FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – While “hats off” is usually the appropriate expression to acknowledge an accomplishment, “hats on” seems to be a better match for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s centennial convocation, Jan. 17. To celebrate the century of theological training in Texas, the professors topped off their traditional attire with a not-so-traditional cowboy hat.

“Academic regalia in general is derived from medieval dress. Many of the hat designs reflect what was popular at that time,” said Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost of the seminary. “As Southwestern celebrates its centennial, we felt it was appropriate to wear a hat that reflects the time and location of this great school: a beaver felt western hat—black, in keeping with formal academic tradition.”

After welcoming both new and returning students, trustees and guests, Blaising introduced a special guest. As darkness filled the chapel auditorium, a spotlight revealed a large replica of the portrait of the seminary’s founder and first president, B.H. Carroll. What initially appeared to be a narrative voice soon developed into a drama presentation, as graduate student Matt Brandt, stepped through the frame, dressed to parallel the man in the portrait.

The dramatization re-created the meeting where Carroll proposed moving the seminary’s campus from Baylor University to Fort Worth. Seminary president Paige Patterson later revealed that this was the first of many performances to be presented throughout the year with the intention of educating students about the seminary’s history.

Patterson began his 12-part sermon series on “The Sermon on the Mount,” from Matthew 5. He stated his goal throughout the series is to lead individuals to realize “that the grace of God is the most incredible force in the world.”

Patterson admitted that it is impossible to put God’s blessings into words, but expressed that His blessings can be seen by God’s favor in our lives. “It’s all grace,” Patterson stated. “But there are things you can do to be blessed.” He supported his statement with the beatitudes, carefully examining the significance of biblical meekness, gentleness and mercy, among other qualities.

Patterson also reflected on the exciting events to take place throughout the centennial celebration, including breaking ground on a new homemaking house for the concentration in the College at Southwestern. He encouraged those in attendance to participate in what God has done in 100 years.

Two new elected faculty members signed the book of confessional heritage, which has been a tradition since fall 2002. This not only symbolizes their commitment to teach at the seminary, but to adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Elected faculty included Cky Carrigan, associate professor of missions, and Waylan Owens, associate professor of pastoral ministry. Appointed faculty members introduced were Laura Zettler, assistant professor of homemaking and director of the homemaking concentration for the College at Southwestern, and Abjar Bahkou, professor of missions in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

At the conclusion of the service, students were invited to the Naylor Student Center to enjoy a piece of Southwestern’s birthday cake. The faculty gathered on the steps of the Rotunda for a memorable photo, tipping their hats to Fort Worth and Southern Baptists as an expression of gratitude for 100 years of support.

Centennial events will continue throughout 2008, with a special Founder’s Day Celebration scheduled on March 14 to commemorate the day the institution was officially founded and a centennial graduation on May 9, 2008.