By Gary D. Myers
NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees have approved the establishment of an Adrian Rogers Center for Expository Preaching.
Additional initiatives also were approved during the trustees' fall meeting to enhance the training of local church pastors and other church leaders -- a Christian leadership major in the doctor of philosophy program and several enhancements to the seminary's master of divinity program.
"Dr. Adrian Rogers is one of the most significant alumni in the history of NOBTS -- well-known for a lifetime of excellent expository preaching," President Chuck Kelley said following the trustee meeting. "This center will enhance our ability to train students and prepare them to open God's Word and teach through great expository preaching over the years of their ministry."
Rogers, who died in 2005 after 33 years as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., earned the bachelor of divinity (equivalent to today's master of divinity) at NOBTS in 1958. The Memphis-area pastor and three-time SBC president, launched his radio and television ministry "Love Worth Finding" in 1987. Through Love Worth Finding, millions of people were impacted through Rogers' preaching.
Building on Rogers' legacy of expository preaching, the new academic center will promote training and skill development for current students and pastors alike. In addition to providing leadership and promotion for the preaching degrees in the academic program (master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees with expository preaching specializations and the biblical exposition major in the doctor of philosophy program), the Rogers Center will host conferences and lectureships in expository preaching. The center also will develop preaching resources to assist local church pastors.
Led by Adam Hughes, NOBTS professor of expository preaching and dean of the chapel, the Rogers Center will officially launch in January 2017. More information about the new center is available at www.nobts.edu/rogerscenter.
The new Christian leadership major in the doctor of philosophy program approved by trustees during their Oct. 10 meeting is aimed at providing a Ph.D.-level learning option for the growing number of NOBTS students in master's programs focusing on leadership, NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke said.
The 64-hour degree plan is designed to prepare students to lead in local congregations as well as teach at colleges, universities and seminaries or serve in administrative or leadership roles with the various boards, entities and commissions of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"The area of leadership has become one of the most popular specializations among students in our doctor of ministry and doctor of educational ministry programs, and we wanted to offer this focused training in our Ph.D. program as well," Lemke said.
Trustees approved revisions to the standard M.Div. which adjusted several courses and allowed for more options for individual students. Still an 84-hour degree, the new M.Div. moves from nine hours of free electives to 12 hours of free electives. Students are given options for two additional courses in order to better tailor their degree plan. Ultimately, Kelley hopes the revised M.Div. will better prepare students for the pastorate and for church planting.
"We are thrilled with the approval of our revised M.Div.," Kelley said. "It truly is a pastor's M.Div. that prepares someone for the full work of the pastor."
In an effort to assist local church leadership training, trustees approved three new certificate training sites in Georgia: Fort Creek Baptist Church in Dearing, Ga.; Murray Baptist Association in Dalton, Ga.; and Bartow Baptist Association in Cartersville, Ga. The board voted to relocate the church leadership certificate site in Broward County, Fla., from the Church by the Glades in Coral Springs to Oasis Church in nearby Pembroke Pines.
In response to a referral from the SBC Executive Committee following the 2016 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis, the board approved a written media policy for trustee meetings and general media requests at NOBTS. The policy delineates the open meeting policy for plenary sessions of trustee meeting. The written policy reflects the longstanding practices of the NOBTS board regarding open meetings.
In his report to the trustees, Kelley announced healthy enrollment numbers for the seminary. Last year's enrollment was the third largest in NOBTS history and the current year's enrollment is trending slightly higher than last year's. NOBTS also is expecting a large number of prospective students for its campus preview event later this month.
Gary D. Myers is director of public relations for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.