NASHVILLE – In his report to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College President Jamie Dew expressed hope for the future of the SBC and excitement about what is happening in New Orleans. Dew also pledged to prioritize servanthood, devotion, gospel proclamation, and missions at NOBTS.
Due to the COVID-19-related cancelation of the 2020 convention, Dew’s Wednesday, June 16 address, marked his first opportunity to present the seminary report to SBC messengers since his 2019 election.
“When I went down to New Orleans and moved our family there, I discovered all sorts of beautiful and wonderful things about this calling,” Dew said. “It is a life of deep joy and great meaning in doing this work for you and for the kingdom.”
Dew commended the students and faculty at New Orleans Seminary and Leavell College for their humility and the way they serve Southern Baptists. He said it has been a joy to do the work God has called him to, and the convention has entrusted to him with the NOBTS team.
While acknowledging the problems and difficulties in New Orleans, Dew sought to reframe the way believers think about the city. Dew sees real beauty and gospel opportunities in New Orleans.
“We believe that New Orleans is the perfect laboratory for men and women to come to prepare for ministry,” Dew said. “In short, if you can do ministry in our city, then you can do ministry anywhere that God puts you.”
“That’s why we say, ‘Prepare Here. Serve Anywhere,’” Dew said.
Next, Dew shared hopeful words regarding the Southern Baptist Convention. Social media can give a skewed perception of Southern Baptists and cause despair, he said. However, spending time with faithful Southern Baptist pastors and visiting churches across the country has given Dew a truer picture of the SBC and given him reasons for optimism.
“At the end of the day, Southern Baptists are faithful people. They are humble people. They are servant people,” Dew said. “They just love Jesus and want to win the world for Christ.”
“Despite what other problems we have. Despite what other difficulties we may face, I have hope,” he said. “I see your work, and I am honored to join with you.”
When Dew began serving NOBTS, he took time to listen and learn about the school and understand the city of New Orleans. After this time of reflection and discovery, Dew and his leadership team drafted a new mission statement for the school extolling servanthood, devotion, proclamation, and missions. The statement, “New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College prepares servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His Truth, and fulfill His mission,” became the blueprint for every class, program, and initiative at the NOBTS.
“Brothers and sisters, if we are anything as Christians, we are supposed to be servants,” Dew said. “We are supposed to be people who take up the towel and basin and serve not just each other but the broken of this world and there in the darkest places, shine the light of Jesus.”
Devotion is essential for any Christian Dew said. He said the faculty seeks to shape students spiritually to become who God has called them to be.
NOBTS has long been know for training preachers and evangelists, Dew said. Proclamation of the gospel remains a top priority for the school.
“In the last year, our students shared the gospel 11,313 times. They have led 1,087 people to faith in Christ,” Dew said. “Since 2014, students and faculty have shared the gospel 94,190 times, that we know of, and they have led 9,203 people to faith in Jesus Christ. We have been, and we are a school of proclamation.”
NOBTS and Leavell College are reprioritizing missions to meet the needs identified by the two SBC mission boards.
“Paul Chitwood reminds us that there are 155,000 people who die every day without Christ and that they need 500 new missionaries every year to do their work,” Dew said. “Kevin Ezell said we need to plan 1,200 new churches each year.”
To help with these tasks, Dew appointed missiologist Greg Mathias to the NOBTS faculty and relaunched the school’s Global Missions Center to help train missionaries for service with the International Mission Board. NOBTS also partnered with the North American Mission Board to start a new church planting center on the NOBTS campus.
“It is time for NOBTS to stand up and give back to you and to the Kingdom the very best that we can,” Dew said.