Southern Seminary trustees install Gaines to visiting professorship, elect 3 faculty
Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously approved all recommendations in the board’s April 10 meeting, including the installation of Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines to a visiting professorship honoring former SBC President Herschel H. Hobbs. The board also approved an expanded budget for the 2017-2018 academic year and elected three faculty members.
The trustees established the Herschel H. Hobbs Visiting Professor of Christian Preaching to honor the life and legacy of Hobbs, a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary. Hobbs was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1961-1963, served as chairman of the committee that revised the Baptist Faith and Message in 1963, and pastored several SBC churches.
“One of my encouragers all along the way was Dr. Herschel Hobbs — he was so committed to this institution, so committed to Southern Baptists,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. to trustees during the meeting. “Very regularly we will have a visiting professor in his name come to this campus in order to educate students and honor Dr. Hobbs.”
Gaines, installed as the inaugural Herschel H. Hobbs Visiting Professor of Christian Preaching, has served as the senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, since 2005. He earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Gaines wrote his dissertation on Hobbs and his preaching on "The Baptist Hour." Gaines opened the plenary session with a devotional message.
“With the job that Dr. Mohler and all the staff do, it’s no surprise that everything went well this week. I was especially excited to see the Herschel Hobbs professorship begun,” said Board Chairman John Thweatt, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pell City, Alabama, and president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. “These meetings are vital to the convention, as we maintain accountability to the school and make sure we continue in the right direction. I’m coming close to end of my term, and when we left the luncheon today noticed a couple trustees with tears in their eyes. There’s something special about developing these friendships.”
The board approved the Financial Board’s recommendation to increase the budget from $48.04 million the previous academic year to $51.6 million in 2017-2018, an increase of 7.5 percent.
The board also elected to the faculty R. Scott Connell, assistant professor of music and worship leadership at Boyce College; Brian Payne, associate professor of Christian theology and church ministry and expository preaching at Boyce; and Charles T. Lewis, assistant professor of church music and worship at Southern Seminary. These elections will go into effect Aug. 1.
Before joining the faculty at Boyce, Connell had 25 years of pastoral experience in the local church in numerous roles, including as a worship pastor, youth pastor, and senior pastor. Connell has previous experience teaching music in public and private education at all grade levels and has taught at Boyce since 2010.
Payne joined the faculty of Boyce College and Southern Seminary in 2006. After attending college at the University of Alabama, where he also played football for four years, and working in the business world, Payne earned three degrees from Southern Seminary and pastored in Lebanon, Ohio.
Lewis was the worship pastor at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, and previously served as adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University before joining Southern Seminary in 2011. He currently serves as director of Doxology, Southern Seminary’s vocal ensemble.
“Once again, I can only express appreciation for Southern Seminary’s Board of Trustees," Mohler said in a statement. "These are incredibly committed men and women who give sacrificially of their time to serve Southern Baptists in this important role. Our Board of Trustees holds Southern Seminary in trust on behalf of all the church of the Southern Baptist Convention. This is a vital stewardship, and this Board of Trustees fulfills that responsibility exceedingly well.”
In other matters:
— The board also recognized six outgoing trustees whose terms of service end in 2017: Schanon Caudle, from Arkansas; Mike King, from Tennessee; Randy Kuhn, from Florida; Pusey Losch, from Pennsylvania; Mike Mericle, from Texas; and Archie Stephens, from Arizona. Also recognized for his service to the board was Scott Pruitt, who joined the board in 2012 when he was attorney general of the state of Oklahoma. He has recently taken office as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the most senior posts in the Trump administration.
— Trustees also noted that two board members are currently presidents of their state conventions: Board Chairman John Thweatt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pell City, Alabama, as president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention; and Joe Ligon, pastor of First Baptist Church, Marlow, Oklahoma, as president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.