SEBTS” Strickland to be 1st VP nominee

PHOENIX  Walter Strickland, a leader of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Kingdom Diversity Initiative, will be nominated for Southern Baptist Convention first vice president, former SBC President James Merritt announced May 9.

Strickland, an African-American, has been special adviser to the president for diversity at Southeastern since 2013. He also teaches theology at Southeastern and since 2015 has operated a consulting service to assist churches and other organizations with diversity-related issues.

Southeastern’s Kingdom Diversity Initiative seeks in increase the seminary’s ethnic minority and female enrollment and equip students for multicultural ministry.

“As our nation and our convention become more diverse, it is imperative that our leadership reflect the diversity that marks the kingdom of God and heaven itself,” Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., said in a news release. “Beyond that we need people in leadership that reflect the best of Southern Baptists theologically, spiritually and personally.

During Strickland’s tenure at Southeastern, non-Anglo students have increased from 10 percent of the student body to 16 percent, according to Merritt’s release. During that time, the number of African-American students has doubled and the number of Hispanic students has tripled, Merritt said.

Merritt said Strickland also has worked to “strengthen partnerships with diverse churches and ministries,” facilitate campus conversations on racial and cultural issues and launch a program to offer financial assistance to minority students for mission trips.

Strickland is a member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., which told Baptist Press it gave $88,234 in Great Commission Giving for 2016. 

Strickland holds Master of Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Southeastern and a Bachelor of Arts from Cedarville University in Ohio. He is scheduled to graduate this spring with his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Author of the forthcoming book The Story of Black Christianity, Strickland has coauthored, edited and contributed to numerous other volumes. He has served on staff at two North Carolina churches.

Strickland was the first and only announced candidate for first vice president at time of publishing. 

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