On the eve of the seminary’s centennial anniversary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s quarterly alumni magazine celebrates the institution’s Texas heritage. The theme of the summer 2007 issue of Southwestern News magazine is “We Are Texas!”, and it features profiles of alumni and students who are ministering throughout Texas.
Texas has an area exceeding 260,000 square miles and is by far the largest state in the contiguous United States. Geographers have identified seven distinct regions within the state: the Piney Woods region in the east, the Prairies and Lakes region in the north central part, the Hill Country in the center, the Gulf Coast region on the southeast coast, the South Texas Plains in the south, Big Bend Country in the west, and the vast Panhandle Plains in the north. In every region of Texas, Southwestern Seminary alumni and students are ministering and preaching the gospel.
“If [this] volume of Southwestern News doesn’t ignite your spiritual fires, then I’m not sure what it would take,” Southwestern President Paige Patterson wrote in his introductory letter. “Bound in the pages that follow are exemplary stories of the way in which God is using some of the greatest pastors in Christendom today … Of course, God is using our graduates literally all over the earth since, as one of my predecessors Robert Naylor used to say, ‘The sun never sets on Southwestern Seminary.’”
With photographs and articles, the stories are told of Southwestern alumni and students who are making an impact for Jesus Christ all over Texas. The ministry of the seminary itself represents the north central region. The following stories are filed from the other regions.
- Matthew McKellar is pastor of Sylvania Church in Tyler. He is a two-time graduate and former seminary trustee. Through intensive prayer and practical ministry to the poor, he leads his church to reach out to the people of East Texas.
- Cliff Lea in Corpus Christi is the pastor of Yorktown Baptist Church. He grew up on the seminary campus as the youngest child of Tommy Lea, former dean of Southwestern Seminary’s School of Theology. Cliff Lea shares how his father impacted his ministry to the vibrant coastal community in Texas’ eighth largest city.
- J.K. Minton is a former nuclear submariner who is the director of missions for the Bluebonnet Baptist Association in New Braunfels. He and his wife Ruth share hilarious stories from their early days at the seminary. Today, Minton’s church planting leadership has led to an explosion of church starts among the beautiful topography of Texas’ central Hill Country.
- Byron McWilliams became the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Odessa after a successful career as an accountant with Shell Oil Company. He received his seminary degree through the seminary’s Houston-based J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies. Using programs such as FAITH, AWANA and “The One Revolution,” McWilliams now leads his church to reach families to faith in Jesus Christ.
- Doctoral student Brad Jurkovich is the pastor of a dynamic new church in Lubbock called Victory Baptist Church. As the church plans to build a new sanctuary, Jurkovich applies classic principles of expository preaching with contemporary ideas of worship and ministry to families to lead his congregation to reach the people of Panhandle Plains.
- In recognition of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting being held in San Antonio this year, students of the seminary’s William R. Marshall Center for Theological Studies in San Antonio are the focus of articles about ministry in the South Texas Plains. William Hornbuckle and Bobby Paul are students who are not only preparing academically, but are actively ministering to San Antonio residents at the same time. Dean Rudy Gonzalez also files a report on the seminary’s ministry in San Antonio.
In addition to the feature articles, the summer issue of Southwestern News contains news and information about life on the Fort Worth campus over the past semester. There are articles commemorating the ministries of 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients Miss Judy Robertson a retired International Mission Board missionary to Taiwan who now lives in Fayetteville, Ark., and Dr. Hayes Wicker Jr., the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Naples, Fla.
Finally, this issue presents a profile of alumnus Justin Peters. Born with cerebral palsy, Peters serves as a staff evangelist at the First Baptist Church of Vicksburg, Miss. Through his ministry, he travels throughout the United States and overseas with a message to churches about the dangers of the heretical Word of Faith movement as exemplified by televangelists such as Benny Hinn, Jesse DuPlantis, Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen.
About Peters, President Patterson wrote: “From the perspective of one who has had a physical disability all his life and yet who has a great faith in the Lord, Evangelist Peters, like the Apostle Paul, has heard the voice of the Lord saying to him, ‘in your weakness is my strength made perfect.’ Justin Peters’ thorn in the flesh has become an occasion for the glory of God, and this issue tells you not only why that is so, but why your church needs to hear the presentation that he makes on the ‘Word of Faith Movement.’”Southwestern News magazine can be viewed online at www.swbts.edu/swnews. For a free subscription or a copy of the current issue, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (817) 923-1921 ext. 4848.