Greenway charges students to focus on life transformation at fall convocation
In his first convocation service as president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Adam W. Greenway continued the longstanding tradition of pronouncing the incoming class of students “Southwesterners.” To emphasize the history and heritage behind such a pronouncement, however, Greenway did not deliver the charge himself, but rather appealed to a historic figure from the seminary’s past: Robert Naylor, the seminary’s fifth president, who began this tradition during his presidency.
New students, joined in MacGorman Chapel by returning students and faculty, directed their attention to the screens, which displayed a black-and-white photograph of the late Robert Naylor addressing a chapel audience. They then listened to a historic audio clip of Naylor pronouncing them Southwesterners.
“For good or ill, as long as you live, you’re a Southwesterner,” Naylor said in the audio clip from the seminary’s archives. “And I charge you before God that you make it in your own life a sacred name.
“It’s a name in the earth, as I’ve seen it across this world, that says something about how you feel about the Word of God: that it is God’s own unique Word. It says something about how you feel about lost people: that you care. It states a commitment on your part to the will of God in your own life.”
Naylor concluded, “You’ll not wear a more worthy name than that which I have given you today and which is made yours by your own choice. God bless you, my fellow Southwesterners.”
As students directed their attention back to the stage, Greenway said to them, “Indeed, as Dr. Naylor has said, I am pleased to pronounce you Southwesterners. Welcome home to the dome.”
This convocation service at Southwestern Seminary and Scarborough College, Aug. 27, marked the beginning of the institution’s 112th academic year since its founding in 1908. In addition to welcoming the new students, Greenway also related to them—and to the other assembled Southwesterners—a threefold assignment from Jesus as presented in Mark 3:13-15. Specifically, Greenway charged them to be with Jesus, to preach the Good News, and to do the work of Christ.
“Our first priority is not just to complete our assignments on time and to make progress through our degree plans and all of these kinds of things,” Greenway said regarding this foremost point. “We are called to be with Him, because we can never be to and for others what we are not with Him.”
Greenway continued that wherever God calls them, Christians are called to proclaim the Good News.
“Whatever your calling may be—as a faculty member, as a student, as a pastor—if you do not see your ministry as a ministry of helping people encounter Jesus in a life-changing and saving way, then there is something deficient in your understanding of calling,” Greenway said.
“We teach not just for the transmission of truth; we teach for the transformation of life. We teach so that the church of our Lord Jesus Christ might have a more faithful ministry, so that the things that have been revealed to us may be made known to a lost and dying world, to whom Christ came and for whom Christ died.”
Regarding Jesus’ granting His disciples authority to drive out demons, Greenway clarified that this means they—as well as modern-day Christians—have authority to do the work of Christ, which changes everything, including society itself.
“As we officially commence the 2019-2020 academic year of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Scarborough College, may, by God’s grace, this be our greatest year yet,” Greenway concluded. “Not for the name and fame of Southwestern Seminary, but so that Christ’s work may be more fulfilled a year from now than it is today, because God was pleased to use us—because we were with Him, [and] we were faithful to proclaim His Good News and to do His works by His authority as He led us in all things.”
In addition to preaching, Greenway also utilized the convocation service to formally welcome newly appointed faculty members—Joseph R. Crider, interim dean of the School of Church Music and Worship; Travis S. Kerns, associate professor of apologetics and world religions; Chuck T. Lewis, professor of church music and worship; Chris Shirley, professor of educational ministries; Michael S. Wilder, interim dean of the Terry School of Educational Ministries; and Gregory A. Wills, research professor of church history and Baptist heritage. In addition, Greenway announced that David S. Dockery, chancellor of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has joined the Southwestern Seminary faculty as professor of theology, theologian-in-residence, and special consultant to the president (read more here).
Finally, Greenway, along with Provost and Vice President for Academic Administration Randy L. Stinson, signed Southwestern Seminary’s book of confessional heritage, affirming their commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message.
“On a personal note, I must say, I have signed my name many places, many times, for many different reasons,” Greenway said after affixing his signature. “I must be honest: to think, 20 years after I was pronounced a Southwesterner, that I would have the privilege of sitting here to sign the confessional heritage as an elected faculty member and as your president means the world to me.”