The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has named Kody Gibson its new director of admissions as the institution heads into an academic year marked by historic enrollment numbers.
Gibson, 29, graduated from Southern Seminary with his M.Div. in 2012, and most recently served as the seminary’s associate director of admissions. He replaces Ben Dockery, who held the role since October 2012.
“Ben Dockery has done an outstanding job leading the admissions team and we are very thankful for his service. I am confident that Kody Gibson is the right leader for this strategic team at this time, and I am looking forward to seeing his influence in our admissions process,” said seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. “For Southern Seminary and Boyce College, admissions is a ministry, not a marketing program. Both of these fine Christian leaders embody that vision.”
Smoke rolled to the heavens as the bodies of devout Hindus burned upon pyres in a religious ceremony at one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. Family members circled their loved ones and stoked the flames before shoving the ashes off the riverbank into the Bagmati. Across the street from the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, six students from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary witnessed a religious ritual they believed reflected a “sobering” spiritual reality.
“I felt so brokenhearted for these people who have no hope after watching them burn the bodies of eight people who recently died, probably mirroring what they were experiencing in hell,” said Dennis McDaniel, a student member of the mission team that traveled to South Asia this summer.
Compelled by the display of hopelessness, McDaniel approached four holy men on the steps of the ancient Hindu temple to establish a connection that transcended cultures.
McDaniel, of Corydon, Indiana, was one of 45 students who served on short-term trips with the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization at Southern Seminary, which cultivates evangelism, missions and church planting across the world. Seven faculty-led teams comprised of Southern Seminary and Boyce College students spent two weeks on four different continents to reinforce the gospel work of alumni serving overseas.
Violence erupting in Iraq and Syria as the jihadist group ISIS declares an Islamic state is “annihilating Middle Eastern Christians,” said the director of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Sunni insurgent group sweeping across Iraq and Syria and taking control of its provinces announced June 29 that it established a caliphate, which is an Islamic state led by a religious and political leader — in this case, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The United Nations reports the death toll for the month of June in Iraq stands at 2,417.
“We need to raise our voices much louder on behalf of Middle Eastern Christian communities that have basically existed for 2,000 years,” said J. Scott Bridger, Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Seminary. “You have Christians in this whole area that are basically being exterminated.”
Christians, Shiite Muslims and Sunnis with more democratic ideologies are among the victims of indiscriminate violence ISIS has inflicted on those who disagree with their ambition to create an Islamic state. In June, ISIS released footage claiming to show the mass execution of 160 people.
In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot force Christian-owned businesses Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to its employees. Hobby Lobby claimed that the Affordable Care Act infringed on its religious liberty. A 5-4 majority of the high court agreed.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, released a statement Monday following the Supreme Court’s ruling. He later published an essay expanding on his statement on his website, www.AlbertMohler.com.
"This is a major victory for religious liberty and Christian conscience. It is not only a victory for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, but for the American people — especially as the key insight of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been so clearly confirmed," Mohler said.
"The major issue in this was and is religious liberty as today's decision makes very clear. The debate over contraception will continue, but the debate over religious liberty has been significantly strengthened and clarified by this landmark Supreme Court ruling."
Harriet and Johnny Carter came to Rehoboth Baptist Church in 1956. Upon joining, they found a growing, energetic community with hundreds of worshippers each weekend. And then-pastor Lester Buice was a decade into what would become a 36-year ministry at the church.
A century earlier, Rehoboth, sitting about 10 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, Georgia, began in August of 1854, when a small group of people met in what is now Tucker, Georgia — immediately the church baptized 21 new members, including two slaves, and four more people joined, one of whom was a slave. From that group, the little mission church grew. By the peak of Buice’s pastorate in the 1970s, Rehoboth included nearly 5,000 members — up from 160 members when he arrived. And then in the 1980s and 1990s, Rehoboth even produced a nationally viewed TV ministry and operated the largest church-based sports ministry in the country.
Around the turn of the century, however, things changed. Rehoboth members called two consecutive pastors who they eventually forced to resign because of the theological and methodological directions toward which those men led. And people left.
Even some of the cornerstone-type members, like John Brown, who joined in 1965 and served for 29 years as chairman of the deacons, considered leaving.
“I prayed about leaving,” he told Southern Seminary Magazine. “When the last interim pastor started, my wife and I decided we were going to stay, but we’d see who they called as pastor. If [the church] wasn’t changed, we were leaving.”
Other long-time families like the Carters — along with hundreds of similar families — watched the church steadily decline.
Harold Mathena has “dabbled” in business throughout his life. For him, business has always been secondary to his desire to serve the Lord as a pastor and evangelist. Business was his means to ministry, not the end itself.
Most people’s dabbling, however, rarely results in a successful business, sold after 22 years for $240 million.
Mathena is not most people.
‘Major new emphasis’
Because of his business acumen and God’s blessings, Mathena has given Southern Seminary a $1 million gift to fund a “major new emphasis” in church revitalization, said the school’s president, R. Albert Mohler Jr.
During his annual report to the Southern Baptist Convention, June 11, 2014, Mohler announced the Mathena Center for Congregational Revitalization, an initiative to train ministers in reviving declining and dying churches.
Paul Chitwood believes church revitalization is as important as church planting.
“Revelation 19:7 says of the Lord’s church, ‘His Bride has made herself ready,’” said Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC). “I believe one of the primary roles of pastors, and the denominational missionaries who serve them, is to ensure the local church is healthy when Christ comes to claim her.”
During a reorganization of the KBC in 2012, Chitwood, a two-time graduate and former faculty member of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, created a church consulting and revitalization team.
“This, our largest team, consists of 21 full-time team members who work with churches toward a goal of revitalization,” Chitwood said. “On this team we have consultants who specialize in everything from children’s ministry to church finances to senior adult ministry.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr. noted the significant impact alumni of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are having as leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention during the annual alumni and friends luncheon, June 11.
“Here’s the great joy: we get to reflect on how Southern Seminary, by God’s grace and to God’s glory, has made a contribution to all these many lives, to so many churches, reaching so many distant points on the globe in terms of the mission field,” said Mohler, who just completed his 21st academic year as president.
J. Scott Bridger, an evangelical scholar of Islam, will serve as the director of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam and the Bill and Connie Jenkins assistant professor of Islamic studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, school officials announced this spring.
“I think Scott Bridger is the singular individual God has prepared to take on the leadership of the Jenkins Center at this time,” seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. said. “His academic preparation, his knowledge of Arabic language and Arabic culture, his deep knowledge of Islam, not only as a structure of thought but as a way of life, his experience in the Middle East, all of these serve him singularly well as the one to take on this responsibility.”
BALTIMORE — “Vast shifts” in American culture present an “unmistakably huge” task to future generations of pastors, missionaries and evangelists, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his annual report to the Southern Baptist Convention on the state of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“We can no longer live with the illusion of what sociologists used to call ‘American exceptionalism,’” said Mohler, who this summer begins his 22nd year as president of the Southern Seminary. “America, as it turns out, was not the exception to the trend of secularization; we were just behind Europe. And we are fast catching up.”
He described the “vast shift from the experience of American society over the last 200 years,” citing recent polls that indicate one-third of Americans younger than 30 claim no religious affiliation. And, claiming that no one alive today experienced “a time such as this,” Mohler said that Christians now live “in a time morally when the world is turning on its axis.”