FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary dedicated the Orville and Esther Beth Rogers Library in its J.W. MacGorman Chapel, Dec. 1.
The Rogers library is named in honor of ministry partners Orville Rogers and his late wife, Esther Beth, whose generous gifts undergirded the creation of the new library. It houses a special collection of sources on evangelism and expository preaching, as well as sources on historical, systematic and biblical theology.
Additionally, hand-carved panels, memorializing the great figures of Christian and Baptist history adorn the library. The library also features an aviation display that honors Rogers for his service to the Lord as a missionary pilot, as well as a memorial for their eldest son, Curtis, who was killed during a rescue mission in Vietnam while serving as a military helicopter pilot.
“Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary continues to expand its rich academic heritage this week as it dedicates two new libraries in the new MacGorman Chapel,” Berry Driver, dean of libraries at Southwestern Seminary, said prior to the dedication. “These constitute the seventh and eighth campus libraries, with both consisting of special collections.
“The Leta Phillips Library features archaeological artifacts and ancient biblical manuscripts, while the Orville and Esther Beth Rogers Library consists of materials supporting the seminary’s theology, preaching, evangelism, and missions programs. Both are ‘working libraries’ for research by students, faculty, visiting scholars, as well as information resources of interest to visitors on the campus.”
In 1993, Orville and Esther Beth received Southwestern Seminary’s B. H. Carroll Award as a token of appreciation for their constant support, and they were featured in the winter 2010 edition of the Southwestern News magazine.
Esther Beth passed away in March 2008, leaving a gift to Southwestern Seminary in her will, and Orville has continued their longstanding support of the seminary.
Prior to the dedication, Orville expressed his excitement about the new chapel and its impact on generations of ministers-in-training.
In 1940, Orville and Esther Beth enrolled in classes at Southwestern Seminary. They attended the seminary for a year, but their theological education was soon cut short by World War II. Receiving a draft notice, Orville decided to enlist as a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps.
After the war, Rogers and his wife returned to Texas, where he worked as a pilot for Braniff Airways for 31 years. When he retired in 1977, Rogers linked his expertise as a pilot with his lifelong passion for missions. He flew nearly 40 airplanes throughout the world for Wycliffe Bible Translators and their affiliate, the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JARS). He also served as a chairman of the board for JARS for 13 years and was on their board for a total of 39 years.
In the early 1980s, Orville and Esther Beth served for 13 months as Southern Baptist missionaries in Tanzania. Orville served as a missionary pilot, while Esther Beth operated the radio and managed the finances for the Southern Baptist mission team in Dar es Salaam.
“The Great Commission simply says, ‘Go you, therefore, into all the world and make disciples of all people in all the nations of the earth,’ and they have invested a life in supporting, engaging that and helping that to happen,” Keith Eitel, dean of the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, said of Orville and Esther Beth Rogers during the dedication of the library. Eitel encouraged those who attended the dedication to follow their example in reaching the world with the Gospel of Christ Jesus.