Southwestern Seminary honors faithful supporters with Carroll, Scarborough awards

Katie Coleman
| Sep 15, 2021

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary honored two distinguished ministry partners for their generosity and support during the annual B.H. Carroll and L.R. Scarborough Awards Luncheon, Sept. 14. Jon L. Parnell received the B.H. Carroll Award, and Harold “Preacher” O’Chester received the L.R. Scarborough Award.

Luncheon attendees included the award recipients’ family and friends, former church members, seminary faculty and staff, trustees, and Southern Baptist Convention President Ed Litton, who spoke during a Q&A with President Adam W. Greenway in chapel earlier that morning.

“Southwestern Seminary has been nourished and sustained, built and expanded since our charter on March 14, 1908, by friends and people who the Lord has raised up,” even some who are not seminary graduates, but who “connected with our seminary and the Lord has used them to bless our seminary in ways that truly only eternity will fully reveal,” Greenway said.

The awards are named in honor of the founder and first president of the seminary, Carroll, and the second president, Scarborough, for whom the school’s evangelism academic chair—the “Chair of Fire”—is also named.

Parnell, the B.H. Carroll Award recipient, originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, now resides in Georgetown, Texas, where he is a member of Crestview Baptist Church. He opened his first Arby’s fast food restaurant franchise in 1969 and continued to grow the business over the years, still owning several locations today.

Known for his generosity to Christian ministries and Southwestern Seminary, Parnell funded the M.E. Dodd Classroom in Mathena Hall and established the Ina Crosby Parnell Chair for the Dean of Women.

Greenway recognized how the Lord has used Parnell’s success in business to bless the ministry and work of faculty, staff, and students at Southwestern Seminary.

“The Lord has been very kind to Southwestern Seminary because of the philanthropic generosity of Jon Parnell,” Greenway said.

O’Chester, the L.R. Scarborough Award recipient and a former pastor of Parnell, has devoted 70 years to ministry and preaching, with more than 15 years as senior pastor of the Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.

In a brief message, O’Chester reflected on the three primary ways God has blessed his years of ministry.

First, O’Chester said, “I was blessed to have a man like Jon Parnell as a member of my church. Every pastor needs a man or a woman with the gift of giving because when the rough times come and you need some help, you make an announcement from the pulpit, and then a fella like Jon Parnell stands up and sees me after a while and says, ‘I got that.’”

The second blessing, O’Chester said, was his wife of 64 years, Barbara.

“Very few people in the Southern Baptist Convention understand what this woman has done over the last 40 years,” O’Chester said, describing her role as a Bible teacher to women and facilitator of women’s conferences and retreats attended by thousands of Southern Baptist women over the years.

“And so, I want you to understand Southern Baptists owe a debt of gratitude” to her, O’Chester said.

The third blessing, O’Chester reflected, “refers to me and how I owe everything to Southern Baptists.”

O’Chester said Southern Baptists had a profound impact on his life, compelling him to financially give to Southern Baptist institutions over the years, including Southwestern Seminary.

“Why in the world would we do that? First of all, I didn’t have any inheritance,” O’Chester said. “I took it out of whatever savings I had. We did it because we love Southern Baptists.”

“So, I owe everything, we owe everything to Southern Baptists for what they did for us,” O’Chester concluded. “I just want you to know that doing what little bit I feel like I’ve done, I don’t deserve this honor.”

Since 1982, Southwestern Seminary has recognized through the awards ministry partners who have made significant contributions to the seminary. They are the highest awards given at Southwestern Seminary.