TRUSTEES: SWBTS approves Stanley Chair, Hemphill Center

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – A new academic chair honoring longtime pastor and Southern Baptist leader Charles F. Stanley, announcement of the appointment of Gregory A. Wills as the new dean of the School of Theology, naming an academic center for former president Kenneth S. Hemphill and faculty elections highlighted the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fall Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 18-19.

The board also elected a vice president for institutional advancement and celebrated the centennial anniversaries of the School of Church Music and Worship and the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries during an Oct. 18 dinner. (See related story.)

All actions of the board were unanimous.

“As the ninth president of the seminary, it is my joy to report to you that the state of the seminary is strong,” President Adam W. Greenway told trustees, noting an increase in new student enrollment for the current academic year. Despite the “unknown unknowns” due to uncertainties related to the COVID-19 global pandemic, he said, “God is still calling men and women to ministry and mission, and these men and women know that a call to ministry is a call to preparation. And hundreds of them are making the incredibly wise and strategic decision that the best place they can receive that training is at Southwestern Seminary.”

Greenway reported to trustees that “by God’s grace,” the seminary “saw an incredible year of the Lord’s favor and blessing financially.”

The more than $65 million in revenues during the fiscal year 2021 from all funding streams, $50 million of which was in unrestricted revenues, is an “unprecedented display of God’s favor and blessing,” he said. “… The Lord truly has showered financial blessings, even in the midst of disruption and pandemic in ways that only He can receive the glory.”

Adam W. Greenway (right) announced to SWBTS trustees the establishment of the Charles F. Stanley Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity, named Stanley (right), the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta and founder of In Touch, a worldwide broadcasting ministry. SWBTS photo

Trustees approved the establishment of the Charles F. Stanley Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity, which will be in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions and honors the legacy of the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, who also served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984-1986. (See related story).

Last month, the board of directors of In Touch Foundation, the charitable subsidiary of In Touch Ministries, the global broadcasting ministry founded by Stanley in 1977, approved full funding for the endowed academic chair “as an expression of appreciation for Dr. Stanley’s love for Christ, for Christian education, and for the ministry of the seminary.”

Greenway said that Stanley, who graduated from SWBTS with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1957, is “one of the most well-known and prolific Southwesterners in our history.”

Trustees also approved the promotion of D. Jeffrey Bingham to research professor of historical theology and to naming him to the endowed Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology in the School of Theology. (See related story.) Bingham, who served as interim president of SWBTS before Greenway’s arrival, was also granted a sabbatical leave for the 2022-2023 academic year. In addition to trustee actions, Greenway announced his appointment of Bingham as director of the seminary’s Center for Early Christian Studies.

“Dr. Bingham is a world-renowned Patristics scholar,” Greenway said. “He may be the foremost expert on the early church alive today working in Baptist and evangelical contexts and we need Jeff Bingham writing and researching and helping us glean every bit of wisdom we can … from the early church to help find ourselves more faithful as the 21st century church.”

Greenway announced the appointment of Wills as Bingham’s successor as dean. Wills, research professor of church history and Baptist heritage, also has served since 2019 as founding director of the seminary’s B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission.

Calling Wills “one of the foremost experts in the field of Baptist studies” today, Greenway said, “we are so blessed to have a man of integrity, a man of capacity, a man of theological acumen, a winsome scholar, who is a part of our faculty at Southwestern Seminary and I cannot think of a more qualified and competent person in the landscape of Baptist and evangelical higher education more ready to assume the post of leadership as dean of the School of Theology than Dr. Greg Wills.”

Trustees also approved the naming of the seminary’s Center for Church Revitalization in honor of Kenneth S. Hemphill, Southwestern’s seventh president, who served from 1994-2003. (See related story.) The center will now be known as the Hemphill Center for Church Revitalization.

“I can’t think of anybody more synonymous with healthy churches, and somebody who embodies more of what we want to see happen through our Center for Church Revitalization than Dr. Ken Hemphill,” Greenway said.

Hemphill said in a statement he is “humbled and honored” that center now bears his name.

“The spiritual renewal and functional revitalization of the local church has been a focus of my life and ministry,” he said. “Southwestern, since its inception, has been a leader in preparing ministers with the biblical and practical skills for local church ministry.”

Trustees also elected F. Edward Upton as vice president for institutional advancement, a role he has held on an interim basis since May. He came to the seminary in 2020 as associate vice president for institutional relations after serving with the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and in pastoral roles for churches in Arkansas and Texas.

Calling Upton “one of the most strategic leaders working in the Southern Baptist Convention today,” Greenway praised Upton’s leadership in helping to “make history” with the Stanley Chair.

“I do believe that in God’s economy, under the leadership of Dr. Ed Upton for many years to come, we’re going to see some of the greatest days in the history of development and advancement and institutional relations and campus operations that we’ve ever seen here on Seminary Hill,” Greenway said.

“I am grateful that God has called me to Southwestern Seminary to work alongside Dr. Greenway and the staff to continue to build this great institution,” Upton said in a statement. “My prayer is that I can be as much of a blessing to Southwestern as it has been to me.”

Trustees also elected three faculty members who had been serving under presidential appointment:

  • Todd Bates, professor of philosophy in Texas Baptist College;
  • Ian B. Buntain, associate professor of missions in the Fish School; and
  • Mark R. McClellan, professor of missions in the Fish School.

Trustees also heard reports from board committees, including the business administration committee, chaired by John Rayburn, who reported the seminary received a “very clean audit and no problems, big or small to report,” before the board approved the fiscal year 2021 financial statements.

In other actions, the board approved the candidates for graduation during fall commencement Dec. 3 and revisions to the seminary’s investment policy statement.

The next meeting of the board of trustees is scheduled for April 25-26, 2022.

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