Southeastern receives full funding for new endowed chair of preaching

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. – After contributions from sources across the nation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary now has the full funding for the new Johnny Hunt Chair of Biblical Preaching.

The endowed chair, the third fully-funded one at Southeastern, will allow for more students to be trained to preach the gospel around the world as it will provide growing, annual salary support for a professor of preaching, said Ryan Hutchinson, Senior Vice President for Business Administration at Southeastern. The endowed chair in preaching is a tribute to the preaching and pastoral legacy of Hunt, who has been pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., for 23 years.

In large part, the one million dollars to fund the Hunt Chair of Biblical Preaching have come from gifts, both large and small, given by members of First Baptist Church Woodstock, as well as others from across the nation who value the preaching ministry of Hunt, said Daniel Palmer, Director of Financial Development at Southeastern.

The final gifts, enabling the chair to be funded with one million dollars, came in “at just the right time in the life of the seminary,” Palmer said. On the tail end of Hunt’s two years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the timing was “providential. God has used him to call our attention to putting first things first, because he’s led his church in putting first things first for years, so it is no accident God has seen fit to have us be able to fully fund a chair in his honor,” Palmer said.

“This is just a small way of us saying to you – we love you, we believe in you and you’re not only a friend, but a hero, to many of us,” Akin said.

Hutchinson agreed on the providence of the timing. “It would be difficult to conceive of a better time for the completion of funding of the Hunt chair. At a time when most funding sources are shrinking or flat, the Hunt chair will improve our financial footing and provide support that will no longer need to come from students’ tuition,” he said.

“The successes of higher-education institutions depend upon the gracious gifts of men and women to accomplish the mission set before them. When those gifts are invested for a Kingdom purpose – equipping those God has called to shepherd his people – the return on investment is not only great but everlasting,” Hutchinson said.

Southeastern president Daniel Akin said the completion of the Hunt Chair is a blessing to him, as well.

“Johnny Hunt is one of my dearest friends and a personal hero. He is a pastor to pastors all across our convention of churches, “Akin said. “He is a faithful, biblical preacher who always honors the text, exalts King Jesus and calls men, women, boys and girls to trust in our savior. This chair of preaching will appropriately honor one of God’s choice servants.”

The honor for Hunt will enable more Godly leaders to be raised up to preach and exposit the Scriptures. As Southeastern distributes the funds to a preaching professor, more will learn how to rightly divide the word of truth.

“Faithfully communicating God’s truth for the purpose of persuading people to respond is the essence of preaching,” said Ken Keathley, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration and Dean of the Faculty at Southeastern. “Pastors across the SBC and beyond recognize Johnny Hunt as the embodiment of a gospel preacher.

“Dr. Hunt consistently models faithful exposition, concern for the hearers, zeal for the truth and love for the Savior in every message he preaches. It is only right that Southeastern has a chair of biblical preaching in his name.”

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