by Michael McEwen
On August 23, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary inaugurated its Convocation for the fall semester. Binkley Chapel nearly reached its full capacity as it hosted the largest student attendance at the seminary. Composed of new to familiar faces in Binkley, the mass of students arose in traditional fashion to respectfully greet the faculty as they marched from the chapel entrance to its stage.
The chapel service commenced with the hymn, “O’ For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” somewhat honest to the chapel attendance occasion. As is common to most Convocation chapels, a number of professors sign the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, officially inaugurating them as faculty at Southeastern. Dr. Tony Merida, Associate Professor of Preaching, Dr. Jeremy Evans, Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Dr. Larry Purcell, Associate Professor of Leadership signed the documents, agreeing to its theological convictions. In addition to elected faculty, Dr. Sam Williams, Associate Professor of Counseling, received the Faculty Excellence in Teaching award.
After the signing of the Abstract of Principles and Baptist Faith and Message, President of Southeastern, Dr. Daniel Akin addressed the chapel with a message of servitude, faithfulness, and conviction. Utilizing the first six verses of Psalm 67 as his scriptural text, Akin shared the story of two Chinese missionaries and martyrs, John and Betty Stam. “Psalm 67,” said Akin, “was fulfilled in the life and death of these two individuals.
“This psalm teaches the church that God’s salvation, righteousness, and goodness must be known among the nations and the Stams’ story teaches us that we are to expect tribulation, but ultimately see victory!”
Akin said, “God’s salvific ways and praise are to be known among all nations, and we are blessed to be a blessing among all peoples of the earth. Indeed, as Psalm 67 illumines, God is the God of justice and righteousness who provides a hand of guidance for his people, and the faithfulness of God is the only certain thing in the world.”
Concluding his message Akin said, “God blessed the earth, specifically the Chinese people, through the lives of these two missionaries, and in the martyrdom of this blessed couple, God’s providential hand was still upon them. And also, may we heed the words of the last letter of John Stam, ‘May God be glorified by our lives and by our deaths.’”
Appropriately sung after Akin’s message was the Seminary Hymn whose closing stanza reads, “Bind us together now, we pray, / as from this place we go today. / And keep our feet in paths made light, / By Jesus’ truth and glory bright! Amen.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.