HOUSTON, Texas (SWBTS) – Denny Autrey, dean of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies, welcomed guests to the fall convocation service on the Houston campus, Aug. 27.

Autrey introduced newly elected faculty member Paul L. Chen, assistant professor of Old Testament at the Havard School. During the service, he signed the seminary’s book of confessional heritage which Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost of the seminary, noted is a symbolic tradition indicating agreement to teach in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged students to fulfill their calling to the ministry with passion. From Revelation 3, Patterson focused on the Lord’s message to the church in Laodicea.

In his introduction, he addressed the significance of Laodicea’s position in a tri-city area. On the mountains of the city of Hierapolis whitecaps of mineral deposits from thousands of hot springs flowed into the river which ran through Laodicea in the valley. By the time the river reached Laodicea, the mineral water had cooled to a lukewarm temperature, making it distasteful, Patterson said. Nearby Colossae had a naturally cool stream of refreshing and pure water flowing out from the mountainside.

With this setting as a background, Patterson exhorted the students to be conscientious and passionate messengers of the Gospel. while heeding the Lord’s chastisement of the church in Laodicea. The Lord was disgusted with their lukewarmness, wishing they were either a hot, healing spring of water, as in Hierapolis, or a refreshing, cold drink of water, as in Colossae, Patterson said.

Patterson reminded his audience of the Lord’s response to the Laodicean’s condition in verse 16: “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” He also cautioned his audience to avoid self-sufficiency as characterized by the church at Laodicea.

The president concluded his challenge for passionate ministry by saying, “Your assignment, upon completing your work here, is to step out into the world and take that cup of refreshing water to a famished soul that needs to know the Lord Jesus Christ as savior and bring healing to their hurting soul.”