Rick Lance receives E.Y. Mullins Award; Jason K. Allen named alumnus of the year
As several hundred alumni and friends gathered in Phoenix June June 13-14 for the Southern Baptist Convention, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. presented two major awards and a report on the seminary at the school’s annual reunion luncheon, June 14.
Rick Lance presented E.Y. Mullins Award for Distinguished Denominational Leadership
Mohler presented the E.Y. Mullins Award for Distinguished Denominational Leadership to Lance, who is executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention.
This represents the first time the seminary has issued the E.Y. Mullins Award, the highest honor bestowed by the seminary, since LifeWay president Thom Rainer received it in 2014. Previously, the seminary honored denominational giants Paige Patterson (2001) and James T. Draper (1998). Mullins, the fourth president of the Southern Seminary, exerted massive influence within the SBC, including serving as president of the Convention, president of Baptist World Alliance, and chairman of the committee that introduced the denomination's confession of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message. Mullins, who Mohler called “the most well-respected Baptist theologian of his generation,” also helped shape what became the Cooperative Program.
When he presented the award to Lance, who pastored multiple churches in Alabama before assuming leadership of the state’s Baptist convention, Mohler described why Lance's career is significant. The award notes Lance’s “example of commitment” to the Southern Baptist Convention and its work, and his long commitment to pastoral ministry and theological conviction.
Mohler highlighted the seminary’s gratitude for the generosity of Alabama Baptists through the Cooperative Program. Alabama Baptists, Mohler explained, own a long history of supporting Southern Seminary. In fact, the largest single donor to the seminary in its history is the Alabama Baptist Convention, according to Mohler. He also expressed his personal gratitude for Alabama Baptists and the role they played in his own attending of Birmingham’s Samford University.
Jason K. Allen named Alumnus of the Year
In addition to the Mullins Award, Mohler presented Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, with Southern Seminary’s Alumnus of the Year Award. Allen is a two-time graduate of Southern (master of divinity, 2004; doctor of philosophy, 2011), and, according to Mohler, he “stood out from the very beginning.”
“We knew the Lord had some very big plans for Jason Allen,” Mohler said. “He came on staff in my office, and then vice president for institutional advancement. And just think about the last five years, when he became president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary — nothing less than what we might call a renaissance has taken place at Midwestern.”
Under Allen’s leadership, Midwestern Seminary has grown to record enrollment.
“It makes us proud that [Allen] is filling this role and fulfilling this responsibility so well” Mohler continued. “He has emerged as a statesman in Southern Baptist life. He is now one of my cherished colleagues as a seminary president in the Southern Baptist Convention, and it’s just right to recognize Dr. Allen as Alumnus of the Year of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the year 2017.”
In addition to the two awards, Mohler reported to alumni and guests that Southern Seminary’s enrollment now exceeds 5300 students on campus and online, including 2000 men in the master of divinity degree program — the largest collection of M.Div. students in the history of higher education. He told those gathered that the seminary this spring celebrated awarding its 2000th doctor of philosophy degree.
Mohler also recognized some distinguished guests at the luncheon, including pastors James Merritt, Al Jackson, and Matt Chandler, along with alumnus and current president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore.