Presidential search committee approved, executive committee actions ratified during fall trustee meeting


Alex Sibley


Southwestern Seminary’s board of trustees affirmed the presidential search committee, ratified the actions of the executive committee, and conducted other business during their fall meeting, Oct. 15-17. In addition to their meeting, the trustees enjoyed multiple opportunities for personal interaction with Southwestern students and faculty. Interim President D. Jeffrey Bingham characterized this time as “three days of renewal, three days of refreshment, three days of amazing, God-given unity.”

The general session of the trustee meeting began with a report from Bingham, who cited Philippians 3:13-14 as inspiration for this period in Southwestern’s history. Focusing especially on Paul’s notion of “pressing on,” Bingham said that, with the past behind, Southwestern now presses on with a fresh commitment to the institution’s core mission: “to train God-called men and women for service to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and to the unreached world, all to the glory and praise of the one true God.”

“This is our mission, this is our purpose, this is our core understanding for why Southwestern Seminary exists,” Bingham said. “Everything we do now focuses around this core.”

Bingham declared that Southwestern remains “the best place to come” in order to learn to preach, to do personal evangelism, to do personal discipleship, to do theological scholarship, to plant churches, to assist a church with its educational program, and to bless the people of God with sacred music. “Southwestern Seminary is the best place to come to be trained as a Gospel servant to fulfill the needs of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and to meet the needs of the lost throughout the world,” he said. 

Bingham concluded, “And so, … with a refreshed orientation toward the goal that is at the core of everything we do at Southwestern Seminary, once again I say, with the Lord Jesus Christ ascended above us, with the Holy Spirit of God within us, and with the Kingdom of God before us, Southwestern Seminary moves forward to a new day, a bright day, in regular, eager anticipation of that day in which the Lord Jesus Christ returns.”

Following Bingham’s report, the board of trustees voted to ratify the actions of the executive committee since the board’s last full meeting. 

The board then voted to affirm the presidential search committee, appointed by chairman Kevin Ueckert this past August. Prior to hearing an update from committee chairman Danny Roberts, all the trustees gathered around the committee for a time of focused prayer. 

Roberts then shared about the progress of the committee, which has formally met twice; received “dozens of recommendations” for presidential candidates; and appointed a faculty/student advisory committee that has since organized four town hall meetings, three prayer sessions, and conducted a survey of students, faculty and staff. All of these elements will aid the search committee in building a “presidential profile,” Roberts said, which will be “an important part of what we use to discern God’s man for this position.”

Roberts concluded, “We have made great progress, we feel very encouraged, and we are firmly convinced that the Lord is going to lead us directly to the man whom He has already called.”

In other business, the trustees accepted the recommendation of the Academic Administration Committee for said committee to meet with the administration between now and the spring board meeting to “review urgent proposed changes to the seminary’s curricula and present a recommendation to the executive committee for final adoption of those changes.” 

Furthermore, Craig Blaising was promoted to distinguished research professor of theology and Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology, effective immediately. 

Beyond the general session and individual committee meetings, the trustees also engaged the campus community through such activities as a “Tacos with Trustees” dinner led by an “Open Mic Night” student talent show, and a faculty-trustee dinner. Trustees also participated in several working lunches, where they received training and heard from the administration on the forward-thinking changes implemented since the summer and the opportunities available for remainder of 2018 and beginning of 2019. Finally, Southwestern welcomed trustee Jonathan Leeman, editorial director for 9Marks, as its chapel speaker on Tuesday, Oct. 16.