ST. LOUIS, Mo. (SBTS) — R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary presented the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award to Russell D. Moore at the seminary’s June 15 alumni luncheon during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
“Russ Moore has already made history and there is much history still to be written. He has madeSouthern Seminary proud in so many different ways,” said Mohler, who also presented Moore a commemorative plaque. “It is high time that we make this presentation and celebrate Russ Moore as Alumnus of the Year of the institution very proud to claim him as our own.”
Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC and SBTS Ph.D. graduate (2002), also formerly served as professor of Christian theology, dean of the School of Theology, and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Seminary.
“This school didn’t just educate me,” Moore said. “I look around this room, the best friends in the world that we have, I look at students that I love. I look at a place where, when we arrived home with our first two children, there was a parking lot full of people waiting for us ... I can’t thank Southern Seminary enough for being our family.”
In his annual presentation to alumni and friends, Mohler called for increased boldness for the challenges facing Southern Seminary. Using Acts 4:23 as his text — in which the disciples react to their bold proclamation of the gospel before the Sanhedrin by praying for more boldness — Mohler said more is required of the seminary as it looks to the future.
"I think there’s the temptation for us to simply be thankful for how bold the Lord has allowed us this school to be,” Mohler said. “But what we really pray for is that the Lord would make us even more bold, because what will be required of us in the future is even far greater than what has been required in the past ... Everything we’ve done thus far — sweet and precious and instructive as it is — is just, by God’s grace, a foretaste of what’s to come.”
Mohler referenced a resolution that had passed the previous afternoon at the SBC annual meeting, which renounced the display of the Confederate battle flag. He said it was a necessary but preliminary step in addressing the sins of previous generations of Southern Baptists, and that the seminary will require greater boldness to address continued issues of racial tension within the church.
“The burdens of history and the mandate invested in us has to be always on our mind,” Mohler said. “The great failure of the Southern Baptist Convention and the great failure of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is exemplified and realized in nothing more powerful than our failure to our African-American brothers and sisters through more than a century-and-a-half. I’m humbled by the fact that I think this is a permanent stain that the Southern Baptist Convention will have to bear as a mark, just to prevent us from the temptation of denominational hubris.”
Mohler also discussed the seminary’s recently launched Hispanic Initiatives, which seeks to reach the Spanish-speaking world with theological education. The program, which is part of a movement to cultivate diversity in the seminary community, includes the hiring of two Latino professors and the availability of Spanish online courses at a reduced cost.
“With every passing day and every passing year, the Southern Baptist Convention has to look more like the nation, more like the world, more like the marriage supper of the Lamb — or we’re going to look less like Jesus.”
Mohler also recognized the June 10 announcement that Matthew Hall would be the next dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary, which has grown an enrollment of 1,200 students.
The more than 450 attendees of the luncheon also received a copy of the "President's Report," a publication providing a summary of the 2015-16 academic year.