Alumni and friends of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary received a seminary update during the alumni luncheon at the 2017 BCNM Annual Meeting.
Pastor Jay McCollum, First Baptist Church, Gallup, spearheaded an effort to revive New Mexico’s SWBTS alumni association. His efforts visibly culminated with a gathering of approximately 30 people at a luncheon provided by the seminary. The luncheon was held at lunch on Tuesday, just before the start of the BCNM’s Annual Meeting. The catered lunch featured Dickey’s Barbecue.
McCollum faced challenges in getting the word out to alumni. Changes in privacy law prevented the seminary from releasing alumni records of contact information. To assist, the seminary offered to send out messages regarding future alumni meetings in the state on behalf of the restarted association. At the meeting McCollum solicited contact information from those in attendance to begin creating a roster of alumni in the state.
Professor Tommy Kiker represented the seminary at the luncheon. He serves as associate professor of pastoral theology, James T. Draper Jr. Chair of Pastoral Ministry, and chair of the seminary’s pastoral ministry department. As a former pastor, he blogs about pastoral ministry on his personal website, tommykiker.com. He is married and has two children.
In his report, Kiker described the seminary’s newest facility, Mathena Hall. The building was named after Harold and Patricia Mathena, who donated the first $12 million for the building. The Mathenas were able to attend the building’s Oct. 18, 2017, dedication. Mr. Mathena reflected upon his role, saying, “It is an amazing thing … that a cotton-picker from East Texas would be able to participate in such an endeavor as this … . It is nothing short of miraculous.” The building features a Lottie Moon historical museum exhibit and a Martyrs' Walk of Southern Baptists who have made the ultimate sacrifice of becoming martyrs in ministry. It houses the seminary’s Scarborough College and the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. Kiker emphasized that both the seminary’s MacGorman Chapel and Mathena Hall are debt free.
Kiker also encouraged churches to participate in the Revive This Nation program, a seminary program that sends student and staff preachers to lead revivals in churches across America. The program pays for the revival preacher’s travel expenses, Kiker said. Churches can find out more about the program and request a revival preacher by visiting the program’s online page in Southwestern’s website: swbts.edu/campus-life/revive-nation/.
Kiker also thanked churches for contributing to the Cooperative Program. He described how CP is the seminary’s “No. 1” donor, having contributed approximately $370 million to the seminary since its inception.
When asked what events at the seminary could be beneficial to alumni, Kiker encouraged participants to attend the seminary’s preaching conference, invite a Revive This Nation preacher to their churches, and to visit the seminary during the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas. The seminary will be hosting a barbecue on its campus for SBC messengers who can stay through Wednesday evening, June 13. The seminary is hoping for 3,000 visitors from the SBC meeting.
Finally, Kiker described a program the seminary has begun for individuals who started a seminary degree but could not finish. Details of the program can be found online at FinishSeminary.Today. Scholarship money is available and degrees can be completed online, Kiker said.
Kiker said the seminary’s “best days are ahead; God is pouring resources into our campus.”
As a final action, Kiker helped the alumni association restart by appointing McCollum as the association president and Matt Henslee as the association vice president. The vice president will become the next president, he said. The group agreed to the arrangement. Henslee pastors Mayhill Baptist Church.