With upward trending enrollment numbers, campus renovations completed, and academic milestones marking the year, Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, looked back on 2023 with gratitude and joy.
“At NOBTS and Leavell College, we are in a wonderful season of time,” Dew said. “Every single day we see God’s favor in the work that’s happening on our campus, in the life that we see in our students, in the great joy and spiritual vitality we find in our faculty, and in all our people everywhere we go, including our alumni.”
Newly completed renovations of the NOBTS student center and dining hall were celebrated in ceremonies renaming each facility.
The dedication of the Fred Luter Jr. Student Center immediately followed the close of the 2023 SBC annual meeting in New Orleans, with church, city and state officials in attendance. Luter, pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, was honored in festivities that drew more than 4,000 to the campus. Elizabeth Luter, his wife, was honored with the unveiling of the Elizabeth Luter Study Rooms, a suite inside the LSC.
Updated and expanded, the dining hall was renamed in honor of Landrum Leavell II, NOBTS president from 1975-1994. Leavell, the school’s 7th president, oversaw record growth, the implementation of new technology for distance learning, the re-establishment of the undergraduate program—now Leavell College—and the initiation of the school’s extension center system.
Mission service at home and abroad marked many of the year’s events.
Student and faculty evangelistic efforts resulted in more than 13,000 gospel conversations and over 1250 professions of faith for the year. The once-a-semester Serve Day saw four professions of faith as hundreds of students and faculty members shared the gospel and participated in mission service projects across the city.
Mission initiatives mobilized 46 faculty and student participants to London, Southeast Asia and to NAMB’s Send Relief Atlanta Ministry Center in Clarkston, Georgia. In the New Orleans area, faculty and students serve at more than 90 of the 115 Southern Baptist churches.
New to the campus, IMB missionaries Austin and Megan Holcomb walk alongside students considering a call to missions as well as those preparing to go.
Dew called these measurements encouraging signs of the “spiritual climate” of campus.
“We challenge our students to roll up our sleeves and go out there; go into the brokenness and into the darkness and follow Jesus there and do the kind of things He would be doing,” Dew said.
Academically, the NOBTS licensure-track master’s programs in counseling and the doctoral program in counseling obtained accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educations Programs (CACREP), a milestone signaling the program’s quality and professionalism.
Special events, academic conferences and other gatherings on campus offered ministry preparation for pastors, staff members, lay leaders, and students.
Abide, an annual women’s conference featuring this year Kelly Minter, Lifeway author and Bible teacher, sold out at 1200. Breakout leaders included Sarah Farley-Beall, IMB’s Southeast/Gulf Coast Regional Mobilizer Next Gen Strategist on the Student Team, and Kay Bennett, recently retired Send Relief Missionary and Executive Director of the Baptist Friendship House of New Orleans, and others.
The Defend 2023 apologetics conference drew in a record attendance with registrants coming from as far away as Oregon and Canada, and a first-ever, one-day apologetics conference for high school students—Contend—featured Christian apologist Frank Turek.
The second annual “Abre Mis Ojos,” Spanish for Open My Eyes, saw more than 800 Hispanic church staff, lay leaders, and church members in attendance for the two-day event that focused on ministering in today’s culture.
Sponsored by the NOBTS Jim Henry Institute, the Prepare Here conference in October, drew 250 pastors, church ministry leaders, and spouses from across 10 states. Featured speakers were Steve Gaines, senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis; Robby Gallaty, senior pastor, Long Hollow Church, Hendersonville, Tennessee; and Jamie Dew, president.
In June, NOBTS welcomed the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans by hosting special events on campus. Faculty members and students participated in Crossover evangelistic events.“NOBTS and Leavell College prepare students to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission,” Dew said. “We take seriously a task that is accomplished by instilling into students’ ‘DNA’ the principles of servanthood, devotion, proclamation, and mission.”