Southern Seminary professors receive endowed chairs
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary installed seven faculty members to endowed chairs during the fall 2014 semester. Each of the chairs “has a story,” said President R. Albert Mohler Jr., “one that is integral to the history of the seminary and to Southern Baptists and to the larger evangelical world.”
At the final installation ceremony Nov. 11, Mohler emphasized the “significant honor” of the event because professors are elected to an endowed chair by vote of the board of trustees. “Endowed chairs are the means whereby people who are committed to the institution make that commitment clear by providing not just current funding, but the permanent funding of an instructional position,” he said.
J. Scott Bridger was installed as Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, the most recent chair in the seminary’s history. The chair was made possible by a “very timely and powerful gift” from Bill and Connie Jenkins, Mohler said, fueled by their “concern that students at Southern Seminary be thoroughly equipped in the knowledge of the challenge of Islam for the coming generation.”
The couple also funded the seminary’s Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam, which opened in February 2014. Mohler referenced a recent statement from Pope Francis, in which he challenged Catholic seminaries to take the Muslim challenge seriously. Mohler said that “friends of Southern Seminary have helped us to do that already.”
The seminary installed Michael S. Wilder as the J.M. Frost Associate Professor of Leadership and Discipleship. Frost, a “man with a deep passion for the teaching of God’s Word and the dissemination of worthy literature” was a “human instrument for the creation of what became the Baptist Sunday School Board — now LifeWay Christian Resources.”
Timothy Paul Jones was installed as C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Christian Family Ministry. Mohler said that the Gheens, a Louisville native, had been “one of the prime benefactors of Southern Seminary” after the school moved to Louisville in 1877.
Earlier in the fall semester, Bruce A. Ware was installed as T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology. T. Rupert Coleman, a student under famous New Testament professor A.T. Robertson, graduated with a Ph.D. from Southern Seminary. In 1968, Coleman baptized a nine-year-old Mohler. “I heard the message of salvation preached through T. Rupert Coleman,” Mohler said. Coleman was “the very model himself of a Christian scholar and a Christian minister.”
Other professors installed throughout the semester were Joseph R. Crider, as Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of Church Music and Worship; Peter J. Gentry, as Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation; and Adam W. Greenway, as William Walker Brookes Associate Professor of Evangelism and Applied Apologetics.