Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Reconnects With Former Faculty and Staff

Current SWBTS faculty member Malcolm Yarnell stands on his knees to speak with former preaching professor Jimmie Nelson, who taught at the seminary for 26 years, retiring in 1999. “I got down on my knees just so I could hear his voice again,” said Yarnell, research professor of systematic theology. “As a Southwestern Seminary graduate who was shaped by such great professors as Jimmie Nelson, I cannot tell you how I have longed deeply for this day.” SWBTS photo

Since becoming president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Adam W. Greenway has sought to reconnect with former faculty and staff — or, as he calls them, “legacy servants.”

Thus, Sept. 5 was a day that Greenway had looked forward to in welcoming a number of legacy servants from Southwestern’s history.

That day, Al Fasol, distinguished professor of preaching emeritus, preached in chapel and Greenway welcomed the Seniors of Southwestern — a fellowship of retired faculty and staff — as honored guests.

“As the first alumnus of our seminary to serve as president in a quarter-century, it’s very meaningful to me that all of our Southwestern family sense the love and the appreciation and the gratitude of our seminary for their service,” Greenway, who became Southwestern’s president in February, said in recognizing the retired faculty in chapel. “Because candidly, all of us who currently serve here at Southwestern Seminary, we are living in houses we did not build; we are drinking from wells we did not dig.

“There is a line of faithfulness that goes back through the generations of the men and women who gave selflessly to help build Southwestern Seminary into the crown jewel that she is today.”

Speaking of the legacy servants’ impact, Greenway said, “There are people who have had a more faithful ministry because you followed God’s calling to serve here at Southwestern Seminary when you could have done a lot of other things in a lot of other places. And that’s why it’s important for Southwestern Seminary to have this chance to say ‘thank you’ for what you’ve done. Our seminary is a better place because you have been here.”

Fasol, who began teaching at Southwestern Seminary in 1973, opened his sermon by sharing how pleased he was to “finally meet” the current students.

He recounted that, during orientation for new instructors back in 1973, he discussed with then-faculty members the cultural changes that would lead to difficult days for their children and grandchildren as Christians in the United States. One of those faculty members — the late Jack Gray, a professor of missions — said, “I think we’d better pray for those children and those grandchildren to come.”

“And we literally prayed for you 46 years ago,” Fasol said. “And we didn’t stop. Every semester — I’m sure it’s happening among the faculty even today — at the beginning of the year, we always prayed for the students — incoming, those who were here, those graduating, those recently graduated. There was always prayer for you going on.”

Drawing from the discussion 46 years ago, Fasol said there are at least two things modern-day Christians need in order to deal with changes that have occurred in society.

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Source: Baptist Press