Board of Visitors and Trustees Gather To Hear about Those Being Sent
January 19, 2017
From Sunday evening to Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Visitors and Board of Trustees gathered at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for their biannual meeting. During these three days, members from the Boards conversed with current students, prayed for the seminary and made important decisions that will shape the school’s future.
On Monday, Daniel Akin, Southeastern’s president, provided an update concerning the status of Southeastern. He said, “As of right now, enrollment is at 2,999. Once we get that one student, it will be the first time we have ever passed the 3,000 mark at Southeastern. Our on-campus enrollment is stronger than it has ever been.”
Akin also spoke about Southeastern’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). MOOC began spring 2013 and it has become a popular new way students can view lectures from top-ranked universities for free. The MOOC student receives the same information, resources and content as the student who physically attends the Southeastern campus. Akin said, “Our first class we offer is biblical interpretation or what we call here at Southeastern, ‘hermeneutics.’ We expected maybe 500 individuals to sign up. The official count today is 2,634 students and our plan is to continue adding more classes in the future.”
On Monday night, Southeastern hosted a “Great Commission Banquet,” where attendees heard from Bruce Ashford, Provost of Southeastern, Chuck Lawless, Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern, Scott Hildreth, Director of the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern, Nik Ripken, full-time international missionary, and Daniel Akin moderated the event. This banquet helped the attendees understand the depths of Southeastern’s heart for missions.
Summarizing the banquet discussion, Ashford said, “There exist three truths for Christians. First, salvation is through Christ alone. Man cannot be saved by any other name under heaven. Second, across the globe people do not know the name of Christ. A lost person could leave his or her home, walk for weeks and never meet a Christian or see a church. Third, we as Christians in America, have plenty of money and resources but will we do what is necessary to preach Christ with our lips and proclaim him with our lives?”
The Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted and affirmed a pivotal moment in Southeastern’s education history: a completely online Master of Divinity (M.Div.). While in the past, distance-learning students could take a maximum of forty-two hours of online credits toward their M.Div. requirements. The remaining credit hours had to be met with on-campus visits. With this new online M.Div. approved, these requirements are no longer in effect. The individual in California, Montana or Florida can procure an entire M.Div. without leaving his or her home.
In Tuesday’s chapel, alongside missionary Nik Ripken’s message, nineteen missionary units from Southeastern were being commissioned. A “unit” can consist of an individual or an entire family. Sharing both the triumphant stories and the hardships of being a missionary, Ripken said, “Whether you are crossing the street or the ocean, the content of the Bible must meet the context of the world. Our lives must match up to the Great Commission of Jesus to teach and make disciples of all nations.”
Akin closed the chapel inviting the nineteen units being commissioned to gather at the front of Binkley Chapel. Akin then urged faculty, staff and students to come and lay hands on these commissioned missionaries to pray over them. Akin said before the prayer, “Like these future missionaries, may we all be willing to die in taking up our cross in love so that the gospel light may go forth to the ends of the earth.”