on Thursday, October 13, 2022

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College trustees in their fall meeting approved three new Ph.D. majors, revisions strengthening the undergraduate programs, and announced the presidential appointment of a new Leavell College faculty member.

The spirit of unity was noticeable.

Jamie Dew, president, commended the Oct. 11-12 meetings for running “efficiently” and praised the mutual trust that exists between the seminary administration and the board of trustees.

“We’re excited about what God is doing here and I think the trustees see it,” Dew said. “We are all just excited and encouraged to keep moving forward and do what Southern Baptists put us here to do.”

Waylon Bailey, board chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, La., said the spirit of unity displayed at the meeting bodes well for the seminary’s ability to fulfill its mission statement.  

“I am encouraged and gratified at the sense of purpose, unity, and vision evidenced in our meeting,” Bailey said. “With all of us pulling together, I believe it portends a future of even greater ministry as our students ‘prepare here to serve anywhere.’”

Matt James, Ph.D. in historical theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and M.Div. from NOBTS, was appointed assistant professor of historical theology for Leavell College. Along with his past pastoral experience, James served as an adjunct faculty member at SEBTS. James’ appointment to the Leavell College faculty comes in addition to his role as associate vice president for enrollment, a role he assumed last year.

Trustees approved new Ph.D. majors in philosophy of religion and in ethics. A major in missiology was reinstated, with a name change. The major was formerly called “missions.”

The philosophy of religion major was designed with three target audiences in mind:  missionaries who must clarify, contextualize and defend the Christian faith; pastors who must defend the Christian worldview in today’s changing culture; and graduates preparing to teach various philosophically-grounded courses at Christian colleges and universities.

The Christian ethics major will prepare students to address the ethical and moral brokenness in today’s culture and in the church. The major will emphasize the study of ethics as influenced by theology, philosophy, and history.

Designed with IMB missionaries and church planters in mind, the Ph.D. major in missiology will prepare students to present a compelling case for the Christian faith within the context of other worldviews and in academic institutions around the world.

“We are excited to be able to provide the highest level of training for the next generation of scholars in the areas of philosophy of religion, ethics, and missiology,” said Norris Grubbs, provost. “Our faculty have developed these Ph.D. programs to train the next generation of scholars for the church and the academy.”

A name change was approved for one other Ph.D. major. The Biblical Interpretation major was changed to Biblical Theology to reflect current trends in the field and distinctives.   

The Leavell College curriculum revisions approved by trustees provide the bachelor and associate degrees a true Christian liberal arts core, with a Great Texts and Classics emphasis, while maintaining its commitment to Christian ministry preparation. The 120-hour bachelor degree includes a 60-hour core, 30-hour major, 15-hour minor and 15 hours of free electives.

Trustees also reaffirmed the seminary’s mission statement of “New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College prepare servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission.” The mission statement is reviewed every three years.

In other actions, trustees received updates on campus renovations including the expansion and updating of the NOBTS cafeteria and the Luter Student Center (LSC), received an enrollment report noting an increase in credit hours, and approved current audit and investment reports. 

Larry Lyon, senior vice president for business administration, announced that the LSC would be dedicated on Wednesday, June 14, 2023 following the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans and would be open to all. In a previous trustee meeting, trustees approved renaming the building for Fred Luter, pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church and former SBC president.

Six new trustees were welcomed to the board: Reggie Bridges, Louisiana; Rhonda Caldwell, Maryland; Douglas Gunn, Mississippi; Brian Hinton, Kentucky; Michael Kirby, New Mexico; and Morné Maritz, Nevada.

Before the full board, the new trustees signed the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and the NOBTS Articles of Religious Beliefs, marking their commitment and affirmation to Southern Baptist core beliefs.  The NOBTS document predates the first Baptist Faith and Message (1925) because of the seminary’s founding in 1917.