Sibley named director of Pasche Institute for Jewish Studies

DALLAS?Criswell College has selected the leading Southern Baptist expert on Jewish ministry to direct the Pasche Institute for Jewish Studies. In its March 4 meeting, the board welcomed President Jerry Johnson’s recommendation that Jim Sibley be named the full-time director of the institute that he described as “part of who we are and who Dr. W.A. Criswell was.”

With the reorganization of the North American Mission Board’s evangelization division, Sibley’s decade-long service as a national missionary directing Jewish ministries recently ended, freeing him to consider the leadership post of the Pasche Institute beyond his interim status.

Johnson projected a “long-term, deep-rooted commitment to this ministry” based on the school’s theological convictions, philosophy of ministry and biblical foundation.

The Pasche Institute was formed in 2004 as a part of Criswell College to train Christians in Jewish ministry, offering the only such accredited master’s degree program. A flexible schedule of semester and intensive courses attracts undergraduate and master’s level students. A special collection of Jewish resources is being assembled in the college’s library, featuring rare books and research tools. The institute is named for the late Albert and Dorothy Pasche of Dallas, early supporters of Criswell Bible Institute and Jewish ministries.

Through the broader assignment at Criswell College and continued workshops on behalf of the North American Mission Board, Sibley anticipates an even greater focus on the needs in Jewish ministry. Southern Baptists have a long history of reaching out to Jewish people in America, he observed.

“By whatever means, I want to try to stimulate Southern Baptists to share the gospel with Jewish people. It has been a real privilege to work in Jewish ministry at NAMB for the past 10 years and I’m grateful for the commitments that NAMB has exhibited in reaching our country for Christ.”

NAMB vice president for evangelization, John Avant, congratulated the college where he once taught for making the commitment to Jewish ministry.

“We rejoice with Criswell College at this exciting announcement,” Avant told Baptist Press. “We are so very thankful for Jim Sibley’s unique blend of training, experience, calling and passion which have allowed him to make such great contributions over the years to Jewish ministries.”

Avant said NAMB’s intention “at this time is not to attempt to replace Jim, but to continue to use him on a contract basis to assist NAMB and our mission partners to better understand and share our faith with Jews throughout North America.”

Sibley is a frequent speaker on seminary campuses in such conferences and will teach a fall class on Jewish evangelism at Criswell College. Last year he led a mission trip to the Jewish communities of New York City. This summer he will return to Israel where he and his wife, Kathy, served as Southern Baptist missionaries for nearly 14 years.

In the past decade Sibley, more than any other Southern Baptist, has been the foremost spokesman for evangelicals and Southern Baptists in attempting to explain Jewish outreach.

Recent misrepresentations of views advocating dual covenant theology in a March 1 front page Jerusalem Post article demonstrated how evangelicals are misunderstood regarding the salvation of Jews.

When Southern Baptists were asked by their domestic mission board to pray specifically for the evangelization of Jews, Sibley fielded media inquiries to clarify the denominational emphasis.

“There was a great deal of concern when it was claimed by the secular media that Southern Baptists were targeting the Jewish people, but in reality what we are presenting is a way that we can share the gospel with the Jewish people with sensitivity and understanding so that the love of Christ can be communicated and so we can relate to the Jewish people as individuals and friends rather than as objects of a c

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