Our Help and Hope

David S. Dockery
| Nov 28, 2022

Editor’s note: this article appears in the Fall 2022 issue of Southwestern News.

More than 300 years ago, Isaac Watts penned the words to one of his greatest hymns, “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.” We genuinely want to express once again, as has been the case on numerous occasions during the history of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, that our only hope for the years to come is our eternal, triune God. Since 1908, Southwesterners, for more than eleven decades, have recognized the Lord God as our help and our hope. We ask you to join us in trusting the Lord for the future of this wonderful institution.

THE SOUTHWESTERN TRADITION

We are grateful to God for those who have led, for those who have taught, and for those who have served and shaped Southwestern through the years. For B. H. Carroll’s vision, for L. R. Scarborough’s leadership, for Roy Fish’s evangelistic zeal, for Floy Barnard’s commitment to students, for Curtis Vaughan’s commitment to the study of the Scriptures, for James Leo Garrett’s scholarship, and for Cal Guy’s heart for the nations, and for so many others who have invested much in the Southwestern community, we are truly and immensely thankful. 

Those who currently serve at Southwestern Seminary are committed to reclaiming and advancing the best of this distinctive Southwestern heritage. From the campus in Fort Worth, men and women have been prepared to serve the Lord in every portion of the world. We long to see the Lord raise up a new generation who will serve as instruments of grace to bring renewal to the churches, and to extend the Gospel to the ends of the earth. 

CARRYING FORTH THE SOUTHWESTERN TRADITION

In this issue of Southwestern News, you will see markers of these commitments evidenced in the work of many, including Matt Queen, Amy Crider, Greg Wills, Joshua Waggener, and numerous others. The accounts in this issue reflect echoes of Carroll’s vision, Scarborough’s leadership, Fish’s zeal, the warm-hearted teaching and scholarship of Vaughan and Garrett, Barnard’s love for students, and Guy’s heart for the nations. Students, who now come to Southwestern from every portion of the country and every region of the world, are privileged to learn from the current members of the gifted Southwestern faculty and staff.

PRAYERS FOR WISDOM

These markers and commitments represent the priorities that remain at the forefront of what we seek to do all across the Southwestern community, even during this time of transition. We find ourselves at this moment needing to discern and distinguish between those things that are imperative, those things that are important, and those things that are good. During this season, the seminary will work diligently to carry out those things which are imperative to advance the institutional mission, seeking to do so in a God-honoring way. The seminary will prioritize and evaluate those things that are important, seeking to discern what initiatives and programs can and should be done at this time. 

We all, also, need to recognize there will be a need to press pause on many good things, even things that add value to the seminary community. It has been stressed in recent days with the Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff that the Southwestern community needs to adjust its mindset to an essentialist approach regarding the use of institutional resources in the months ahead.

PRAYERS FOR GOD’S MERCY AND FAVOR

Southwestern is facing serious financial challenges that have been building in recent months, but which also reflect multi-faceted matters covering a number of years. Southwestern is not in a crisis, but these challenges could quickly escalate to a crisis if we do not aggressively move to address these challenges. Strategic efforts to address these challenges have already begun. We ask you to join us in praying that God, in His mercy, would once again grant His favor, grace, and blessing to the Southwestern community. 

I am genuinely grateful for the joyful privilege to serve together with O. S. Hawkins and the members of the Board of Trustees, as well as the Southwestern faculty, staff, and students. I am grateful for those who have faithfully coordinated prayer gatherings across the campus and in the churches. Already, hundreds and hundreds of people from across the country and from around the globe have pledged their prayers for Southwestern in the months ahead. Might you also join us in regularly claiming and praying Psalm 90:17 for the Southwestern community? We also ask for you to prayerfully consider making a gift to Southwestern at this strategic time in the life of the seminary.

OUR HELP AND OUR HOPE

We are trusting the Lord to unite the Southwestern family so that with one mind and one heart we can take steps forward to advance the Southwestern mission. For the churches, alumni, and friends who have stood with Southwestern through the years, we are most thankful. We ask you to join with us one more time as we work to “tell the generations following” of God’s faithfulness to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

And, with Isaac Watts, we pray that our loving and covenant keeping God, who is our help and our hope, will “still be our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home.”

David S. Dockery (’81) is interim president of Southwestern Seminary.