Year in Review: Southeastern Equips Students and Churches to Make Disciples
Chad Burchett | December 18, 2023
In 2023, Southeastern Seminary and The College at Southeastern witnessed God’s continued favor as students came from around the world to receive biblical and theological education from a Great Commission perspective. Equipped to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission, 537 graduates were sent out to make disciples in rural towns, urban centers, and hard-to-reach places around the world.
These 2023 graduates represent hundreds of churches that partnered with Southeastern this past year to train men and women for ministry, and they now represent dozens of countries who are and will be reached with the gospel because of their obedience to King Jesus.
As Southeastern prepared these students to be sent, the institution also witnessed record incoming classes and preview day participation as increasing numbers of undergraduate, graduate, and advanced students came to campus to experience what God has been doing at Southeastern. Southeastern also celebrated its largest year of charitable giving, receiving more than $7.1 million to fund its efforts to resource churches and train students to make disciples.
Celebrating another year of God’s faithfulness, here are 10 highlights of Southeastern’s Great Commission efforts in 2023:
Global Missions Week
This spring, Southeastern hosted its annual Global Missions Week on campus. An annual Southeastern tradition, Global Missions Week is a dedicated time to champion and pray for the work of missionaries on the field and to challenge students to consider how they might participate in God’s global mission. Students learned about upcoming mission trips through Southeastern; engaged with missionaries, pastors, and church planters; and learned about opportunities to serve with the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, as well as state conventions and other organizations.
Military Ministry Training Partnership
Southeastern announced its partnership with MilSpo Co., a 501c3 Christian ministry that trains and mobilizes military spouses to make disciples in and around military installations worldwide. Through this partnership, Southeastern offers women in MilSpo Co. cohorts the opportunity to receive flexible theological education and ministry preparation from anywhere in the world. Supporting these MilSpo Co. students and other military connected students, Southeastern also announced the Brook Leona Mission Sending Student Aid Fund in honor of Brook Leona, a gold star child who generously donated to the cause of training military spouses for global ministry.
Buildings Dedicated for Ministry
Southeastern dedicated Carson Hall, the academic and administrative building on its west quad, in honor of the late Ralph Logan Carson, who served for 15 years as a professor of Christian theology at Southeastern. Born blind, Carson overcame many obstacles in life and served as the first African American professor at Southeastern. Honoring Carson’s missional and pastoral legacy, the Southeastern community dedicated Carson Hall as a space for ongoing training and ministry preparation.
Southeastern also dedicated the Ty Williams Memorial Pavilion in honor of Ty Williams, who went home to be with the Lord in 2020. Ty, son of Associate Vice President for Facilities Travis Williams, is remembered for his love of people and God’s creation. Designed for conversation, study, and fellowship, the pavilion invites the Southeastern family and the surrounding community to reflect on the preciousness of God’s abiding love in Christ.
Training Conferences on Campus
During the spring semester, Southeastern hosted its annual Exploring Personhood conference, casting a vision for how the Church can reach a culture indelibly shaped by science and technology. This year’s conference welcomed Christian scholars from various disciplines and was designed to help Christians develop a biblical perspective on human formation. This year’s conference was the second of three major events in The Being Human: Theology and Praxis conference series, which was made possible by a $1.53 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
A week later, more than 250 college students gathered on campus for the return of the Go Conference — a missions conference designed to mobilize college students for the Great Commission. This year’s conference focused on taking the next step of obedience and challenged students to say “yes” to Jesus’s commission, trusting him to empower them as his witnesses. The conference is an annual expression of The College at Southeastern’s mission to equip students to give their lives for the cause of Christ in the Church, among the nations, and in every aspect of society.
First Persian Program Graduation
Over the summer, Southeastern celebrated the first graduation in its Persian Leadership Development program, honoring 23 Muslim-background believers in the graduating class. The first program of its kind, the Persian Leadership Development program provides strategically positioned Persian church leaders with access to fully accredited theological bachelor’s and master’s degrees completely in Farsi. Before the graduation, Southeastern also hosted a two-day training conference for Persian leaders who are equipping the fastest growing church in the Muslim world.
Seminary for a Day Events
Southeastern partnered with the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia in the spring and fall to provide pastors and church leaders throughout Virginia with seminary-level training close to home. These Seminary for a Day events offer local churches access to seminary faculty in their ministry contexts and enable busy ministry leaders to receive further biblical and theological training for faithful ministry.
Training for Church and Associational Leaders
Resourcing aspiring church re-planters and their wives, Southeastern hosted a two-day church replanting conference, highlighting strategies for effective replanting, offering biblical counsel to current students and new pastors, and answering common questions and concerns about replanting local churches.
Southeastern also hosted its fifth annual Associational Mission Strategist conference to encourage and equip associational leaders for faithful Great Commission ministry throughout the U.S. This year’s conference focused on the priority of church revitalization and renewal not only for addressing ongoing church decline in North America but also for developing Great Commission partnerships to reach communities with the gospel.
New Certificate and Curricular Updates
In the fall, Southeastern announced its new certificate in ministry to women, featuring several courses taught by Southeastern’s world-class women faculty. As a part of Southeastern’s larger efforts to equip women, the Go Certificate in Ministry to Women is a seven-course, self-paced certificate designed to train women to make disciples.
Other notable curriculum changes and additions include:
- A new education minor as well as several revisions to the general core curriculum for The College
- A new Master of Education degree for graduate studies
- A new Master of Theology in applied theology with a concentration in theology and worship
- A new Doctor of Ministry in applied theology with a concentration in worship
- Two new Doctor of Education concentrations: organizational leadership and Christian ministry
New Faculty Books
As world-class scholars who also have a warm heart for ministry and missions, Southeastern’s faculty is committed to equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. This year the faculty published a dozen books designed to resource churches and students to reach the nations, make disciples, counsel with care, study the Scriptures, and learn from history.
This year’s titles included “Transformational Teaching” by Ken Coley, “Alvin Plantinga” by Greg Welty, “A Handbook of Theology” by Danny Akin, “40 Questions About the Text and Canon of the New Testament” by Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles, “Victory over the Enemy” by Chuck Lawless, “Exalting Jesus in 1 Corinthians” by Danny Akin, “Humanity” by John Hammett, “40 Questions About the Apostle Paul” by Miguel Echevarría, “Mobilizing Church-Based Counseling” by Brad Hambrick, “Facilitating Counseling Groups” by Brad Hambrick, “Exegetical Journeys in Biblical Greek” by Ben Merkle, and “Islam and the Bible” by Ant Greenham.
As Southeastern expanded its Great Commission efforts, the institution honored retiring faculty members, welcomed new faculty, and celebrated several staff and faculty changes.
- John Hammett, senior professor of systematic theology and John Leadley Dagg Chair of systematic theology, retired after 28 years of teaching
- David Beck, professor of New Testament and Greek and associate dean of biblical studies, retired after 28 years of teaching
- Al James, professor of missions, associate dean of ministry studies, and director of the Equip Network, retired after 21 years of teaching
- Sam Williams, professor of counseling and Fulp Chair of biblical counseling, retired after 23 years of teaching
- Nate Brooks was hired to faculty as associate professor of counseling
- Scott Pace was elected provost and dean of graduate studies and Keith Whitfield returned to full-time teaching as associate professor of theology
- Chuck Lawless was named director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership
- Seth Bible was elected vice president of undergraduate studies and dean of The College at Southeastern
- Steve McKinion and Tate Cockrell were installed as endowed chairs, McKinion as the John Leadley Dagg Chair of systematic theology and Cockrell as the Fulp Chair of biblical counseling
New Year, Same Mission
As we enter the new year, Southeastern Seminary and The College at Southeastern remain focused on the mission of equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. It is our desire as a Great Commission college and seminary to champion the truth of Scripture, the centrality of the Great Commission, and the priority of the local church.
As we continue to train men and women for Great Commission ministry in all walks of life, would you join us in praying for God to guide and bless our efforts to equip generations of faithful disciple makers?
- Pray that our students would be abiding in Jesus, encouraged in their ministries, faithful to their families, and built up in Christ by their studies at Southeastern.
- Pray for our distance learning students around the world — many of whom are already serving on staff at churches or other ministries or are on the field as missionaries.
- Pray that our faculty and administration would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to teach and lead in faithfulness to God’s word and his mission.
- Pray for our students, staff, and faculty on upcoming institutional mission trips to equip local believers, share the gospel with love and clarity, and encourage partnering churches and missionaries on the field.
- Pray for Danny Akin as he enters his twentieth year as president, asking God to grant him continued grace and strength as he leads Southeastern to glorify King Jesus.
To learn more about Southeastern, visit sebts.edu and collegeatsoutheastern.com where you can sign up for the Southeastern newsletter, read more about what is happening around campus, and find out how Southeastern can equip you to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission wherever God sends you.