Southwestern Seminary announces Center for Global Evangelical Theology, honors three scholars with inaugural awards

Ashley Allen
| Nov 22, 2021

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Adam W. Greenway announced the Center for Global Evangelical Theology and presented awards to three scholars during the seminary’s alumni and friends’ reception on Nov. 17 during the 73rd annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), held in Fort Worth, Nov. 16-18. 

In his welcome to the gathered Southwestern Seminary alumni and friends, Greenway provided updates regarding campus news, including the October announcement of Gregory A. Wills as the new dean of the School of Theology, effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Greenway announced the relaunch of what was previously known as the Center for Evangelical Theology.

“Some years ago, the seminary established a center for theological research that has gone dormant in recent years and I'm pleased to announce that we are relaunching that center effective tonight as the Center for Global Evangelical Theology that will be housed at Southwestern seminary,” Greenway shared with the attendees.

Recalling the expression coined by Robert E. Naylor, the seminary’s fifth president, “the sun never sets on Southwestern,” Greenway explained there are alumni serving in every time zone around the world “helping to bring the best of Baptist and evangelical theology to the mission field and to the nations.”

Greenway said there are currently 70 different countries represented in the Southwestern Seminary student body, with 530 students currently pursing Spanish-language theological education and over 100 students who are receiving Mandarin-language education. 

“For the first time in our history, since we were chartered March 14, 1908, Southwestern Seminary became a majority non-Anglo institution, as more than half of our student body now is something other than people who look like me,” Greenway said. “We truly are one step closer to becoming a Revelation 7:9 seminary. A seminary that looks like what eternity is going to look like with leaders from every tribe, every tongue, every nation, every people who are worshipping before the throne of the one true living God. Southwestern Seminary is truly becoming a global evangelical seminary.”

David S. Dockery, interim provost and vice president for academic administration, presented three inaugural academic awards.

Timothy F. George, George H. Guthrie, and Thomas S. Kidd, were announced earlier this month as the recipients of awards focusing on theological academic contributions to the church in Scripture and Christian thought. The award recipients were nominated by the faculties of Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College (TBC). Two of the awards are named in honor of longtime Southwestern Seminary faculty members, W. Curtis Vaughan and James Leo Garrett Jr., who were also widely respected scholars in their fields.

“We're going to do something tonight that is significant and that is we are inaugurating a series of awards that we plan to present each year at ETS to distinguished scholars and individuals who have made a mark that we believe is consonant with the best of the Southwestern Seminary tradition of theological excellence,” Greenway said of the awards.

The James Leo Garrett Jr. Award was presented to Kidd. The award, named after the late distinguished professor of theology at Southwestern Seminary, honored Kidd for his contributions to the church in Christian thought in the areas of research, scholarship, teaching, and service. Kidd, who has taught as the James Vardaman Endowed Professor of History at Baylor University since 2002, will begin teaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as full-time residential research professor of church history in the fall of 2022. Kidd has served the Missouri-based seminary as distinguished visiting professor of Church History since 2019. 

Noting his “incredibly long” publication list, Dockery said Kidd “writes things faster than most of us can read them and we are indebted to him for his great services and great contribution to the evangelical cause.” 

“This is a great honor,” Kidd told the audience. “I went back and thought a little bit about James Leo Garrett’s career and was reminded of his deep connections to Baylor and to Waco where I think he ... became a believer and also was ordained to ministry. So, this is a special honor for me and I'm so thankful for the work that you all are doing here.”

Guthrie, who earned his Master of Divinity (1984) and Doctor of Philosophy (1991) degrees from Southwestern Seminary, received the W. Curtis Vaughan Award. The award, named in honor of the late distinguished professor of New Testament at the seminary, honors the individual who has displayed excellence in research, scholarship, teaching, and service for the church in Christian Scripture. Guthrie currently serves as professor of New Testament at Regent College in British Columbia and previously taught 28 years at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

Observing that both Guthrie and Vaughan were Union University and Southwestern Seminary alumni, Dockery said Guthrie is “an outstanding scholar and one who carries on the Curtis Vaughan tradition with excellence.”

Guthrie, who accepted his award in absentia, remarked in a video recording played for the audience that he and Vaughan shared connections, as Vaughan’s first sermon in a small Tennessee was the same church where Guthrie held his first church staff role. Guthrie explained this allowed the two to become “fast friends.”

“Curtis epitomized the integration of biblical studies with a life of discipleship lived for Christ for the advancement of the cause of Christ in the world,” Guthrie said. “So, I'm deeply honored by this award. May God bless you as you continue to carry out that mission and live out the legacy of men like Curtis Vaughan.”

George received the Southwestern Seminary Lifetime Achievement Award. The author of more than 20 books, George is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Since May 2020 he has served as distinguished professor of theology at Beeson. In addition to his academic contributions, George has served churches in Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Alabama.

Dockery said the Southwestern Seminary Lifetime Academic Achievement Award honors an individual who has made “incredible contribution to the life of Baptist and evangelical scholarship.” 

“We owe Timothy George a great debt of gratitude for his service to the academy, to the church, and to each one of us,” Dockery said of the inaugural award recipient.

“Thank you so much,” George said to the gathering as he accepted his award. “I love Southwestern Seminary. The many times I've been here over the years, our lives have been influenced in so many ways by those who have taught here, and students I've met, pastors I've met, [and] some of my colleagues at Beeson have Southwestern roots. So, I'm indeed honored to receive this award. I don't feel worthy of it. There are a lot of people who much more deserve it than I do, but I'll take it.”

In concluding the presentation, Dockery said, “These awards, in many ways, exemplify the best of Baptist and evangelical scholarship in the areas of Christian thought and biblical studies and then in the breadth of work that Dr. George has done. Also, they signify Southwestern’s commitment to that level of scholarship, to engage in that particular way across these various fields and to give thanks and recognition for these who have plowed the way for so many of us and given us aspirational goals to which we can seek to attain.”