Faithfulness of Terry School, SCMW marked during centennial anniversary celebration

Katie Coleman

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Leaders of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary remembered the faithfulness of God and His servants in the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries and School of Church Music and Worship (SCMW) during a centennial anniversary celebration dinner for both schools, Oct. 18.

In attendance were retired “legacy” faculty of both schools, current faculty and staff, and trustees who were on campus for their annual board meeting.

President Adam W. Greenway recognized the distinct traits of each school at Southwestern Seminary and reflected the commitment to a “strong and vibrant renewal” of each.

“Each and every school of this seminary has a unique and important contribution in the holistic training of God-called men and women preparing for the various kinds of Christian service into which God deploys people. Every school matters, and it matters to me,” said Greenway.

Greenway also noted the pacesetting status of both schools, which were the first of their kind and today are “the last freestanding schools of their kind at any accredited seminary in North America. The legacy is rich, and the future is bright.”

“I can assure you there will be a School of Church Music and Worship here at Southwestern Seminary, and there will be a School of Educational Ministries here at Southwestern Seminary,” Greenway told the gathering.

The celebration reflected on each school’s heritage, both founded in 1915 as departments and elevated to school status in 1921 with J.M. Price leading what was then known as the School of Religious Education and I.E. Reynolds leading what was then known as the School of Gospel Music.

David S. Dockery, interim provost and vice president for academic administration, delivered opening remarks on both schools’ legacies of pioneers in educational ministries and church music.

Reflecting on the history of theological education in the areas of educational ministries and church music, Dockery noted the changes that took place in the early 20th century with a new focus on age-specific education ministries and Sunday school programs. At the same time, changes were taking place in church music and worship practices.

As these changes took place, Dockery said Price and Reynolds led a new era of Christian educational training and church music at Southwestern Seminary, with dozens of faithful faculty members serving in the 100 years since.

“The rest, they say, is history,” Dockery said. “Southwestern Seminary boldly led the world of theological education in these two areas of study and continues to do so today under the capable visionary leadership of deans Michael Wilder and Joe Crider. As we celebrate the centennial anniversary of these two schools tonight, let us join together to thank our providential God for His blessings to Southwestern through the influence of these two schools.”

First offering reflections on the Terry School faculty, Professor of Student Ministry Richard Ross, who has served on the school’s faculty since 2000, recalled the men and women who faithfully served at Southwestern Seminary and impacted his own education and ministry.

“When I arrived on this campus almost 50 years ago and became part of what is now the Terry School, I said early on, the faculty here are faithful,” Ross said. “In fact, some of those that have joined us here this evening as legacy faculty taught me in those days.”

When faculty consider their motivation for service, Ross said the consistent mindset is, “I’m doing this for Jesus and I’m doing this for the students. I can put up with almost anything for the sake of Christ and for the sake of the students who are going to become faithful ministers out in the churches. That is what makes a person faithful to the task.”

“When you have faithful faculty, you end up with faithful students who become faithful alumni, who themselves go out and have ripples of influence for the Kingdom coming out of their lives,” Ross told the gathering.

Some of these faithful alumni include Norma Hedin, provost at Dallas Baptist University, who also served as professor of foundations of education in the Terry School from 1990-2007; Jeff Young, executive pastor at Champion Forest in Houston, Texas; and Jonathan Williams, founder of Gospel Family Ministries. Each graduate was featured in a special video with testimonies of their current ministry service, as well as reminiscing about their time spent with the faculty.

“Southwestern is focused on developing godly leaders, godly leaders who develop others,” said Jeff Young, a 1989 graduate of the Terry School. “Congratulations on 100 years of investing in people. You made a difference in my life and I’m forever grateful.”

Envisioning another 100 years of faithfulness, Dean Michael S. Wilder offered his own reflections.

“As recipients of such a great stewardship, we too are called to faithfulness in this generation,” Wilder said. “And because of all that we have been given, may I suggest tonight that our stewardship requires even greater works than those who have gone before us. We have more resources, more global connections, more technology, more opportunities than all preceding generations combined.”

In the last two years, Wilder said, the faculty has worked to clarify and strengthen its vision to equip Great Commission ministers to teach and lead and disciple with excellence. Such excellence, he said, is accompanied by academic rigor, teaching excellence, a competency-shaped, and a church-partnered approach.

“Truly, the opportunity that the last 100 years has given this school and this seminary to shape Christian education has been vast, but it’s my estimation that we have barely begun to imagine what work can and will be accomplished in our generation as we seek to equip men and women to teach, lead, disciple, and counsel with excellence,” Wilder said. “May our generation be found faithful as the pioneering spirit of the early days propels us forward. May our generation be known for even greater works so that our Heavenly Father will be glorified.”

On behalf of the SCMW, R. Allen Lott, professor of music history since 1986, offered reflections on the school and a century of talented musicians, composers, singers, church leaders, and scholars who served on the faculty.

“These men and women have pursued excellence in their musical craft, not for the accolades of the world, but for the glory of God,” Lott said. “They committed themselves wholeheartedly to using their skills and experience for the purpose of training and mentoring students who have gone throughout the world to serve God’s people and help lead them into the presence of the Lord.”

After sharing some personal anecdotes of times serving with a faithful faculty, Lott also reflected on the alumni who came to the SCMW in obedience to God’s calling on their life and committed to prepare.

“It has been such an encouragement to me over the decades to see how these students have been used by God around the globe serving as performers, composers, worship pastors, denominational leaders, college and seminary professors, missionaries, and a myriad of other roles in furthering the Kingdom,” said Lott.

Video testimonies were offered by three SCMW graduates: Don Blackley, worship pastor at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, and director of Singing Men of North Central Texas; James Cheesman, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas; and Matt Perkinson, associate pastor of worship at First Baptist Church of Keller, Texas.

Blackley, who earned a master’s in church music in 1966, said, “Happy 100th birthday, School of Church Music and Worship. I look forward with great anticipation for what the Lord will do in the next 100 years, or until Christ comes again as we train the next generation of worship leaders at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. You were an important blessing of the Lord on my life and my ministry.”

In comments on the legacy of the SCMW, Dean Joseph R. Crider remarked on the significance of remembering the past and those who came before.

“There’s something powerfully encouraging about remembering because in the intentional recalling of events and the intentional recalling of people, we see the faithful work of God throughout the ages, and even in our individual lives,” Crider said. “I am so blessed to work with a godly and talented and faithful faculty in the School of Church Music and Worship.” 

Similar to Reynolds’ founding principles for the SCMW, Crider said the school’s current principles look to the future with the vision to be a school built on biblical faithfulness, musical excellence, and ministry service.

“And through changes in culture and musical styles, and so many other variables, may God find us faithful in training our students to serve our churches until Christ comes again,” Crider said. “The church right now is in desperate need of God-called, well-trained, theologically sound, and personally consecrated pastors and worship leaders and ministry leaders. And we pray that we be faithful in our service to those students that he brings to us and to Christ.”

Before Jack D. Terry closed with a benediction, Greenway offered a special word of recognition for his 53 years of service to the seminary. 

“You are a living inspiration to all of us who are Southwesterners and you have lived more than half of the history of the school that so proudly bears your name,” Greenway said.

Terry has had uninterrupted service on the faculty of the school since 1969, and has served in other capacities at the seminary, including vice president for institutional advancement and now as special assistant to the president.

“B.H. Carroll had faith and hoped. LR. Scarborough had faith and hoped.  J.M. Price had faith and hoped. I.E. Reynolds had faith and hoped. What they had hoped is here. By their faithfulness, we stand in the shadow of great men and women of faith,” Terry said.

The evening program also featured musical presentations from the Southwestern A Capella and Professor of Voice Ben C. Caston, with Lott on piano.

Participants at the centennial celebration received commemorative booklets for each school with a historical timeline of major developments and vignettes of particularly notable faculty for each school. The booklets are available for download on the seminary’s website: Terry School and the SCMW.

Also available to participants at the dinner were copies of new books published by Seminary Hill Press celebrating both schools: Scripture-Guided Worship, written by Crider, and Christian Education on the Plains of Texas, Revised and Expanded, written by Terry.