Today's From the Seminaries includes:
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Deferred maintenance: Southern Seminary innovates
By Aaron Cline Hanbury
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Around the country, institutions of higher education face the persistent problem of deferred maintenance. Basically, an institution will defer addressing campus maintenance issues in an effort to reduce spending in general or to reallocate funds to more immediate needs. A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education painted a bleak picture of the deferred maintenance needs at institutions across the country.
The Chronicle reports that "deferred maintenance on college campuses amounts to about $36 billion across the country, with $7 billion of that considered urgent."
Citing Sightlines, a higher education consulting company with more than 300 clients, The Chronicle reports, "the data indicates that the need for repairs and modernization has risen since the start of the 2008 recession, particularly at public institutions. At some institutions the backlog, which is not recorded on balance sheets, would rival or far exceed their net assets or liabilities."
Moody's Investors Service, a company that provides credit ratings, research, tools and analysis for corporations, produced a report revealing that for the 287 private colleges it rates, debt for capital projects had more than tripled, from $27 billion in 2000 to $90 billion in 2010. This makes the need to address deferred maintenance all the more urgent.
At Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, deferred maintenance is no less an issue. In an effort to assess the situation, the seminary hired one of the nation's top consulting firms to evaluate the campus. The result was the quantification of the seminary's $52 million deferred maintenance bill.
The Chronicle suggests that campus buildings require "major renovations" every 25 years, and "further major renovations, or replacement, at 50 years." Southern Seminary built many of its buildings when the seminary moved to its current location in 1926, almost 90 years ago. Many areas of those buildings, the plumbing in the Mullins Complex for instance, have not seen an update since then.
"One of our chief responsibilities in this generation is to ensure Southern Seminary is propelled into the future unconstrained by limitations that we have the responsibility to address now," said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. "The campus of Southern Seminary is merely a tool, but it's a very important tool for our ability to fulfill the mission that has been entrusted to us. For that reason, we need to take responsibility in this generation to make certain that the campus continues as a great asset to our mission and does not become a liability."
The consensus of those interviewed in The Chronicle seems to be that colleges will need to adopt new strategies to get more out of their buildings. David A. Kadamus, president of Sightlines, said that "colleges are embracing all sorts of strategies to deal with deferred maintenance. The savviest have devised comprehensive plans that deal with maintenance issues while pursuing strategic goals."
Southern Seminary's need for a comprehensive strategy provided the impetus for its new master plan. According to Mohler, Southern's responsibility and the growing needs of its campus "explain the significant effort to address long-term issues and take advantage of opportunities for the campus."
Mohler said that addressing the seminary's deferred maintenance issue is not only for the current Southern community, but for the future of the institution.
"As I head into my 20th year as president, I do not want to turn over this campus to the next generation as a time bomb about to detonate," he said. "In spite of all of its beauty and all of its utility, there are some things that are ticking as some of these buildings approach their 90th year."
According to Mohler, the largest area of concern is the Mullins Complex. The complex consists of Whitsitt, Mullins and Williams halls and makes up one-third of the campus. If the complex were to require plumbing or electrical replacement, the cost for each would be $4 million. Then, updating 1926 facilities to match 2012 codes would cost at least $4 million.
During the next 10 years, the seminary's newly adopted and implemented master plan will defer maintenance no more. This plan will dissolve the $52 million in deferred maintenance and position the campus for immediate and future structural and financial sustainability. Phase one will restore and update the campus, primarily in terms of housing and administrative offices.
"We are going to look at the issue in terms of its component parts," Mohler said. "Look at what issues are the most crucial and put it together in a package that will include some fundraising and some use of capital." Mohler insisted that the seminary will not draw funds for the proposed master plan neither from tuition increases.
The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention has approved a $20 million loan for the SBTS master plan. This loan will help repurpose the Mullins Complex as a state-of-the-art facility for Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary.
Phase two will advance the learning community of Southern Seminary, primarily through renovation of the James P. Boyce Centennial Library. Phase three, without requiring any firm commitments, anticipates future development.
By the completion of the first phase of the master plan, Southern Seminary will almost entirely be free from its current deferred maintenance bill. The leadership and staff of the seminary are carefully, aggressively and creatively addressing the persistent challenge of deferred maintenance -- but not just as a means to keep paint fresh and building infrastructure up-to-date. Instead, the master plan eliminates longstanding maintenance needs in a way that strategically resets the campus to better fulfill in our age its enduring mission of training ministers of the Gospel.
Pastors, students walk in footsteps of Baptist forebears
By Keith Collier
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Following in the steps of their theological ancestors, a group of Southern Baptists traversed five countries in Western Europe and discovered firsthand the faithfulness and unyielding commitment of 16th-century Anabaptists. The group traveled as part of the Radical Reformation Study Tour organized and led by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary faculty and President Paige Patterson.
The tour focused on 16th-century Anabaptists, who sought to build New Testament churches on the major tenets of biblical authority, believer's baptism, believers' church, a proper view of the Lord's Supper, religious liberty, discipleship and church discipline. Anabaptists championed a return to the Bible much like their Magisterial Reformer contemporaries such as Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli, but they believed these Reformers had not gone far enough in abandoning unbiblical practices such as infant baptism. Their advocacy for a "free church" separate from the state incited opposition and persecution from both Catholics and Protestants. Many were martyred for their faith.
Southwestern's tour group of 24 people traveled to sites in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic from May 14-24. They explored castle ruins where Anabaptists were imprisoned, caves where they gathered for worship and riverbanks where many were drowned. Along the way, professors lectured on the theology and biographies of these faithful men and women.
Although historians misunderstood Anabaptists for centuries, scholars in the 20th century recognized the diversity among Anabaptists and the valuable heritage they left for present-day Baptists and other Christians. Former Southwestern Seminary professors such as A.H. Newman, William Estep and James Leo Garrett were some at the forefront of this scholarship. Estep's "The Anabaptist Story" has been a staple textbook on the subject for more than 35 years. Today, Southwestern continues to lead the way in Anabaptist studies as seen by its "Anabaptism and Contemporary Baptists" conference in January 2012, which attracted more than 500 students, faculty members and guests from around the world.
Estep's legacy was strongly felt on the study tour. His contributions to Anabaptist studies initially sparked Patterson's interest in the subject, and the two became friends in later years. Additionally, two pastors on the tour first remember hearing about the Anabaptists from Estep as they sat in his church history classroom.
Mike Hopkins, senior pastor at Simpson Creek Baptist Church in Bridgeport, W.Va., took Estep's class at Southwestern in the early 1960s and knew the Estep family from church. He has continued to study the Anabaptists throughout his pastoral ministry and was excited to hear that Southwestern would be leading a study tour on the topic.
"I find it very moving to be at the sites where Anabaptists gave their lives because of their faith in Christ," Hopkins said. "I like history, and when I study history, I don't want generalities. I want to know exactly where this happened and what happened here, and this trip has been excellent.
"I wanted to come on this trip if for no other reason but to stand in Zurich at the Limmat River where Felix Manz was drowned, and to think of his dear mother calling out to him to be strong and not to compromise. That was the high point of the trip for me."
Jimmy Patterson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Newnan, Ga., first learned about the Anabaptists at Southwestern in Estep's class in the 1980s. Patterson -- no relation to Paige Patterson -- used his sabbatical to join the study tour. He came away refreshed physically and spiritually and said the trip provided practical benefits for his ministry as a pastor.
"I'm now able to go back home and give my church compelling and passionate reasons to continue being distinctively Baptist," Patterson said. " also be able to persuasively instruct new converts on the importance of believer's baptism and Christian prospects from other denominations on the essentials of believer's baptism."
Patterson said the study tour also fueled his passion for evangelism and missions: "The price paid by the Anabaptists for their faith has motivated me to new levels of evangelism.
"Our association has adopted an unreached people group in the Südtirol Valley. spoke about George Blaurock in the 16th century who went to that part of present-day northern Italy , and Anabaptists exploded in that area. But now, they're an unreached, unengaged people group according to the IMB. … I thought, 'Wow! These people have an Anabaptist heritage, and they used to not be unreached. I think a great strategy would be to go back and tell these people a little about their ancestral roots and use that as a launching pad to introduce them .'"
Jon Clark, a master of divinity student at Southwestern, took the church history class offered as part of the study tour, which served as his final class in his master's program. Upon graduation, he plans to continue in pastoral ministry.
" was a culmination of everything I've been working toward and learning," Clark said. "It's an inspiration to learn about the Anabaptists and their sacrifices and faithfulness. Now, I have the motivation to be as sacrificial as the Anabaptists and as faithful as they were. It makes me want to love God more and show Him more to the world regardless of what the cost might be."
Dan Moon, a Southwestern alumnus who served as a church planter and the church planting director for Asian-Americans with the North American Mission Board until his retirement in 2003, also participated in the study tour. He believes a proper understanding of Anabaptist theology and the heritage left for modern Baptists would benefit Asian believers and churches.
"The Korean Protestant movement needs to go back to the basics of New Testament Christianity, patterned after what Anabaptists did," Moon said. He noted the importance of teaching Baptist distinctives because "the future explosion of mass Christendom in the 21st century will be in China, South Korea, North Korea and Southeast Asian countries."
Southwestern hopes to continue to lead study tours on the Anabaptists in addition to its study tours on the English Reformation, the Early Church, and the Holy Land.
Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
German bus driver stays on narrow road
By Keith Collier
RHEINLAND-PFALZ, Germany -- After decades of running from God, Klaus-Peter Schmidt could not bear the weight of conviction any longer. For a year, he had attended a local Baptist church, sat under the preaching of God's Word, and read the Bible given to him by the pastor. But he still felt desperate.
"On the 16th of February in 2011, I was driving in my car, and I felt like I should stop now," Schmidt recounts. "I read the letter of John, and after I finished reading, I started crying. All of the sudden, I noticed what a sinful life I had led throughout all these years. And I was so grateful that through the words out of this Bible my whole life was being changed."
Despite his desperation, he sensed the Lord saying over and over, "Do not give up." Sitting in his car, he repented and put his faith in Christ.
"In this very moment, I knew that God had given me a present, that He had shown His grace to me, that I was really converted to Him."
Schmidt continued to attend Bible classes and worship services at his church as much as possible. However, his profession as a long-distance coach driver often had him driving a tour bus around Germany on the weekends.
Then, one day, his company told him an upcoming assignment would involve driving a Christian group across five countries over the course of 10 days. Some may call it coincidence, but Schmidt says it was divine providence. The company assigned him to be the coach driver for Southwestern Seminary's Radical Reformation Study Tour, which focused on traveling in the footsteps of 16th-century Anabaptists in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic.
"When I first got the documents saying it was Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I was smiling all over my face and thinking this can't be true," Schmidt says.
In addition to navigating narrow city streets and hairpin curves in the Swiss Alps, Schmidt listened in on the lectures about the committed believers who lived in the region and held to biblical principles even at the cost of their lives. Schmidt also joined the group to see the prison cells where Anabaptists were sequestered, the barns and caves where they hid to worship, and the riverbanks where they were drowned for their faith.
"I learned how important our personal faith is for us, and I've learned so many new historical and theological facts; I took everything in like a sponge," Schmidt says. "At each and every place, I had the impression of diving into history and to learn from our forefathers."
"I've experienced during this week such a true faith and a faith that is alive. It's my goal to live the same kind of living faith. Every day was so amazing, so indescribable."
Despite traveling some rocky roads in life, Schmidt is determined to stay on the straight and narrow road.
"During those 10 days," Schmidt says, "I came to see how easy it can be to living your faith if you just live according to what the Bible says. It's not easy for any of us. Sometimes we, ourselves, make our way pretty difficult."
With God's help and direction, Schmidt has set his course to stay on the straight and narrow road. His primary goal is to "live the life that God expects us to live together with my wife and little son."
Former Muslim embraces Christ,
plans mission trip to home country
By Frank Michael McCormack
MARIETTA, Ga. -- The road that led Brahima Nabi Toure to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's North Georgia Hub was longer, and had more twists and turns, than that of many students at NOBTS. Toure, a truck driver by trade and a master of divinity student, is originally from Burkina Faso, a nation of about 16 million in West Africa.
The long road from Toure's village, Diebougou, to the Atlanta area ultimately led him from Islam to faith in Jesus Christ. It also led him to his wife Mikyong and to a call to ministry.
And that long road, Toure said, ultimately will lead him back to his village as a minister of the Gospel. His ministry there will be the first.
Toure said he always dreamed of coming to the United States. He majored in English in college in part because of that desire.
Then in 1998, a friend who already lived in the States connected Toure with a farmer in Wisconsin. A main motivation for leaving Burkina Faso for the United States, Toure said, was to provide for his large family. Toure spent only one planting season in Wisconsin, though. As it turns out, the Wisconsin weather was a little extreme for the native Burkinabè.
Toure abandoned the Midwest for the Southeast in February 1999 when he moved to Atlanta, joining a large contingent from Burkina Faso. He worked a number of jobs, anything from washing cars to working behind the counter at a gas station.
And work he did, sending much of his pay back to his mother and siblings in Burkina Faso. But the hard work and loneliness of being a newcomer to the United States took its toll. By the time he turned 40 in the mid-2000s, Toure hit a wall.
"I started panicking. I had nothing -- no money, no wife, no kids," he recalled. "I spent all these years working, and not only working, wasting my life. I was a secret alcoholic. In my bitterness, all I could do was drink."
But in the midst of his crisis, Toure met his future wife, Mikyong, a Korean and a Christian.
"When I looked at her, I saw my filthiness. And what was amazing about her was that she was happy," he said. "She was so happy, and I started envying her happiness. And she loved me."
Toure said he began to notice how Mikyong would divide her income between her tithe and missions giving at her Korean church. He also watched closely how she read her Bible. She was passionate about her faith and prayed. One thing, though, threatened to derail their relationship -- there was a possibility that Mikyong could not have a child. In Toure's culture in Burkina Faso, having children is of utmost importance.
About the same time, the couple drove from Atlanta to Seattle to visit a friend. Toure drove, and along the way, Mikyong constantly shared with him words of wisdom from the Bible. He was amazed at her knowledge of the Bible. In response, he decided to match her Christian faith by being a good Muslim.
"I tried to read the Quran, but I didn't feel the same passion as her," Toure said.
One day, Toure put down his Quran and picked up a tract Mikyong had brought from her church.
"Something stirred in my heart," he said. "I took her Bible and opened it from the Book of Genesis and started reading and reading. And I never stopped from that day."
On Mother's Day 2009, Toure attended church with Mikyong. He said that morning he had read Psalm 23 and focused on the part that says, "I prepare a table for you."
There was a meal after the worship service, and Toure sat at the pastor's table. Knowing that Toure had not yet placed his faith in Christ, the pastor offered to pray with him after the meal. Overcome with emotion, Toure began to kneel, then sob, then lay prostrate as he cried out to God. A wave of peace passed over him, he said, as he received the Holy Spirit.
Just a few weeks later, Toure was baptized in Lake Lanier near Atlanta. He and Mikyong were married immediately afterward.
Toure got more and more involved in ministry through his church and continued to grow in his faith, but he had not yet shared his testimony with his mother. Then, while on mission in India, Toure said he felt impressed to call his mother. He called and told her where he was, and she asked why he would be in India.
"I said, 'I'm on a mission for Jesus.' I said, 'I'm one of them. sent me here on a mission to share the Gospel,'" Toure recalled.
His siblings "cried for weeks and months" and his mother had to be taken to the hospital, they were so distraught.
Since his conversion, Toure has continued sending money back home and reaching out to his mother and siblings. Gradually, he said, they're talking to him more. He said he knows it's difficult for them to accept him as a Christian.
"When you go to my village, owns the mosque. They are very proud to be Muslim. They know nothing else. I'm a shock to the whole family," he said. "I'm really standing alone, but I'm really not alone."
With a deep desire to know the Bible and share his faith, Toure began studying at NOBTS' North Georgia Hub about three semesters ago.
"I believe my calling is to serve in Africa or the Middle East," he said.
That call to overseas missions, he said, starts at home in Diebougoug, Burkina Faso, among his own family. Toure said he hopes to travel there with Mikyong sometime this year.
"I want to take it as a mission trip to explore the land," he said. "I know He has great plans for them. In my family, there has never been a Christian."
Frank Michael McCormack is a writer for New Orleans Seminary.
Golden Gate to offer online theological studies master's
MILL VALLEY, Calif. -- Gate Baptist Theological Seminary announces its entirely online master of theological studies (MTS) degree program is available for the first time beginning this fall. Dually accredited, this 49-hour, two-year program allows students to earn a seminary degree from anywhere in the world without disrupting their current life and ministry.
This program links students with Golden Gate's faculty, as it integrates a wide variety of online methods including graphic and video lectures, video and audio chats, threaded email discussions, shared applications, wiki documents, online exams, and posting shared research. The courses are asynchronous so students can conveniently blend assignments into their work week.
"The online concept maximizes learning through weekly interaction with qualified faculty and fellow students," said Rick Durst, director of Golden Gate's online education.
"While students don't have to travel to a campus, the serious master's-level coursework means students will need to create time in their schedule to do the work," Jeff Iorg, seminary president, added. "We are committed to delivering high-quality educational opportunities in every venue."
Courses are taught by professors, not teaching assistants and includes access to qualified librarians who assist students in finding the best databases and electronic works in the seminary's collection and server. Students also receive 24/7 technical support for their courses.
Class size is limited to ensure a high quality educational experience. Transfer credit is available. Apply online at www.ggbts.edu or call toll-free 888-442-8701 for more information.
"Golden Gate Seminary is one of the world's most experienced theological schools in online education," said Michael Martin, vice president of academic affairs. "Our first online class was offered in 1998, and our commitment is always to provide a high quality education with the maximum student/teacher and peer-to-peer interaction. Student feedback for our program to date has been excellent."
Dually accredited by Association of Theological Schools and Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the online master of theological studies is affordable and requires no on-campus time.
Golden Gate Seminary is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and operates five fully accredited campuses in Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado. For more information, visit www.ggbts.edu, email email@example.com, or call 888-442-8701.
Phyllis Evans is director of communications for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
Southeastern's Welcome Week includes service projects
By Michael McEwen
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- Each semester at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, incoming students are welcomed to the "newness" of being on campus. The activities that take place on and off campus may seem like any other college welcome week but there are a few key differences.
Southeastern's Welcome Week provides a medley of service projects in addition to recreational fun. Whereas some colleges in North Carolina's Triangle area primarily promote entertainment events for their new students, Southeastern invited students to participate in service opportunities throughout the Wake Forest and Raleigh area.
On Aug. 13, SEBTS students picked up trash on a few main roads in Wake Forest, painted rooms at the Boys and Girls Club, created new running and walking trails at E. Carroll Joyner Park, washed city police cars and fire trucks, as well as served at Project Hope in Raleigh.
"We must be good stewards of what God has given us," said Drew Ham, the seminary's director of discipleship and spiritual formation. "The Scriptures clearly command us to serve one another, and our service projects are just one way that our students can begin to serve God, each other, Southeastern and the community around them."
Seminary officials say the projects reflect the mission of Southeastern, which is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission taught in Matthew 28:18-20.
Addressing the new students, SEBTS President Daniel Akin reminded them to ask daily, "What kind of path do you need to follow in order to bring glory to God each and every day?" Akin then said that Southeastern desires to prepare students to serve their churches and communities to ultimately bring glory to God.
Ham said that Welcome Week is an introduction to understanding the work God is doing at Southeastern and how students might join Him in His work. "Specifically," he said, "I'm trying to give them a 'taste' of the great opportunities that lie before them. We also want to help our students get to know one another. These relationships, fostered over the next weeks and months, will be relationships that often last their entire lives."
Michael McEwen writes for Southeastern Seminary.
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