Mohler honored by trustees on 20th anniversary as Southern Seminary president
Twenty years to the day after his inauguration as ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the school’s board of trustees honored R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his leadership in recovering the founders’ vision for the school and its progress since 1993.
During an Oct. 15 chapel service, trustee chairman E. Todd Fisher read a resolution of “thanksgiving and appreciation,” unanimously adopted during the Oct. 14-15 semi-annual meeting, that traces Mohler’s stewardship of the seminary through two decades. The statement expresses “profound gratefulness” for Mohler’s “faithfulness” to restore the school, which was a key concern of grassroots Southern Baptists resulting in the “Conservative Resurgence” in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination during the 1980s and 1990s.
Fisher, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, Okla., read from 2 Timothy 4:1-5, a passage “very fitting” for the occasion, he said. Addressing Mohler, Fisher said, “Thank you so much for all you’ve done for this seminary and the kingdom of God.”
A framed copy of the resolution was presented to Mohler and his wife, Mary, who were greeted by a lengthy standing ovation by the filled-to-capacity audience in Alumni Memorial Chapel.
In response, Mohler told the seminary community the recognition is “humbling” for himself and Mary. “And what an incredibly moving day,” he said.
Saying he did not want to “linger” on the matter, but reflecting on his inauguration ceremony in the same building 20 years to the day before, Mohler said, “We had no assurance that we would be here 20 years hereafter. Matter of fact, we had no assurance that this seminary would be here 20 years thereafter.”
He said, “This is the seminary that God has built and what a joy it is to be able to reflect upon that.”
Noting 20 years is a “significant period of life,” Mohler said, “I think in many ways those were the most strategically invested years of my life and I want you to know that I would do nothing other with them if ever I were asked or given the alternative. There is no alternative history I would choose here. This is it. And for that I am unspeakably grateful.”
Mohler then preached on the theology of gratitude in a sermon entitled, “What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive? Gratitude and Christian Discipleship,” from 1 Corinthians 4:1-7. [Story available, here.]
Following chapel, a reception for the president and his family, attended by students, faculty and staff, was held in Duke K. McCall Sesquicentennial Pavilion.
The trustee resolution notes that Southern is now one of the largest seminaries in the world, with the largest enrollment of master of divinity students in any seminary. According to the Association of Theological Schools, in 2012-2013, Southern had a total enrollment of 4,366, compared to 2,858 in 1993, making it the second-largest ATS-accredited school.
The resolution also notes academic, financial and campus facilities improvements under Mohler, and expresses “unqualified support” for the president’s recent reaffirmations of his vision for the school during the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and his August convocation address, “Don’t Just Stand There – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble.”
Noting Mary Mohler “modeled grace, humility and steadfast allegiance … during times of severe opposition” and “personal attacks,” trustees also offered “profound gratitude to Mary Mohler, Katie Mohler Barnes and Christopher Mohler for their irreplaceable devotion and incomparable assistance to Dr. Mohler as he has led Southern Seminary for the last 20 years.”
Trustees requested copies of the resolution be sent to SBC President Fred Luter and Executive Committee President Frank Page “with encouragement that it be shared with the wider Southern Baptist family so that all may join us in celebrating this important milestone in the ministry of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
[The entire text of the resolution follows at the end of this story.]
During an Oct. 15 banquet for trustees, faculty and friends of the seminary, Fisher presented to Mohler a trustee approved “twelve-month study leave” to be “allocated and used at his discretion by Dec. 31, 2018.”
In other actions during the trustee meeting, the board received reports from its committees and unanimously:
-- approved sabbatical leaves for Heath Lambert, associate professor of biblical counseling; and Mark A. Seifrid, Earnest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation;
-- amended the trustee bylaws in two sections: (1) to reduce the number of standing school committees to three, reflecting the April trustee-approved merger of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism with the former School of Church Ministries, resulting in the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministries; and (2) to allow flexibility in scheduling of the semi-annual meetings of the board of trustees;
-- moved the spring trustee meeting to April 14-16, 2014, in light of the date of Easter;
-- approved a policy for the Faculty and Staff Handbook and Student Handbook on “Sex, Sexuality and Gender Identity” stating the seminary’s biblically based positions on these matters; and
-- approved a response to a motion made at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting concerning mental health summarizing the seminary’s role in training pastors and counselors on the matter, while deferring to a prospective recommendation from the Executive Committee for further reporting.
The board also received a report from its Executive Committee on the election of seven members of the Southern Seminary Foundation Board.
In recognition of Mohler’s anniversary milestone, the seminary released, Oct. 15, several resources.
A special fall edition of the Southern Seminary Magazine, the quarterly publication of the school, includes articles reporting on the seminary’s progress since 1993, Mohler’s role as a denominational statesman and innovative communicator and Mary Mohler’s leadership of the Seminary Wives Institute.
A special October edition of Towers, the campus news magazine, includes a profile of Mohler, based on an extensive interview with him, and a photo essay of a day in the life of Mohler on Aug. 20, 2013.
James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor and chief spokesman at Southern Seminary. Following is the full text of the resolution marking R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s 20th anniversary as president of Southern Seminary unanimously adopted by the school’s board of trustees in its Oct. 14-15 semi-annual meeting.
Resolution of Thanksgiving and Appreciation for R. Albert Mohler Jr. on the Occasion of His Twentieth Anniversary as President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Whereas, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. was elected ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by the Board of Trustees on March 26, 1993; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler was inaugurated as president of Southern Seminary on October 15, 1993; and
Whereas, before his election as president, Dr. Mohler had previously served as an administrator and was a distinguished Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy graduate of Southern Seminary; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler’s profound affection for Southern Seminary is evidenced by his deep knowledge of the history of the institution and his stewardship of the school as president for the last 20 years; and
Whereas, upon taking office, Dr. Mohler immediately commenced the implementation of his vision to restore Southern Seminary to the Founders’ commitment of a confessional school based on fidelity to Scripture and The Abstract of Principles, grounded in a steadfast allegiance to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and its confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler eloquently expressed his vision to restore Southern Seminary in his first Convocation Address, “Don’t Just Do Something: Stand There!”, delivered to the seminary community on August 31, 1993; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler unwaveringly withstood vehement opposition and sometimes deeply personal attacks upon himself and family by elements of the faculty, alumni and others in the Southern Baptist Convention determined to see his vision unfulfilled; and
Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler was able to recruit faculty with both the highest academic credentials and deepest Gospel ministry commitments, resulting in the finest collection of evangelical scholars in the world; and
Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler’s convictional leadership has attracted outstanding students from across the nation and around the world seeking Gospel ministry training, resulting in one of the world’s largest seminary student bodies and the largest number of Master of Divinity students in any seminary; and
Whereas, because of his commitment to restore a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler’s management has resulted in a financially sound institution with a budget more than twice as large, an endowment more than thirty million dollars larger, and campus facilities that are well-maintained, improving and expanding; and
Whereas consistent with his commitment to restoring a confessional seminary based on the total truthfulness of God’s Word, Dr. Mohler has led in the development of new academic programs – including the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry and Boyce College – to better equip ministers to serve more faithfully the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention; and
Whereas, even while leading the recovery of Southern Seminary, Dr. Mohler has played a strategic role of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention as longtime president of the Council of Seminary Presidents; by service on key SBC task forces and committees, including the Presidential Theological Study Committee (1994), Program and Structure Study Committee (1995), Baptist Faith and Message study committees (1998, 2000), the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (2010), and the Calvinism Advisory Committee (2013); and by delivering the Convention Sermon in 1995; and
Whereas, in addition to his seminary and denominational leadership, Dr. Mohler is widely admired as an innovative communicator of evangelical convictions to the broader American society through his extensive writing ministry; multi-media platforms; as a frequent commentator on theological, moral and social issues in the nation’s most prominent newspapers, magazines, network and cable television news programs; and in many other venues; and
Whereas, because of Dr. Mohler’s personal investment in students, faculty and administrators, key leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and the broader evangelical world have been drawn from among those most closely associated with Dr. Mohler during his 20-year tenure at Southern Seminary; and
Whereas, Mary Mohler, Dr. Mohler’s wife and ministry partner since 1983, has made an incalculable investment in Southern Seminary through her founding in 1997 of the Seminary Wives Institute, training nearly 2,500 wives of students to better equip women for their unique roles as ministry partners to their husbands; and
Whereas, Mary Mohler modeled grace, humility and steadfast allegiance, standing by and supporting Dr. Mohler during times of severe opposition, even sometimes when she and their children, Katie and Christopher, were the subjects of personal attacks; and
Whereas, the seminary community has watched as Katie and Christopher have grown from young children to young adults, and the Mohlers have been blessed this year with the marriage of Katie to Riley Barnes, while Christopher continues his studies at Boyce College; and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler reaffirmed his vision for the seminary in a report to messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston this year: “I want to stand before you now twenty years later and say that those commitments are not fulfilled; they are here reaffirmed, as we move forward in an age unprecedented to do what the Lord Jesus Christ would have us to do;” and
Whereas, Dr. Mohler cast his vision for the coming decade at Southern Seminary in his twentieth anniversary Convocation Address, “Don’t Just Stand There – Say Something: The Sin of Silence in a Time of Trouble,” delivered on August 20, 2013.
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the Board of Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, October 14-15, 2013, express our thanks to God for His kind providence in leading our predecessor trustees to elect Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. as ninth president of this institution; and
Resolved, that we give our thanks to God for blessing Dr. Mohler uniquely with the requisite spiritual gifts, insight, intelligence and character to provide the convictional leadership that was necessary to restore Southern Seminary to its Founders’ vision; and
Resolved, that we congratulate Dr. Mohler on his twentieth anniversary as president of Southern Seminary, with great hopefulness that God will continue to grant him health and perseverance to lead the school for many more years; and
Resolved, that we express our profound gratitude to Dr. Mohler for his faithfulness to his vision to restore The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as a school committed to the total truthfulness of God’s Word and fidelity to the institution’s founding confession of faith, The Abstract of Principles, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message; and
Resolved, that we express our unqualified support for Dr. Mohler’s reaffirmation of his vision for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as an institution committed to the total truthfulness of God’s Word and fidelity to its confessional statements, The Abstract of Principles and The Baptist Faith and Message; and
Resolved, that we give thanks to God for trustees, faculty, students, administrators, friends of the seminary and others who played key roles throughout the last 20 years in providing support to Dr. Mohler as he led the restoration of Southern Seminary to the Founders’ vision; and
Resolved, that we extend our profound gratitude to Mary Mohler, Katie Mohler Barnes, and Christopher Mohler for their irreplaceable devotion and incomparable assistance to Dr. Mohler as he has led Southern Seminary for the last 20 years; and
Resolved, that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees send a copy of this resolution to Dr. Fred Luter Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Dr. Frank Page, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, with greetings from this Board and with encouragement that it be shared with the wider Southern Baptist family so that all may join us in celebrating this important milestone in the ministry of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. and history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.