SEBTS celebrates God’s continued faithfulness during alumni and friends livestream
June 11, 2020
While COVID-19 kept Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) friends and alumni from gathering together at the Southern Baptist Convention, over 1,200 registrants joined virtually for the Southeastern Alumni & Friends Livestream on June 10.
SBC President J.D. Greear and SEBTS President Danny Akin addressed the audience on issues of racial reconciliation, pastoral ministry in 2020 and the upcoming presidential election in November.
Kicking off the livestream event, Greear expressed his gratitude for Southeastern’s leadership in its “theological depth and evangelistic zeal.” Greear referenced Psalm 46:10, which reads, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
“During this time we’ve been forced to be still, but that does not mean that God is not on the move. He is pursuing his agenda to be exalted among the nations,” said Greear.
Dr. Akin followed Greear’s address by providing a brief update on Southeastern’s encouraging growth and health during COVID-19.
“These have been some of the most unusual days in the history of Southeastern Seminary, yet at the same time God has been unbelievably kind to us in pouring out his blessings.”
Some of these blessings include seminary and college enrollment surpassing 5,000 students this spring. Likewise, Southeastern continues to send out numerous church planters and international missionaries each semester, with the Spring 2020 graduation being one of the largest graduating classes in its history. This fall, Southeastern plans to have classes on campus, with in-person classes ending at Thanksgiving Break and the remainder of the semester resuming online. Akin noted that even with growth and progress, a great need for giving still exists. Giving to Southeastern’s financial campaign, For the Mission, and the Southeastern Fund help students receive affordable theological education, create faculty endowments and renovate buildings on campus to better accommodate the school’s growing student population.
Ronjour Locke, director for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership at SEBTS, transitioned to a time of Q&A with Akin and Greear.
The first of these questions centered on racial reconciliation. The racial tension occurring throughout the nation is causing churches to take inventory of the multicultural heartbeat of their congregations.
“I think [the most] segregated hour is 5-6 p.m. around the dinner table. It’s because we don’t have integrated relationships and lives, [and] our churches reflect that,” said Greear.
Similarly, Akin explained that listening breeds empathy. As we seek to love our brothers and sisters of color, we learn to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). This intentionality to listen led Akin to begin the Kingdom Diversity Initiative at Southeastern in 2013. In 2014, the Kingdom Diversity Scholarship was created to include several scholarship funds, including an endowment in honor of Akin’s 10th anniversary as president. From 2014-2020, Southeastern has seen its ethnic minority enrollment increase from 5 percent to 18.5 percent. As Akin celebrated this progress, he knows that there is more work to be done. Yet, it reminds him of the joy of worshiping with a diverse family at the throne of God for eternity.
“I’m just getting ready for eternity where the big family will be gathered around the throne from every tribe, tongue, people and nation adoring the same Father, worshiping the same Savior and all indwelled by the same Holy Spirit.”
The conversation moved into preaching and pastoral ministry as both Akin and Greear considered how pastors balance expository preaching with issue-based sermons. Greear explained that as a steward of the Bible, pastors need to give the full counsel of God’s Word to God’s people.
“There’s a pastoral insight that goes into how to take what God has said, make sure they get the whole counsel of it but also with pastoral sensitivity.”
Both presidents also discussed how to approach the upcoming election year. Greear reminded attendees that while it’s important to speak into political issues, it should never undermine the unity of the church and sole devotion to God.
“Our salvation doesn’t come from a donkey or an elephant; it comes from a Lamb.”
Akin also encouraged a spirit of graciousness with those who see political issues differently.
“We need to remind ourselves that we are a family, and family does not always see things eye to eye. We ought to grant one another that permission and that grace.”
Southeastern seeks to continue glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. To learn more about how to give to that mission, visit sebts.edu/give.