Celebrating 30 Years of Contending for the Faith: R. Albert Mohler, Jr.’s 30th Anniversary as President
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated R. Albert Mohler, Jr.’s 30th Anniversary as President this week. During the annual Heritage Week, a week combining visits from trustees, the Foundation Board, and friends of the seminary, Southern Seminary focused on celebrating all the Lord has accomplished through Dr. Mohler at Southern Seminary.
The Board of Trustees elected Mohler on March 26, 1993 and took office on August 1. A two-time graduate of Southern Seminary, Mohler returned to the school he loved after four years away as Editor of The Christian Index. Reflecting on first sensing the Lord might call him to the task of President Mohler, he said, "During my doctoral studies, I came to understand a sense of urgency about theological education, about the seminary, about the Southern Baptist Convention, the evangelical world.” Mohler continued, “I knew I wanted to be of service and scholarship to the church, and I intended to be a pastor in fulfilling that role. Becoming president was not primarily on my mind, but it became a focal calling when the opportunity arose.”
Throughout the celebratory events of the week, former students, trustees, and faculty members described the task Mohler faced when he became president and set about returning the institution to biblical fidelity and its confessional heritage. In 1993, students protested his arrival, stood with their backs to him when he preached in chapel, and even hung him in effigy during his opening convocation. In April 1995, the faculty delivered a report of no confidence to the Board of Trustees. Yet through it all, the Trustees of Southern Seminary affirmed their support of President Mohler, and he remained resolved in his commitment to do what was necessary to restore Southern to its founding commitments.
As hundreds gathered this week to celebrate the miraculous turnaround under Mohler's leadership, the hostility and tumult of the early years are replaced by joy and vitality. Under Mohler's leadership, Southern Seminary has experienced record enrollment, sent out over 15,000 graduates as ministers of the gospel, assembled a world-renowned faculty, formalized Boyce College as a traditional four-year college, and restored a God-glorifying joy to the campus. During this period, Mohler has demonstrated his leadership as President and statesman to the broader Southern Baptist Convention and as one who speaks with clarity to the moral and cultural issues facing Christians today.
“Trying to measure the impact that Albert Mohler has made at Southern Seminary would be like trying to measure the amount of water in the ocean with a tablespoon, said Joshua W. Powell, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.” His impact is inestimable. Every square inch of that campus has his imprint. Every classroom is full of his conviction. Every student is benefitted by his vision. One may not be able to truly measure his impact on Southern Seminary, but it is seen. It is seen everywhere in the world that one of the over 15,000 graduates during his presidency are teaching and preaching the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.”
Throughout the week, Mohler emphasized the critical role Mary Mohler has played in all of this. “God has been faithful to his promises and more. In ways that I can fully express, I could not have been here for three months, not to say thirty years, but for Mary Mohler.” Mohler then described his wife’s devotion both to himself and their family and then to the seminary family as well. “Mary is as called to this task as I am, and she is just as devoted and committed. Her great gifts and love for our students and their families are just incredible,” Mohler said. Her leadership is especially evident in the Seminary Wives Institute and in a campus ministry known as The Exchange.”
During the celebrations, both the Faculty and the Board of Trustees passed resolutions of Thanksgiving and Appreciation for R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and expressed their continued support of President Mohler. Paul M. Akin, Provost at Southern Seminary, said of the resolution, “I am so encouraged by the unanimous support of the resolution of gratitude and appreciation presented to Dr. Mohler by our faculty. This collection of men and women love Dr. Mohler, willingly follow his vision and leadership, and look forward with joyful anticipation to serving alongside of him for years to come.”
The celebrations allowed Trustees, Faculty, graduates, students, and supporters to express their deep appreciation for Dr. and Mrs. Mohler and their gratitude to the Lord for all he has done through them.
“My heart is full and overflowing,” said Mohler. He continued: “I have spent my adult life in the service of Southern Seminary and I would do it again and again. God has so greatly blessed this work, including Boyce College. Just being on this campus underlines the gracious providence of God. Our only proper response is to make sure our gratitude to God is translated into even greater faithfulness in the future. We have good work to do, and we will get to it with joy.”