Keelan Cook Promoted to Director of the Center for Great Commission Studies
Chad Burchett | May 31, 2022
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) announces Keelan Cook, former Associate Director of the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies (CGCS), as the new George Liele Director of the CGCS, effective June 1, 2022. After 13 years of faithful leadership as the Director of the CGCS, Scott Hildreth will be stepping away from the role on May 31 to dedicate more time to mentoring, teaching, and writing at SEBTS.
“Southeastern is a Great Commission school,” commented Danny Akin, President of SEBTS. “At the heart of this commitment is the CGCS. Scott Hildreth led this program with distinction for more than a decade. As he steps aside, I am delighted that Keelan Cook will take up the mantle as the George Liele Director of the CGCS. Keelan is perfectly gifted for this assignment, and I am excited about what he will bring to this center. The future is bright as we continue to mobilize students to GO to the nations with the gospel of King Jesus.”
Originally from Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, Keelan Cook decided he would return to the U.S. and study at SEBTS while he was serving on the field with the International Mission Board in West Africa. During his time in West Africa, Cook was encouraged by recordings of Danny Akin’s Great Commission preaching and often heard how his fellow journeymen intended to pursue further training at SEBTS. Returning to the U.S. in 2011, Cook enrolled in the PhD program at SEBTS in 2012 — confident that he would be rigorously trained for ministry and challenged to prioritize the Great Commission in his life and ministry.
“During my time at Southeastern,” Cook recalled, “I stumbled into a role here in the CGCS doing research on diaspora missions, immigration, and the massive numbers of unreached peoples scattering throughout North American cities. That research changed my life and my direction. I switched tracks in the PhD program and began research on immigration and its impact on missions in North America. My current work centers on missionary methods to engage displaced peoples, and I think it’s one of the most important issues facing the Church in North America today.”
Over the last decade, Cook has served in leadership roles at various local churches and Baptist associations with experience mobilizing Baptists for Great Commission ministry. Leveraging that ministry experience, Cook will continue teaching students at SEBTS as an instructor of missiology while also taking on his new administrative responsibilities as the director of the CGCS.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity,” shared Cook. “I get to lead the Great Commission center of the Great Commission seminary for Great Commission Baptists. If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is! Southeastern is a unique place and provides a rare opportunity to challenge thousands of students, who are receiving the best ministry preparation available, to rise to the charge presented to them by Christ himself: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’ It’s my job to wave that flag in front of our students, and I pray that God will use those efforts to send many from our churches to the ends of the earth.”
As Cook steps into his new role, he celebrates Southeastern’s commitment to the Great Commission: “Southeastern graduates currently cover the world, proclaiming the gospel and making disciples, many among the hardest to reach peoples and places on the globe. My hope is to see that legacy not only continue but strengthen in the years to come. My prayer is that every student who attends Southeastern will be confronted by the immense lostness and lack of gospel access in our world, the current lack of worship for the one true God and our responsibility to share the answer to the world’s greatest need.”
My prayer is that every student who attends Southeastern will be confronted by the immense lostness and lack of gospel access in our world, the current lack of worship for the one true God and our responsibility to share the answer to the world’s greatest need.
Cook’s appointment to the position follows Scott Hildreth’s announcement in early May that he will be leaving his role as the director of the CGCS to dedicate more time to mentoring students, teaching classes, and writing about missions. “It has always been my joy to watch God call students to the mission field and then see how he shapes them for service. My new role will serve as a different contribution to Southeastern’s mission, but I still love this place and have great expectations for our future,” shared Hildreth. “I will be serving as Associate Professor of Missiology. So, my primary responsibilities will be in the classroom and with students. I’ll teach, go on mission trips, and engage in deeper levels of mentorship and discipleship with students. I also want to be able to serve our convention and our convention churches as I write and connect with pastors and missionaries around God’s mission.”
“I am deeply grateful for the solid foundation Dr. Hildreth has put into place for the CGCS, and I am also looking forward to Keelan Cook’s building on that foundation,” commented Chuck Lawless, Senior Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctoral Studies, Vice President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers, and Richard & Gina Headrick Chair of World Missions. “Keelan is a practitioner with a missiological and biblical focus — these qualities will make him a strong next leader for this center.”
Hildreth’s ongoing contributions to the Southeastern community represent his heart to serve the Church and equip local churches and Christian leaders to be Great Commission witnesses. “Serving at Southeastern is my way of serving Southern Baptists,” noted Hildreth. “Teaching missions at Southeastern is my way of passing on the torch, keeping the flame of God’s mission burning in future generations.”
“Keelan is uniquely gifted to serve as the Director of the CGCS at this moment,” noted Hildreth. “As the world changes in the aftermath of COVID-19, wars, and international migration, Keelan will be able to lead our students to embrace God’s moment and mission. I am looking forward to seeing all that he does through the center as he challenges our community — and those outside our community — to follow God’s call to fulfill the Great Commission.”