Dean J. Denny Autrey welcomed guests to the fall convocation of classes at Southwestern Seminary’s J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies, Aug. 28. He noted that this year marked the seminary’s 31st year of theological education in Houston. It is also the third year that Southwestern’s commitment to preparing the next generation of Christian leaders has benefited from the Havard campus’s status as a fully accredited, degree-granting institution.

During the service, President Paige Patterson recognized donors who have showed significant commitment to the mission of Southwestern Seminary in Houston.

Patterson acknowledged the contributions of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Leach. Their contribution funded an administrative office named in honor of Bob and Jo Ann Overton. Bob Overton is the associate dean,  director of applied ministries, and professor of pastoral ministries at the Havard School. His wife, Jo Ann, served as administrative assistant when Southwestern’s Houston center was located on the campus of Houston Baptist University.

Jack and Barbara Terry accepted from Patterson a posthumous award for Carliss and Lois Phillips; the Phillips gave the dean’s office suite in honor of the Terrys. Terry was vice president of institutional advancement at Southwestern when he retired last year after 37 years with the seminary. He now serves as vice president emeritus and special assistant to the president for development.

Bob and Dan Crawford were recognized for the gift of the development and faculty office suite given in honor of their father, Edwin Crawford, who served as Southwestern’s director of development under former President Robert Naylor, and was a key figure in establishing the seminary’s presence in Houston in 1975.

During the convocation ceremony the history of commitment was not only recognized in tangible contributions, but also symbolically through the signing of the seminary’s book of confessional heritage by Douglas A. Wood who was elected by trustees as associate professor of education and worship for the Havard School.

Signing the book represents the agreement of faculty members to teach in accordance with and not contrary to The Baptist Faith and Message 2000, the confession of faith of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In the convocation sermon, Patterson challenged the students and faculty to apply their commitment to the Lord by “preparing for Babylon when they have not really planned to go there.” He reminded his listeners of the experience that tested the commitment of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azaria in the Old Testament.

He noted these giants of faith found themselves in a place they never planned to enter – the captivity of Babylon. The president told students they will also encounter times when God will move them from their plan to His plan.

Patterson emphasized their seminary education will teach them the lessons from Daniel and his peers to first accept the providences of God. In addition, they will learn to access the knowledge of diverse cultures to assist their people to respond in an appropriate Christian way to those cultures.

Patterson’s closing point from the account in the book of Daniel was the imperative quality of uncompromising faith. He gave the students a heartfelt exhortation to “resolve the issue of moral commitment now.”

The fall 2006 Havard School convocation service once again confirmed the seminary’s commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ as its firm foundation.