PHOENIX, Ariz. (SWBTS) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary honored two distinguished alumni whose ministries have impacted Texas during the annual alumni luncheon at the SBC annual meeting, June 15. Alumni and friends of the seminary also heard a president’s report from Paige Patterson and elected alumni association officers.
Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, and David Allen, dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern, were honored with 2011 distinguished alumni awards.
Jeffress has served as pastor of FBC Dallas since 2007, but he also has a lifelong connection with the historic Southern Baptist church. He grew up attending the church and put his faith in Christ at age 7 under the preaching of W.A. Criswell. Later, he served as the church’s youth minister.
Jeffress earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Southwestern in 1998 and served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Eastland, Texas, as well as First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. He makes regular appearances on national radio and television programs and has authored 16 books.
“I think all of us are glad that we lived to see the renaissance of Southwestern Seminary under the strong leadership of Dr. Patterson,” Jeffress said upon receiving his award. He acknowledged the great support and contributions of his family to his ministry, saying, “Any good thing that has happened to me or through me is simply because of the grace of the God we all serve.”
David Allen joined Southwestern’s faculty as professor of preaching and dean of the School of Theology in 2004. Prior to that, he served as pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, and as the W.A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching, professor of preaching, and director of the Jerry Vines institute of Biblical Preaching at the Criswell College.
Allen earned his Master of Divinity from Southwestern in 1981. He also served on the seminary’s board of trustees from 1992 to 2004. He has authored and edited many books, including the volume on Hebrews in The New American Commentary series, The Lukan Authorship of Hebrews, Text-Driven Preaching, and The Return of Christ.
“It’s been a privilege to be a part of Southwestern,” Allen said. “I love this place. It is a joy to serve here.” After thanking his family for their impact on his life and ministry, Allen echoed Patterson’s comments in his SBC seminary report about an atmosphere of revival on Southwestern’s campus.
“There is something amazing, a revival that is happening on this campus,” Allen said. “I cannot explain it other than that God is doing it. Our students are so fired up about evangelism and soul winning. It is a remarkable thing to see.”
Patterson also addressed luncheon attendees and gave a report of what is happening on seminary hill. He announced the date of Dec. 1 as the dedication ceremony of the new chapel and invited everyone to attend. In addition to a ribbon cutting ceremony, Patterson said the dedication will include a worship service with the Word of God being sung and preached.
“We believe there will be people there that day who need to make a decision for Christ, and we will see people saved,” Patterson said. “There’s no better way to inaugurate a building than to see people come to Christ.”
Patterson also announced the six-month exhibition of the seminary’s Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient biblical artifacts on campus beginning in July 2012. The seminary anticipates as many as 500,000 visitors to the exhibition, which will not only explain the value of the scrolls to biblical studies but will also present the Gospel.
In addition to sharing about the new bachelor’s program in biblical studies, new student housing, and additions to Southwestern’s homemaking program, Patterson spoke about the goal of the seminary to train special forces for Gospel advance around the world.
“[Students] not only come out knowing Hebrew, Greek, the exposition of God’s Word and theology, but they come out knowing exactly how you translate that into reaching the world for Jesus Christ,” Patterson said.
In election of national alumni officers, Tommy French, pastor emeritus of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., was elected president and Mark Hartman, pastor of Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Houston, was elected vice president.