Committee Finds That Southwest Baptist University Has Not Implemented Its Statement of Faith Effectively

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Southwest Baptist University’s (SBU) Statement of Faith has not been implemented effectively across the fabric of the university, according to an external peer assessment committee that completed its work there in June.

The committee, which was commissioned by SBU late last year, was led by David Dockery, chancellor of Trinity International University. In particular, the committee evaluated the key elements of Baptist distinctiveness that inform SBU’s identity as a Missouri Baptist institution. See related Baptist Press report.

According to an SBU press release, the committee also reported that, due to the lack of a clearly implemented Statement of Faith, the doctrinal position of SBU has been perceived as ambiguous.

“This lack of clarity has led to an erosion of trust between the University and Missouri Baptists,” the press release stated. “SBU and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) must work together to restore that trust.”

The committee completed its review and “responded appropriately to the SBU administration” in late June, Dockery told The Pathway in a June 26th email.

“The committee worked together for five months with the hope of providing help, guidance, and encouragement to the SBU community,” he said. “We trust that the recommendations from the committee will be helpful for President Turner and the SBU administration.”

Dockery added that the committee “will be glad to work with the SBU administration to comment further on our work when the SBU administration thinks that it would be helpful for us to do so.”

Mark Rains, chairman, SBU Board of Trustees, noted, “We appreciate the work of Dr. Dockery and the Peer Assessment Committee. We will now continue their work by digesting this assessment and working with SBU Administration to respond in a deliberate fashion.”

The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees will publicly release an executive summary of the review after it has been shared internally. With many employees not on campus during the summer, it will take a few weeks to accomplish internal communication.

SBU President Eric Turner also praised the work of the committee and is committed to lead the efforts needed to ensure the spiritual vitality of SBU.

“Dr. Dockery and the committee have accurately and effectively surmised the situation in which SBU has found herself,” Turner said. “Over the coming weeks and months, you will see evidence of SBU’s thoughtful response to this assessment.”

Turner noted the university is “currently working to clarify, boldly articulate and implement our Statement of Faith that will further align and strengthen our Baptist identity and Christian faith.

“Since my arrival at SBU, I have recognized the need for SBU to strengthen our relationship with the Missouri Baptist Convention and its churches. This assessment affirms that position,” he said. “We must collectively work together to rebuild trust between SBU and Missouri Baptists.”

MBC Executive Director John Yeats is encouraged by SBU’s response to the committee’s assessment.

“In the life of every institution with denominational roots, there are those moments in history to reinvigorate the core Biblical beliefs within the context of the educational environment,” Yeats said. “Dr. Dockery and his team, at the invitation of Dr. Turner, have assessed and provided a recommended framework to bring doctrinal and missional revival to SBU.”

Yeats noted he is “deeply encouraged that decisive and strategic implementation is characteristic of Dr. Turner’s leadership.

“This peer assessment is a welcomed tool for him and the SBU Board of Trustees to use as a guide in the days ahead,” Yeats said. “Pray for SBU as they work diligently to establish bold initiatives that demonstrate their alignment with Missouri Baptist churches.”

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Source: Baptist Press