBTC DR associate.

“When the electricity comes back on, the demand for our QR kitchens decreases quickly,” SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice said of the typically short deployment that offered both immediate help and eternal promise.

God’s Glory in Our Unity

God is glorified when the church is unified. There is no more formidable force to push back darkness than a holy community sharing one mind, looking in the same direction, and possessing a singular mission. The opportunities and outcomes for a church like this are limitless. The same is true for a convention of churches.

Biblically Based
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is poised for another exciting annual meeting. What will make this gathering special is the unity our convention of churches enjoy. While our congregations take all shapes, shades, and sizes, all 2,700 must agree doctrinally that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Scripture is the natural starting point for our cooperation, for what we believe about the Bible will shape our focus and our mission. But our confession concerning the Word of God is not the final agreement, it is the first. As Southern Baptists, we share a faith statement that is broadly narrow. These core tenets of what we believe are found in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and function in a way that allows us to agree theologically so that we can agree to cooperate together missiologically. While not every state convention or even our national convention requires their churches to affirm this faith document, the churches of the SBTC stand stronger together because we all uphold shared biblical values. As we embrace a mutual faith, we have a greater opportunity to look in the same direction, sharing the same focus.

Kingdom Focused
The kingdom of God is the reign and rule of God that has come in the person of Christ. We do not build His kingdom, but we do proclaim it and see it advance within our world. The church celebrates the arrival of the kingdom, as each congregation represents an outpost of heaven on earth. But the church also focuses on the movement of the kingdom, knowing that the King of the kingdom will one day come and bring His kingdom in full. It is this hope that compels us to take this good news to our homes, communities, state, country, and world. Around our state we are hearing stories of revitalization, reports of baptisms, and an army of people taking the Gospel to their “one.” This is the fruit of a unified effort. The effort is not just from our local churches, but also from the unified energy of our convention of churches focused on kingdom work. Our unified focus will be seen as unified worship when we come together at our annual meeting and celebrate the kingdom victories we are enjoying as a convention. As we focus on the kingdom together, we are able to encourage one another to be missionally driven.

Missionally Driven
“Who’s Your One?” has been a tremendous tool for our churches to be on mission. This call to commit to sharing the Gospel with one person has seen a response from churches in our national convention, and has also been productive in our state convention. Many churches are seeing a spike in baptisms as they participated in the recent, “baptism Sunday.” This concerted effort is not just possible due to the vision of key leaders, but also because of the commitment our churches have to the cooperative program. As we give through this missional pipeline, we are able to fund innovative evangelism and discipleship resources, our 6 seminaries, our 3,700 missionaries, our church planters in Texas and throughout the country, and so much more. Due to our unified effort, we are able to accomplish more together than we could apart. As a result, more people are hearing the Gospel, more churches are being planted, more disciples are being made, and more missionaries are being sent. Such news is sure to fill our annual meeting with a holy energy that will compel us to worship and glorify our God, Who is able to do incredible things through His unified people.

As we look forward to our annual meeting, we will have the privilege of joining our partnering churches to affirm our confessional commitment to the inerrant Word of God, celebrate the kingdom advancement we are seeing within our congregations, and be encouraged by the fruit of our mission as we cooperate together to see the Gospel go to the ends of the earth. So make plans to join us in Odessa as we come together unified for the glory of God.

Greenway pledges to lead “one Southwestern” in inaugural address

In his address to The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary community, President Adam W. Greenway pledged to lead “one Southwestern” from four “vantage points”: institutionally, denominationally, relationally, and ultimately during Oct. 21 inauguration ceremonies to mark his election as the seminary’s ninth president earlier this year.

Appealing often to the founding president of the institution, B.H. Carroll, Greenway anchored his message in the seminary’s history, while also acknowledging recent missteps and offering an apology “for any way in which we have fallen short.”

With Ephesians 4:1-6 as the basis of his message, Greenway said that although the ceremony was for the purpose of the inauguration of a new president and to “celebrate” the “storied institution,” he asserted the first purpose of the gathering was to “worship our great God, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the reason we are here, and he is the hero of the story tonight.”


In marking one Southwestern institutionally, Greenway quoted Carroll’s address to the first graduating class in 1908: “You well know what I regard as the crowning mission of my life; what to me is more than life, and that is to see The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary established on such a basis as will insure perpetuity and place it among the greatest training schools for preachers in this world.”

Although a “theological university” that exists to unite academic disciplines, Greenway said the more than 111-year-history of the seminary, its breadth and depth of academic program, and 200-acre campus “can provoke, at times, separation and division, rather than unity.”

Greenway confessed his own error as a master of divinity student arriving at the seminary in 1999 believing that his studies in the school of theology were of greater importance than those of students in the two other “lesser schools.”

God, “in his kindness,” Greenway admitted, corrected that error by bringing into his life Carla Peppers, who was a student in the educational ministries school and would later become his wife. The Lord used Carla “to remind me it wasn’t just what happened in the school of theology that mattered at Southwestern Seminary. Every program, every school had a unique part to play in making Southwestern Seminary everything God called our seminary to be.”

Noting the “real key” to Southwestern Seminary is its people—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—Greenway said, “Southwestern Seminary must never be allowed to be defined primarily as a monument, a museum, or a mausoleum; but must always be known as an institution defined by the movement of the Spirit of God, the ministry of equipping God-called men and women for kingdom service, and the mission of connecting all people to Jesus Christ.”

He added, “We are one Southwestern. Whatever school you may be in, whatever class you graduated in, whatever president may have signed your diploma, we are one Southwestern family.”


Greenway said the denominational vantage point of a one Southwestern is seen in the founding of the seminary, both in its doctrinal commitments and even the naming of its first streets on the Fort Worth campus.

The founding documents of the seminary required, he noted, that faculty “subscribe” to the articles of faith, the New Hampshire Confession of Faith. Later, each iteration of the Baptist Faith and Message has been affirmed by subsequent members of the faculty.

The seminary has “stood in lockstep solidarity” with the SBC, clearly confessing “this we believe,” without hesitation or reservation, he said. “We have always been a seminary that has been trusted to teach the truth.”

Greenway affirmed the common cause of theological education shared by all six Southern Baptist seminaries, although they are at times as competitive as Southeastern Conference college football rivalries.

“But when we’re at our best, we’re together in the task,” he said.

Illustrating the special connection between Southwestern Seminary and Southern Seminary, Greenway quoted a 1909 letter from L.R. Scarborough, then an evangelism professor at Southwestern, to A.T. Robertson, New Testament Greek professor at Southern, which included a map of the new campus. Scarborough noted that Southwestern Seminary’s campus would be bordered by streets named for Southern Seminary’s founding president, James P. Boyce, and second president, John A. Broadus.

Scarborough said the naming of the streets would be a “constant reminder to all the world that our two seminaries are linked together in a great task with a holy fellowship. I think the thought to do this thing was of the Lord and will help us in some way to carry on together the great work started by these two noble Baptist heroes.”

Calling Southern Seminary and Southwestern Seminary the Harvard and Yale, respectively, of the Southern Baptist Convention, Greenway added, “We stand in this task as one Southwestern in solidarity with our sister seminaries and our sister entities in the great task that God has given to the Southern Baptist Convention of churches. And we must not allow ourselves to be in the position of trying to pit and to position one seminary against another for crass political purposes.”


Greenway said 40 years ago this year, the new British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, commenting upon her election to the press “amidst a backdrop of turmoil and strife,” quoted Saint Francis of Assisi: “Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.”

The new Southwestern president said the quote “resonates well with our inaugural moment together tonight,” in introducing the relational vantage point of a one Southwestern.

“At Southwestern Seminary and Scarborough College, I want us to never waiver from hope—real hope; hope that can only be found in the life-changing gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Greenway noted the special relationship between Southwestern and Texas Southern Baptists in how they often refer to the school as “‘our seminary’ because the ties to Southwestern are real and they go deep. That means when Southwestern Seminary is at our best, the ties that bind are unbreakable. That means when Southwestern Seminary is not at our best, the wounds go far deeper.”

Noting that he was born the year the seminary’s sixth president, Russell H. Dilday Jr., was elected, Greenway said, “In this inauguration ceremony, the torch is being passed to a new generation. I cannot change the past. And I know at times our seminary in the past has not always been a place that has brought about the kind of hope and healing and unity that ought to characterize the New Testament people of God. For any way in which we have fallen short, I’m sorry, and I apologize.”

He also pledged “as president to do everything in my power to help Southwestern Seminary relationally be right: in right fellowship, right relationship with all who find alignment with what I call that ‘big-tent’ vision,” which he articulated upon his election.

Believing the vision “represents the heart of B.H. Carroll himself: that high view of Scripture, confessional fidelity, the Great Commission, and cooperation,” Greenway said, “If you find yourself in alignment with these things, we welcome you home to Southwestern.”

Asserting that agreement on “every nonessential point” is not necessary to “cooperate and work together,” he said, “it is time, I believe, for the Southwestern family to come together.”

Greenway pledged that the seminary exists to serve the churches, not vice versa. “Across the generations, wherever you may serve, I want you to know that this president cares for you.”

He added, “It’s important for me to prioritize right relationships. If I might be so bold to say, I believe ministry is first and foremost about relationships. The rest is just details. Details matter, but relationships are priority.”


“Why one Southwestern? Why am I so committed to this theme? Why do I want to give all of my time and energy to that? Ultimately for me, it is because there is only one Southwestern,” Greenway said introducing the final vantage point.

“The mother seminary of Texas Baptists, the ‘crown jewel’ seminary of Southern Baptists, the institution to which I owe my marriage and my family, along with whatever success the Lord has allowed me to experience thus far in my ministry. And as one for whom Southwestern Seminary is not only alma mater, but truly magna mater,” he said.

“It is my prayer that the Lord will grant me the wisdom of mind, the health of body, the strength of spirit, and the longevity of tenure as president to see Southwestern Seminary once again lead in every right way for the cause of Christ, the church, our convention, and his kingdom.”

Greenway cited Carroll’s dying charge to his successor, Scarborough, in 1914: “My greatest concern is not for myself. My spiritual horizon is cloudless. But my deep concern is about the seminary. Your life will be given largely to it. It is an institution born in the prayer of faith and the faith of prayer. You will need faith and prayer ahead.”

“Tonight, I pledge to you and to our Lord, my faith,” Greenway concluded. “And I ask you to please keep me, my family, our administration, our faculty, our staff, our students, our trustees in your prayers. May God find us faithful and make us fruitful in all things. May God truly bind us together as one Southwestern.”

Disaster Relief prepares to respond to Dallas tornado

DALLAS — Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief units are on alert and preparing to assist victims of a tornado that touched down in north Dallas on Sunday evening. The tornado left more than 100,000 people without power.

The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado touched down around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

SBTC DR Quick Response feeding units have been activated to help provide meals for victims and first responders.

SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice confirmed he and his staff are working closely with local officials in assessing the damage and responding to the relief efforts.

“We will move recovery and quick response units to alert. We have one QRU unit at standby,” Stice said. As Monday progresses, he added, DR will be monitoring the situation to assess specific needs. An investigation is underway to determine whether any SBTC church buildings were affected by the tornado.