FORT WORTH, Texas (ABP) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees have elected two of their own board members as deans and agreed to create an undergraduate college on the Fort Worth campus.
During their April 6 meeting, trustees elected their chairman, David Allen, as dean of the theology school and Denny Autrey, chairman of the trustees' academic affairs committee, as dean of the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston. Both positions are effective Aug. 1.
Allen, pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving and professor of expository preaching at Criswell College in Dallas, has been a seminary trustee since 1992.
The board voted to create the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching and charged Allen with developing the new center. At Criswell College, he directed the Jerry Vines Institute for Biblical Preaching.
Allen is a graduate of Criswell College, and he earned a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Seminary and a doctor of philosophy in humanities degree from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Autrey, a seminary trustee since 1999, was chairman of the search committee that called Paige Patterson as seminary president. Autrey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale since 1996, will serve as chief resident officer for the seminary's theological center in Houston. He is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and holds both master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southwestern.
Both Autry and Allen have served in leadership of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, which broke away from the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1998.
Trustees also approved in principle creation of Southwestern Baptist Theological College, an undergraduate school that will offer baccalaureate degrees.
The seminary has no target date set to open the college, Patterson said, but he added: “We're going to get on it right away. We have had a lot of pressure from parents as well as students who want a baccalaureate school.”
Southwestern will be the fifth of the six Southern Baptist Convention-supported seminaries to start an undergraduate college, a role historically left to state Baptist conventions.
Southwestern College will be just 30 miles west of Dallas Baptist University, a school affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and 40 miles from Criswell College, the Bible college where Patterson was president 17 years.
Patterson acknowledged to reporters the presence of the two institutions in the same market and concern for them “slowed me down” in proposing the creation of Southwestern College. “I view DBU and Criswell as sister institutions that are deeply committed to the same things” as Southwestern Seminary, he said.
But he concluded the seminary's emphasis on world missions and a planned specialized program in biblical studies and Western ideas would make the seminary-based college “pretty much unique to anything else offered in the state of Texas.”
Gary Cook, president of Dallas Baptist University, agreed the seminary's missions emphasis sets it apart from most liberal arts undergraduate schools. But he noted DBU recently added a missions professor to its faculty — Bob Garrett, formerly at Southwestern Seminary — to help fill that void.
“If a student asked me whether I would recommend going to DBU or to Southwestern for an undergraduate education, I would say it's better to get a liberal arts undergraduate degree at the university, and then go on to a seminary for graduate school,” he said.
Cook predicted the creation of Southwestern College would have an impact on all of the universities affiliated with the BGCT. Even so, he added: “There are probably enough students to go around for all of us.”
Jerry Johnson, president of Criswell College, could not be reached for comment.
At the same board meeting, trustees approved in principle establishing a school of evangelism and missions on the Fort Worth campus.
In other business, seminary trustees:
– Elected David Galvan, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Garland, as chairman of the board and Van McClain, associate professor of Old Testament at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary's northeast branch in Schnectady, N.Y., as vice chairman.
– Adopted a $31.5 million budget for the next year, a 2.6 percent increase over the previous budget.
– Established the David McDonnall Missionary Scholarship Fund in honor of the International Mission Board humanitarian aid worker who was killed in Iraq in a drive-by shooting that injured his wife and also killed three of his colleagues.
– Elected eight faculty: Octavio Esqueda as assistant professor of administration and foundations of education in the school of educational ministries; James Hamilton as assistant professor of biblical studies and John Laing as assistant professor of systematic theology and philosophy in the Houston center; and Paul Hoskins and John Taylor as assistant professors of New Testament, Steven Smith as assistant professor of preaching, Michael Wilson as associate professor of pastoral ministry and John Mark Yeats as assistant professor of church history, all in the school of theology.