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25 OUR FAITHFUL GOD: Centennial inspires musical 31 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI: NOBTS honors three pastors






PROVIDENCE & PRAYER by Dr. Chuck Kelley PROVIDENCE AND PRAYER are two words frequently heard in conversations about New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Do you wonder why? The phrase goes back to Byron Hoover DeMent, the first president of NOBTS, who called the seminary the “child of Providence and Prayer.” After a slight word adjustment to become “The School of Providence and Prayer,” the designation became a beloved reference point for the whole seminary family from those early days until the present. Here are some of the reasons why. The most radical decision ever made by the Southern Baptist Convention happened in 1917. Whenever any family of churches in our nation decide to create an entity, they put it in a place with a base of that denomination’s churches already in place. This gives the new entity a clear local identity and base of support. Southern Baptists completely ignored this conventional wisdom and did something radical. They decided to create a school to train ministers and missionaries in New Orleans, a place with very little SBC presence. The city was not Baptist, was not evangelical, and was not Protestant. There would be so little local support, supporters of starting the school in New Orleans thought it would illustrate how to start seminaries in a foreign country. Clearly, the school would have to overcome many difficulties and challenges if it were to survive. Why choose such a difficult setting? Southern Baptists knew New Orleans was of great strategic importance to the nation, and they knew the people of New Orleans needed Jesus. A choice had to be made between a continuing reliance upon the faithfulness of God or a reliance upon the ordinary means of a visible base of support from existing Baptist churches. Trusting in Providence and Prayer, they chose the unlikely city of New Orleans. For one hundred years, God has proven Himself strong on our behalf. One of the very early problems was where to place the school in the city. Prayers began, and the seminary sought the Providence of God for dealing with scarce land and high building expenses. About that time, Sophie Newcomb College, a local college for women, merged with Tulane University. No longer needing their Garden District campus, they put it on the market, wondering who would want a fully


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developed college campus. Providence and Prayer won the school’s first victory. Southern Baptists purchased the property lock, stock and barrel. Without hammering a nail, the Baptist Bible Institute started with a complete campus, including classrooms, housing, faculty offices, and even a chapel. The seminary family prayed, and God provided! As the NOBTS story continued to unfold, the seminary learned that God’s Providence in response to our Prayer is ever faithful, but not always gentle or simple. The Great Depression had a devastating effect on the whole nation, including Southern Baptists. Life was difficult for nearly everyone. Imagine the struggles for a new Baptist school in a city so overwhelmingly Catholic. Every week students and


photo by Boyd Guy

CHUCK KELLEY faculty pushed forward the work of preparing the next generation of Southern Baptist leaders. Classrooms were active, including the largest classroom, which was the city of New Orleans. Students and faculty were out on the streets of the city seeking to lead people to Christ and to start new Baptist churches, learning to do by doing to learn. On the weekends, students and faculty would scatter across the region and the city, serving churches, many of which were struggling to survive, and working across South Louisiana and Mississippi to start churches in places where there were none. Prayers for God’s Providence were constantly rising to the heavens. In response there was no outpouring of money, but there was an outpouring of grace on Sunday nights. On Sunday nights all the seminary families, faculty and students, would gather in the school cafeteria. As they served area churches, many were not paid money, because money was so scarce. Baptists being Baptists, however, most were given something for their service. Some might be given vegetables. Others received fruit or milk. Farmers were sometimes able to share a chicken, or a ham, or some beef with the minister who came to serve them. And then there were the banana boats. Students went down to the docks when the banana boats were in from Central and South America. Some would get work helping unload the boats. Often students were allowed to pick up the bananas that fell off the stalks. On Sunday nights all would gather in the school cafeteria and put all things together. As best they could, the seminary family would then divide what was given into family portions, giving each family a similar amount of food to help each other make it through another week. God’s Providence came in the form of food and supplies shared by the churches with the preachers and ministers, but it also came in the form of a community spirit, all helping each other so that the Kingdom work in this difficult place could continue. Not a gentle Providence, but one that was adequate for the times. Each time you pray for NOBTS or give to help us keep preparation for ministry affordable for all who answer God’s call, you become part of this legacy. You become a current illustration of God’s Providence in response to our Prayer. Join us in the adventure of faith!

GOSPEL CONVERSATIONS APP Personal evangelism is deeply embedded in the NOBTS identity. Reaching the lost has been a priority since day one. A century ago, as Southern Baptist leaders met to organize the school they chose Matthew 28:18-20 as the school’s focal verse. During the centennial celebration, NOBTS hopes to mobilize the seminary family to engage in 100,000 Gospel conversations. A new phone app offering evangelism helps, a reporting tool, and follow-up assistance has been created to help track this goal. We hope God will use this goal to encourage the evangelism efforts of Southern Baptist churches and mobilize a new generation of personal evangelists who will engage the culture with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus. In following His command to “make disciples” we are giving Christ all of the glory as people are reached and lives are changed. Will you join us in this effort to make Christ known among the nations? Visit gonobts. how/GospelApp to download the app and start recording your Gospel conversations.

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CONTENTS features SPRING 2018 Volume 74, Number 1 DR. CHUCK KELLEY President

DR. JONATHAN KEY Vice President for Institutional Advancement

DR. DENNIS PHELPS Director of Alumni Relations


4 100 FOR 100 PART ONE

New Orleans Seminary's Unlikely Founding [1] Byron H. DeMent [3] The Original Campus [5] Hard Times in the Big Easy [17] Roland Q. Leavell [20] A New Campus [26] Integration [37] The Chapel Pulpit [47]




Art Director and Photographer

JOE FONTENOT Writer and Photographer

CHANDLER MCCALL Graphic Designer and Photographer

HUNTER BURCAW Graphic Designer and Photographer

VISION is published two times a year by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 3939 Gentilly Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70126 (800) 662-8701 (504) 282-4455 All contents © 2018 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. Please send address changes and alumni updates to the office of Alumni Relations at the above address. NOTE: Alumni updates will be used for the publication of the VISION magazine and on the Alumni website. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is a Cooperative Program ministry, supported by the gifts of Southern Baptists. The cover photo was taken by Chandler McCall and the contents photo by Boyd Guy.


23 ADVANCEMENT NEWS Legacy Plaza: Honoring and Remembering


‘Our Faithful God’ musical inspired by centennial history Racial reconciliation must be ‘built by the Lord’ Tuition cap for main campus and mentoring students New M.A. in Missiology specialization Leavell College plans $2 million academic chair


New Faculty Appointments Faculty Promotions Tenure Granted Distinguished Professors New Appointments Visiting Professors


Distinguished Alumni Class Notes



A child born of Providence and Prayer, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has watched God at work in an unlikely place for 100 years. With deep gratitude to our faithful God, here is brief look back at the people, events and traditions that define NOBTS and made it what it is today. We have selected 50 brief vignettes from the first 50 years of the seminary to tell a portion of the story. With such a rich history, many other stories could be featured if space allowed. Please enjoy Part One of our “100 for 100” feature, covering the school’s founding until 1968. Part Two, in the upcoming Fall 2018 Vision, will present an additional 50 vignettes of our more recent history.

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NEW ORLEANS SEMINARY’S UNLIKELY by Gary D. Myers FOUNDING Answering God’s call always requires absolute trust — an “all-in” faith that can seem daring or even risky to the outside world. This is the type of faith Abram showed as he followed God from his home to an unknown land and it is the type of faith that led to the creation of the Baptist Bible Institute (BBI), later known as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Walking across the beautiful, tree-lined NOBTS campus today, one could easily downplay the improbable nature of the school’s founding and disregard the grit needed to plant roots in this most unique city. Knowing what we know today, it is easy to discount the radical faith of the school’s founders which led them to answer God’s call in this place. In May of 1917, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans voted to establish a missions and ministry training school in the Crescent City. The move was designed to help plant the Gospel cause in New Orleans and to utilize the urban environment as a Gospel training laboratory. Establishing a seminary in the rough and tumble, turn-of-the-century New Orleans was a God-sized, Great Commission endeavor. At the time, Southern Baptists were primarily a regional denomination reaching the rural areas and small to medium-sized towns and cities in the South. New Orleans bore little resemblance to the rest of the South. In fact, the diverse city had more in common with far-flung foreign mission fields at the ends of the earth than it did with other U.S. cities. Even before the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention, missional fervor compelled Baptists to prioritize New Orleans. As early as 1817, Baptists began working to reach the city and by 1843, First Baptist Church of New Orleans had been established. The first call for a mission training school in New Orleans came in 1849, just four years after the SBC formed. As the Baptist work began to grow in New Orleans, so did the urgency. An 1866 report to the Southern Baptist Convention noted the spiritual condition of New Orleans referring to the “bottomless vortex of pleasure and sensuality, debauchery and crime” in the city. The moral decay reached a low point when the city, attempting to confine the growing immorality, developed Storyville, a 38-block area where prostitution was tolerated. The brothels and bars of Storyville operated from 1897 until 1917.

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The most ardent champion for a seminary in the days leading up to BBI’s founding was Plautus Iberus Lipsey, the editor of The Baptist Record of Mississippi. A graduate of Southern Seminary, Lipsey wrote an influential editorial in 1914 in which he commended the work of Southern and Southwestern seminaries and called for the establishment of a new seminary in New Orleans. He believed that an influx of God-called men and women studying at the seminary would help establish a bold Gospel witness in the city. Sensing God’s call, Southern Baptists did not shy away from the difficult setting. In this predominantly Catholic city, messengers voted BBI into existence. At the time, only six SBC churches existed in the city of 400,000 people and the lax morality extended far beyond the confines of Storyville. After the vote, small visionary leaders set out to find a president, a faculty, and a place to meet. Within a year, the faculty had been assembled, the curriculum was set, a campus had been purchased in the Garden District, and BBI was ready to open. Classes began in October 1918, but unfortunately, a historical influenza outbreak in New Orleans led to the suspension of the first session for a little over a month. After the worst of the flu season was over, classes resumed in November. The weight of the task — not only surviving in New Orleans, but establishing a thriving Gospel witness in the city — was not lost on the Institute’s first president, Byron Hoover DeMent. “The Baptist Bible Institute is preeminently a child of providence and prayer,” DeMent said. His words stuck with BBI/NOBTS and even today the seminary is often called “The School of Providence and Prayer.”


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Evangelizing New Orleans was one of the prime motivators behind the SBC decision to start BBI. The students and faculty at the fledgling school embraced this task from the start. Busloads of BBI students and professors shared the Gospel freely in the city and throughout the region in the early years. People responded to the Gospel. New Baptist churches were started. As the school grew, the name was changed to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (1946) and a new campus was constructed in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans (1953). One hundred years ago, God called the Southern Baptist Convention to a task that seemed risky and daring. God called on the Convention to live out the same type of “all-in” faith that led Abram on an epic journey. Today, the students, faculty and staff at NOBTS enjoy the fruits of that faithfulness and they continue the seminary’s evangelistic and missional legacy in New Orleans. Answering God’s call still requires absolute trust and the current generation is answering His call at NOBTS.

02 THE FIRST FACULTY President B. H. DeMent, J. E. Gwatkin, W. E. Denham, L. O. F. Cotey, Lawrence Zarrilli, B. H. Spillman, and Mrs. John O. Gough, the superintendent of women, comprised the first faculty. Cotey and Zarrilli were home missionaries serving in New Orleans.

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With the decision made to place the Baptist Bible Institute in New Orleans, the time came to name the man to lead the way. The job called for a trailblazer and a man of God. One name came to mind — Byron H. DeMent. A decade later, a faculty resolution affirmed what the board of directors knew to be true from the beginning. DeMent had been the right choice. Upon his retirement, the faculty hailed him as a man “beloved by his brethren, full of the Holy Spirit and good works and whose orthodoxy was absolutely unquestioned.” DeMent’s term of leadership, 19171928, would come to be seen as a decade of expansion and growth, yet one faithfully focused on a singular goal — the spread of God’s Kingdom to all the world. Evangelism was DeMent’s greatest joy and an unflinching commitment to training students in “practical activities” for sharing the Gospel marked his tenure. Under DeMent’s leadership, the school expanded its faculty, broadened its curriculum and degree offerings, and upsized property holdings to provide for a thriving student body. When DeMent stepped down in 1928, he did so with a heavy heart, leaving

the institution he loved. DeMent had faithfully led BBI to make its mark and Baptists in the city were better for it — six churches had become 16; 1,300 Southern Baptists were now 5,000; and missions were being planted across South Louisiana.

A PASTOR’S HEART Born in Tennessee at the height of the Civil War, DeMent learned from his earliest years to value education and Scripture. By age 17, DeMent had memorized the entire New Testament and for the rest of his ministry he was known for being able to quote long passages of Scripture. “A man with a pastor’s heart,” DeMent brought an expertise to the presidency that was honed in the pulpit. DeMent left his pastorate at First Baptist Church, Greenwood, S.C. to take the lead in making the Baptist Bible Institute a reality. From the start, he put his heart into growing “The School of Providence and Prayer.” In DeMent’s first six months as president, he spoke in 33 churches, delivered 133 sermons and addresses, and traveled 11,200 miles by train promoting the school and raising money.

Still, the school’s rapid growth and expansion at a time when the Southern Baptist Convention faced financial struggles of its own came with a price. The school’s indebtedness weighed heavily on DeMent and on Sunday evening Dec. 18, 1927, after preaching twice that day in Pass Christian, Miss., DeMent’s health failed. He tendered his resignation three days later. Close friend and faculty member James Gwatkin noted the sentiment students felt for their president. “It is safe to say no executive was ever held in greater esteem or had the more ardent, almost worshipful, love of his students,” Gwatkin explained. “Wherever you find [a student] today he will testify gladly to the blessed impact of [DeMent’s] life on his.” DeMent remained on faculty, teaching and writing, until his death March 17, 1933. The final years of his life were productive as DeMent completed his work Bible Reader’s Life of Christ and a booklet on the inspiration of the Bible. DeMent proved faithful to the end to the institution he called “dearer to me than my own heart’s blood.”

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Faculty met together for prayer before class for the first time on Oct. 1, 1918, a tradition broken only by Hurricane Katrina when a dispersed faculty held classes online during the 2005-06 school year.

05 THE ORIGINAL CAMPUS BBI obtained the former campus of Sophie Newcomb College at 1220 Washington Avenue prior to the school’s opening in 1918. At the time, the property covered a city square with four buildings — including the former Robb Mansion — and another building across the street. Within a decade, the property line extended out to three blocks and included 23 buildings.

06 ARTICLES OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF The Articles of Religious Belief, a statement of faith written by the school’s first board of directors, has been signed by every incoming faculty member since 1918.


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From the Baptist Bible Institute’s earliest days, “practical activities” were a key part of the curriculum. The trademark of the school, President DeMent insisted, would always be “learning by doing.” “It is the method of the clinic, the correlation of thought and act, of carrying out and testing principles in concrete, social situations,” DeMent said. “It is the method of the Master.” On the busy streets of the French Quarter, students preached to gathered crowds in French, Spanish, Italian and English. One Dutch sailor, led to faith in Christ by students, returned home and saw his parents also come to Christ. He wrote back thanking the students “for caring enough” to share the Gospel with him. Sunday mornings on campus were busy as students boarded school-owned buses to travel down into the bayous and to far points of the state where they started Sunday Schools, preached, and carried the Gospel to “lonesome fishermen” at work.

“The Baptist Evangel,” a 1925 Ford Model TT passenger bus, was the first in a long fleet of vehicles in the school’s bus ministry that through the years included vans, buses and station wagons. Taking the Gospel where it was needed was crucial. BBI publications — the early student newspaper The Magnet and The B. B. Eye, the forerunner to Vision — told their stories as students shared the Gospel around the state. Other pages were marked with reports from graduates serving on the mission field, international students returned home to minister, and chaplains at work in wartime. By the time the school reached its 50th birthday, NOBTS graduates served around the world, being noted as the first Southern Baptist missionaries in Korea, Togo, Guam, South Vietnam, Iceland and Yemen, as well as the first to serve as medical technologists and hospital administrators. Learning by doing, the “method of the Master,” had proved to be the right approach.

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A failure, in God’s hands, can become a great blessing. The Cooperative Program, a financial lifeline that helps NOBTS keep theological education affordable, took shape after the 75 Million Campaign, a 1920s pledge program for the support of Southern Baptist ministries, fell short of its goal. Launched in 1925, the Cooperative Program was an alternative to pledge programs and the “society method,” where representatives and missionaries solicit support for their ministries. Through convention-wide cooperative giving, NOBTS benefits and the work of carrying out the Great Commission continues. During the difficult days of the Great Depression and WWII, the Cooperative Program helped stabilize the seminary as it reshaped Southern Baptist thinking at a foundational level. Then-president Duke McCall wrote this in the October 1944 Vision: “Who owns the Baptist Bible Institute? Every individual Southern Baptist whose church cooperates with the other churches in the Southern Baptist Convention.” By empowering Southern Baptists with a sense of ownership, the Cooperative Program made each giver an investor in God's Kingdom through theological education. The investment continues as a portion of each Cooperative Program dollar benefits NOBTS. As McCall later wrote, “The Cooperative Program is the best method yet devised for the financing of the programs of the Southern Baptist Convention.” At the start, the three seminaries existing at the time shared three percent of the total Cooperative Program receipts. Today, the amount shared between the six SBC seminaries is 21.92 percent. Rising costs and a changing economy mean today’s Cooperative Program contribution to NOBTS covers less of the amount needed to keep theological education affordable for students. Still, the program’s impact for eternity and for the Gospel remains incalculable.

John T. Christian, professor of church history and librarian, donated his personal collection of 18,000 books, rich in Reformation and Anabaptist lore, to form the nucleus of BBI’s first library. The library grew to 40,000 volumes with donations from the private libraries of Dr. Charles Manly, former president of Furman University, and Dr. A. J. Holt of Florida.



Classes started at BBI without a library, but students were provided resources when faculty members gave students access to their personal libraries.

Dedicated to promoting and informing, The Baptist Bible Institute News first appeared in 1923, succeeded by The B. B. Eye in 1944. With the school’s name change two years later, The B. B. Eye became Vision magazine.



A school-operated printing press — The Institute Memorial Press — began producing news articles and school publications in 1923. An updated Kluge automatic press took its place in 1949.



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BBI awarded the school’s first Doctor of Theology degree (Th.D.) in 1924.

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Uncertain times call for strong leaders, and BBI found one in William Wistar Hamilton Sr., the school’s second president. When Hamilton stepped into the presidency in 1928, the institution faced acute debt, a situation that worsened as the nation plunged into the Great Depression. Hamilton steered BBI through a radical retrenchment that called for a drastic reduction of faculty and bare bones budgeting. His personal letter writing campaign to thousands of friends and donors helped close the gap and lead the seminary through its toughest financial days. Despite the difficulties, President Hamilton served BBI and Southern Baptists with distinction. At Hamilton’s suggestion, the Home Mission Board (now NAMB) launched the summer missionary program; his love of evangelism inspired student practical activities and led to the birth of mission stations and new churches in Louisiana; and twice he served as Southern Baptist Convention president, garnering the written praise of George W. Truett. At his resignation in 1942, the trustees passed a resolution praising Hamilton as an astute thinker, a discriminating theologian, and wise administrator. It concluded with, “The Baptist Bible Institute owes Dr. Hamilton a debt of gratitude which can never be put into words.”


Dr. R. G. Lee, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church of Memphis, was a good friend to BBI. A trustee and long-time supporter, Lee was offered the presidency in 1942, which he graciously declined.


Though primarily focused on graduate studies, BBI offered basic ministerial training to God-called men and women who did not have a college degree. Many years later, NOBTS would formalize this undergraduate work in the full, fouryear college. Above: Hamilton lecturing in Managan Chapel.

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Some of the darkest days for BBI came during the Great Depression as the Institute’s deep indebtedness reached a tipping point. Facing a formidable financial crisis of its own, the Southern Baptist Convention entertained the notion of closing the doors at BBI. Only radical retrenchment could save the school. Drastic cuts came when the fifteen-member faculty was informed all would be dismissed, save five. An emotional scene played out at the board meeting as a younger faculty member volunteered to give up his position so an older faculty member could be retained. All salaries were drastically cut. Three other professors — E. O. Sellers, J. E. Gwatkin, and M. G. Beckwith — stayed on at BBI, working with full devotion and doing so without pay. Love of God and commitment to BBI held the institute together as faculty and students shared food, “eating what was available at the moment or what kindly farmer friends had sent in to keep body and soul together.” The struggles continued for years, letting up only as WWII gave way to full employment and financial relief.

In a sad chapter of history, Union Baptist College and Theological Seminary was launched by New Orleans-area churches in 1937 after African Americans were denied admission at NOBTS. Despite the seminary’s position on race at the time, numerous NOBTS students and faculty members volunteered their time to teach at Union. Leaders at NOBTS later apologized to Union for excluding black students. Union continues its ministry in New Orleans today and the two schools continue to partner together in ministry training activities.

Above: Harry Anderson teaching at Union Seminary in 1950.

19 DUKE K. MCCALL In 1943, four months shy of his 29th birthday, Duke Kimbrough McCall stepped out of the pastorate and into his role as BBI’s third president. Inauguration came months later, delayed until December so that it would coincide with the school’s Silver Anniversary festivities. McCall pledged in his inaugural address that “nothing must turn this institution from its destiny as a great missionary agency.” True to his word, McCall brought to the office a passion and a vision for seeing pastors receive the theological education they needed. McCall’s clarion call to Southern Baptists to more effectively fund their seminaries was made with fervor and commitment. Under his leadership, the school’s identity as a seminary became firm as it reorganized into five departments in order to chart a clear path for pastors seeking training. Three short years later, McCall resigned in an unprecedented move that reflected both his abilities and his commitment to serve: McCall left to become Executive Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. The farewell tribute to McCall in the May 1946 B. B. Eye acknowledged his unique contribution: “Seldom does a man make an impact upon an institution as did Duke Kimbrough McCall make upon the Baptist Bible Institute.”


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New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees selected successful pastor and noted evangelist Roland Q. Leavell, 54, as the school’s fourth president, following the departure of Duke McCall in 1946. A Mississippi native, Leavell was the eighth of George and Corra Leavell’s nine sons. Eight of the Leavell boys were involved in full-time Christian ministry at some point in their lives. Taught to follow Christ in his boyhood home, the Leavell family also taught Roland to value education and learning. After attending public schools, Leavell earned the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees at the University of Mississippi. Moving on to Louisville, Ky., Leavell earned the Master of Theology degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1917 — the year BBI was voted into existence. After a brief stint working for the YMCA, Leavell returned to Southern to earn the Doctor of Theology. Leavell pastored churches in Mississippi and Georgia before the Home Mission Board selected him to lead their evangelism department. He served at the board from 1937 to 1942 when First Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., called Leavell as pastor.

After leading the church through the World War II years, Leavell accepted the role of president of BBI. The name change — from Baptist Bible Institute to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary — was approved by the Southern Baptist Convention just days after Leavell was hired. The NOBTS enrollment was 378 when Leavell took office, but he believed the school could grow. His dream of reaching an enrollment of 1,000 students would require a new campus. In 1958, just five years after the new campus opened, enrollment exceeded 1,000 students for the first time in NOBTS history. “Roland Q. Leavell was one of the greatest presidents in the history of our seminary,” NOBTS president Chuck Kelley said. “He moved our campus from the Garden District to the present location. We would not be the seminary we are today if that move had not been made.” In addition to building a new campus, Leavell developed an outstanding faculty, invested in student life, and worked to reconnect with alumni of the school. The seminary received full accreditation during his tenure.

Leavell was a prolific writer, authoring 15 books. One of his most important books, Evangelism: Christ’s Imperative Commission, was used as a textbook upon its release. A revised version of the book was used in seminary classes through the mid-1990s. Early in 1958, Leavell suffered a severe cerebral thrombosis. After several months with little improvement, he was named president emeritus by the trustee board and entered retirement May 1, 1958. Later, Leavell regained enough strength to begin preaching and writing again. In his 1961 book, The Sheer Joy of Living, Leavell expressed his feeling for NOBTS: “Loved ones eventually will take my weary bones to the family burying ground at Oxford, Miss., but my heart is already buried under the chapel in the heart of the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.” The great leader who reshaped NOBTS died Jan. 15, 1963 while leading a Bible conference in Tennessee. Leavell had given his all for NOBTS. Funeral services for Roland Q. Leavell were held on the seminary campus in the chapel which bore his name.

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21 DEBT & REPAYMENT By 1928, the Institute’s indebtedness mounted to $350,000 which included a second mortgage, bond payments, and a personal note. With the final payment on Aug. 24, 1943, BBI was debt-free for the first time in its history.


Baptist Bible Institute became New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on May 16, 1946 when the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Miami, voted to approve the name change.

23 ACCREDITATION NOBTS received full accreditation from the American Association of Theological Schools for the School of Theology in 1953 and the School of Religious Education in 1955. The accrediting agency is now known as the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS).

Above, left to right: Dr. Roland Q. Leavell, Mrs. Maggie Ellen DeMent (wife of the first President of the Seminary), Lowry B. Eastland (President of the Board of Trustees).


Vision’s “Watch It Grow” campaign featured photographs of construction progress at the new Gentilly campus beginning with the groundbreaking in 1948 and continuing until the campus opened in 1953.

25 THE GATES The gates and wrought-iron fence which today lead into the grounds in front of Leavell Chapel were original to the 1855 Robb Mansion, the building that became the heart of the Garden District campus. The gates and fence were moved to the Gentilly campus during construction.


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A NEW CAMPUS By Gary D. Myers

The Garden District campus at 1220 Washington Avenue served NOBTS well for the school’s first 29 years. But by 1946, the campus was crowded and there was little room for future growth. New Orleans Seminary’s new leader, Roland Q. Leavell, began searching for land as soon as he took office. He found that the only suitable land available was the 375-acre Seeger estate, which was little more than a swampy pecan grove at the time. The holding company offering the land for sale insisted that the plot not be parceled or subdivided. The asking price was $1.5 million. Even before NOBTS became interested in the land, the developer had rejected an offer of $1 million. Moreover, the company wanted a cash buyer. The odds seemed stacked against the seminary. The site had far more acreage than needed and with little cash available, Leavell could have given up on the Gentilly location. Instead, he initiated negotiations to buy the best portion of the land — 75 acres facing Gentilly Boulevard. About the time NOBTS presented its offer, the same 75-acre portion of the plot caught the eye of the Catholic archbishop in New Orleans. Any glimmer of hope for acquiring the land seemed lost. Unfazed and prayerful, Leavell continued the negotiations for several weeks. Finally, Leavell convinced the holding company that the entire plot was worth only $1.25 million and offered a quarter of a million dollars for one-fifth of the plot. The developer could then sell the rest of the land for $1 million. But Leavell’s most convincing argument to the agent centered on the commission. “I let him know that if the owners sold it to the Baptists, he

would get a fat commission; it they sold it to the archbishop, he would have to give that commission to his church,” Leavell said of the negotiations. On Dec. 18, 1946, the development company accepted the seminary’s offer and a $25,000 down payment. The final total would be $247,752 — a cost of $3,330 per acre. The company granted NOBTS 90 days to raise the rest of the money. The seminary secured the first $209,184.44 in just two weeks. The rest came slowly, but by Feb. 5, 1947 the total had been raised and NOBTS presented a check for $222,752 to the Gentilly Development Company. With the land secured, Leavell begin to develop an ambitious campus plan for a world-class seminary facility. Construction would continue for a decade and cost more $7 million. “The sound of saw and hammer was music to my ears, music as sweet as the Hallelujah Chorus,” Leavell poetically remarked in his later years. Over time a beautiful French Colonial campus began to rise out of the once swampy pecan grove. NOBTS officially opened the new campus Sept. 3, 1953.

27 A. HAYS TOWN Renowned architect A. Hays Town designed the Gentilly campus with building assistance provided by Favrot and Reed Architects, New Orleans, and R. P. Farnsworth & Co., general contractors.

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The first buildings completed at the Gentilly campus (1949) were four student apartment buildings, together housing 50 families. The apartments were named for W. H. Managan Sr., James E. Gwatkin, George H. Crutcher and John T. Christian.

29 THREE SCHOOLS By 1953, three distinct schools made up NOBTS: theology, religious education, and sacred music.


The Garden District campus sold the year the seminary moved to Gentilly for a net price of $735,615. The buildings on the central square were soon demolished and the land divided into 17 residential lots.

31 BUNYAN CHAPEL Until Leavell Chapel was built, the second floor of Bunyan served as the seminary’s chapel. The space featured a vaulted ceiling, a low stage and seating for 700.




The words to the NOBTS Alma Mater Hymn were penned by Dr. Roland Q. Leavell in 1954. Two years later, the melody composed by Lydia F. Lovan of Liberty, Mo. was adopted.


In 1954, Mississippi alumni raised $8,000 to build a fountain and plant an English garden between the Frost and Dodd buildings.

34 INTEGRATION The seminary reversed the policy which excluded African Americans in the early 1950s and black students began attending NOBTS in 1955.


The B. H. DeMent Administration building, today known as the M. E. Dodd Faculty Building, housed the president’s office and the registrar, dean of students and business offices.


Billy Graham preached in Bunyan Chapel Oct. 24, 1954 during his Greater New Orleans Crusade. Shown here is the Rev. Graham with Roy Whisler, a St. Louis layman, and President Roland Q. Leavell. From Oct. 3-31, 1954, Graham preached the Gospel to crowds at Pelican Stadium and Tulane Stadium in the Crescent City. According to The Times-Picayune, 4,411 people committed their lives to Christ during the crusade.


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33. The Sacred Desk/Chapel Pulpit: The wooden pulpit which first appeared in the Bunyan Chapel and remains in Leavell Chapel today was designed by members of the faculty. The pulpit features the carved outlined of the Ten Commandment tablets complete with numbers. Superimposed on the tablets are two scrolls containing Jesus’ summation of the Ten Commandments. 34. Alma Mater Words (1954): Words to the NOBTS Alma Mater Hymn were penned by Dr. Roland Q. Leavell in 1954. Two years later, the melody composed by Lydia F. Lovan of Liberty, Mo. was adopted. 35. Frost Fountain and English Garden: In 1954, Mississippi alumni raised $8,000 to build a fountain and plant an English garden between the Frost and Dodd buildings. 36. Integration: The seminary reversed the policy which excluded African Americans in the early 1950s and black students began attending NOBTS in 1955. 37 Dodd Administration Building: The B. H. DeMent Administration building, today known as the M. E. Dodd Faculty Building, housed the president’s office and the registrar, dean of students, and business offices.



The columned Roland Q. Leavell Chapel became the crowning achievement of the new Gentilly campus in 1958. Money ran out before a steeple was added, blunting the beauty of the structure. Seventeen years later enough money was raised to top the chapel with a stately spire. The steeple, a towering beacon of Gospel hope, now serves as the seminary’s logo.

38 Henry Leo Eddleman, elected as the fifth NOBTS president in 1959, brought with him impressive ministry credentials and academic experience as a professor and administrator. After earning a doctorate from Southern Seminary, Eddleman served as a missionary in Palestine. Upon his return to the U.S., Eddleman taught at BBI in 1942 and 1943, before accepting a pastorate in Louisville, Ky. When trustees called on Eddleman to lead NOBTS, he was in his fifth year as president of Georgetown College. The new NOBTS president had lofty goals — the chief goal being the development of a $5 million endowment. But, Eddleman inherited a seminary with looming issues which hampered many of his initiatives. By 1965, termite damage, drainage issues and construction deficiencies plagued


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the decade-old campus. Many of the trustees wanted to relocate a few miles north and start over. Instead, Eddleman led an effort to repair the damaged campus. In the midst of these struggles, NOBTS marked its 50th anniversary. Eddleman commissioned William A. Mueller, professor of church history, to write The School of Providence and Prayer: A History of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, a volume chronicling the school’s first 50 years. Eddleman led ably in the face of difficult circumstances. In 1970, he left NOBTS to serve as executive vice president for Religious Heritage of America. Later, Eddleman served as the president of the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies, the forerunner of Criswell College.

100 FOR 100

39 BF&M 1963


Doctrinal controversy in the convention prompted the adoption of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, a revision of the 1925 statement. The 1963 statement of Southern Baptist convictions regarding God, salvation and the Christian life became a guideline for hiring faculty.

NOBTS professor Roy Beaman led a two-month Bible lands study tour in 1951 visiting Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy and Turkey. After the initial trip, Bible land study tours became an annual fixture for the seminary.



Mrs. Roland Q. Leavell returned to the campus after the death of her husband and in 1964 became the director of the Women’s Auxiliary, a significant support group for the seminary enlisting the support of local women.


The New Orleans Baptist Seminary Foundation, established in 1965, was designed to receive gifts and make investments on behalf of the school. The endowments and investments of the Foundation Board would become more and more important as educational costs began to rise.



On Sept. 9, 1965, Hurricane Betsy roared through the city and flooded one-third of the NOBTS campus. While damage was minimal, the total cost of repair was $100,000.


The seminary’s long history of academic lectureships began under Dr. DeMent when the Layne and Tharp lectures were established. The Gurney Evangelism Lectures followed in 1960. Lectures on preaching, archaeology, women’s ministry, and other topics have been added.

Above, left to right: Mrs. Lillian Leavell, Mrs. Burmester, Mrs. Betty Brian, Mrs. Dunbar, and Mrs. Brown.

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World War II was winding down when two single women joined the Baptist Bible Institute faculty. Three decades later, Helen E. Falls and Nelle C. Davidson would be known for their investment in training those whom God called to ministry and would leave behind an indelible mark for God’s kingdom.

HELEN E. FALLS The daughter of a Baptist minister, Helen E. Falls learned a love for missions at an early age. She joined the Baptist Bible Institute as a missions teacher and dean of women in 1945; she retired 36 years later as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s professor of missions. From the day Falls earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, she was active in missions. What began as a position with the Women’s Missionary Union in Maryland and Kentucky became a life-long career leading, teaching, and serving on mission fields in 80 different countries. As a speaker, Falls was in demand at missions conferences and meetings across the nation. Her writings appeared in publications from Women’s Missionary Union materials to a Southern Baptist Convention study course entitled “History of Southern Baptist Missions.” Highlighting Falls’ 25th anniversary at NOBTS, the Oct.Dec. 1970 Vision noted that she was “known as one of Southern Baptists’ best informed authorities on missions today.” The depth of her connection to missionary personnel is apparent in a Vision notice of Falls’ upcoming sabbatic plans: “Dr. Falls has been asked by the Foreign Mission Board to conduct strategy conferences for them around the globe. This assignment will take the missions professor first to the Middle East, including India, Bangladesh, and Yemen. From there she will cover some 20 countries in East, South, and West Africa, and will return to cover all the countries in Europe where Southern Baptists presently have work. Dr. Falls will be traveling alone, and will stay with missionaries and in hotels.” At Falls’ passing at the age of 96, family members requested memorial gifts be directed to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in her name. The obituary honored her in this way: “Dr. Falls could easily be called ‘Miss Missions’ by almost everyone who knew her. To have heard her or to have read her works was to know that her life was full of the love of missions.”


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NELLE C. DAVIDSON Acquisitions manager, book-dealer, caretaker, advocate. The titles befitting Nelle C. Davidson’s service as Librarian are countless, though one rises to the top — Davidson was the “first professionally trained librarian to be employed by a Southern Baptist seminary,” noted the Oct.-Dec. 1970 Vision. When Davidson stepped into the position of full-time librarian in the summer of 1944, she inherited the task of caring for the extensive collections of John T. Christian and B. H. DeMent that formed the library’s central core, as well as thousands of newer acquisitions. To meet the needs of a growing student population, Davidson traveled often to Europe visiting libraries and connecting with book-dealers. The 3,500 titles added to the library through her efforts abroad afforded many out-of-print books and rare holdings. One, a genuine leaf of the famous Gutenberg Bible, printed from 1450 to 1455, was added during her tenure. Davidson once appealed to donors in Vision saying, “The inquiring minds, creative abilities of students, and faculty stimulation lead toward a never ending quest for truth.” With the seminary’s move to the Gentilly campus, Davidson earned the distinction of being the first faculty member to reside on campus. As plans for the John T. Christian Library took shape, Davidson worked closely with President Roland Q. Leavell. In a 1956 special issue Vision, President Leavell noted the historical significance of the Christian and DeMent collections, giving credit to Dr. Christian for his untiring work in securing acquisitions world-wide. With a nod to Davidson for her contribution, Leavell added, “Our Librarian does the same.” Leavell praised Davidson further, saying, “Miss Nelle Davidson combines thorough academic training, wide experience, and scholarly concern for her task.” Davidson’s strong commitment to building a collection suitable for training those entering ministry was reflected in her work. She once wrote, “I feel that theological librarianship offers more opportunity for service than almost any other type. One reason is that the students are studying with special fields of Christian service in mind. There is ever present the challenge of fitting these students to meet the demands of their service careers.”

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Countless faculty members have served with devotion to God and with distinction in their teaching, speaking and writing. While there are too many to name, here is a sampling:

47 THE CHAPEL PULPIT The wooden pulpit which first appeared in the Bunyan Chapel and remains in Leavell Chapel today was designed by members of the faculty. The pulpit features the carved outline of the Ten Commandment tablets complete with numbers. Superimposed on the tablets are two scrolls containing Jesus’ summation of the Ten Commandments.

JOHN T. CHRISTIAN The seminary’s first librarian, John T. Christian, was an ardent defender of Baptist distinctives in doctrine and practice. A careful researcher, Christian’s books on baptism and Baptist History were widely circulated, matched only by his diligence in seeking out quality resources for the library, an effort that took him around the world. Christian served on faculty from 1919-1925.

ERNEST O. SELLERS Affectionately known as “Uncle Fuller” by the students, Ernest Orlando Sellers’ musical talents served him well as an evangelistic singer, minister of music, and then loyal music professor for 25 years. Though Sellers’ lacked formal music education, he published poems, tunes, and hymns, the best-known being “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus.” During the difficult years of the Great Depression, he continued to teach without pay. Sellers served on faculty from 1919-1945.

PENROSE ST. AMANT Dubbed “a fiery young Frenchman,” Louisiana native Penrose St. Amant joined the faculty in 1943 at age 29. Soon, he distinguished himself for academic excellence. A popular church history and theology teacher, St. Amant continued to study, write and publish throughout his notable career at NOBTS. Amant served on faculty from 1943-59.

48 THE PRAYER ROOM The Mirrored Prayer Room, with its oval mirrors and octagonal shape, moved from the Garden District campus to Leavell Chapel, then later to its permanent home in the Leavell Legacy museum, Hardin Student Center.


Mitsuo Fuchida, leader of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, told the Chapel Convocation audience Sept. 7, 1967 that after coming to faith in Christ he dedicated his life to telling others about Jesus who changes “hate into love.”

50 NOBTS AT 50 By NOBTS’ 50th anniversary, the school had graduated over 5,000 students and conferred 239 doctoral degrees.

Look for additional NOBTS history items at

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LEGACY PLAZA: HONORING AND REMEMBERING THE GREAT COMMISSION is at the heart of the NOBTS legacy. Honoring those who walked beside us in our journey to answer God’s call, Legacy Plaza is a visible reminder that every investment ultimately furthers God’s Kingdom. In a dedication service during the spring Foundation Board meeting, Legacy Plaza was unveiled. The Seminary Seal, imprinted with Matthew 28:18-20, forms the heart of the plaza and the focal point for each new installment to come. Each brick is a tribute to a faithful friend, church member, professor, or loved one. Many of these individuals have helped or are helping make seminary education a reality. Now we carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth and watch as God calls people to Himself. As future generations come and take our place, Legacy Plaza stands as testimony that He is ever faithful to provide. Your gift of an engraved brick honors someone whose life has touched yours. Each brick includes three lines of text, 18 characters per line, for $250. Limited premium pavers are also available for $1,000. Find your place in Legacy Plaza. Honor a loved one today. You can go online at or call Institutional Advancement at 1-800-662-8701 x3252.


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Order by July 31, 2018 to ensure installation by Founders' Day, October 2, 2018.


Your engraved brick will be located in the new Legacy Plaza on the main campus of NOBTS, immediately in front of Leavell chapel.


$250/ea. $1,000/ea for premium pavers


To purchase or learn more, visit



Opposite page: Foundation board members and friends of the seminary gathered around the Seminary Seal, the focal point of Legacy Plaza. L to R: Mark Hagelman, Director of Development of Institutional Advancement, Luke Lemoine with grandmother Lucille Harris, Dr. Chuck Kelley, Dr. Rhonda Kelley, Christy Simmons, Chuck Simmons, Jane Walton, Dr. Phil Walton, Dr. Jonathan Key, Foundation Board Executive Director and V.P. for Institutional Advancement. Top Left: Lucille Harris locates the brick she placed in honor of a loved one. Bottom Left: Lucille Harris recalls memories as she looks over the engraved bricks at Legacy Plaza with her grandson Luke Lemoine. Top Right: Dr. Phil Walton, Foundation Board Chairman, sets in place an engraved brick in Legacy Plaza during the dedication March 9, 2018. photos by Boyd Guy

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‘OUR FAITHFUL GOD’ MUSICAL INSPIRED BY CENTENNIAL HISTORY GOD’S ENDURING FAITHFULNESS throughout New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s 100-year history is the inspiration behind a musical commissioned for the school’s centennial celebration. While record enrollments, rapid growth and cutting-edge integration of ministry and education mark the school’s history, so also do struggles brought on by an influenza outbreak, economic downturns, and hurricanes. “Our Faithful God,” written by NOBTS alumni Mike Harland and Chris and Diane Machen, debuted March 8 at NOBTS’ Leavell Chapel. Musicians from a dozen congregations from Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana made up the 150-member choir and orchestra featured in the evening presentation. Mike Harland directs LifeWay Worship. Recording artists Chris and Diane Machen, vocalists with 11 albums, direct a worship and evangelism ministry, The Master’s Music Company. Cliff Duren arranged the music with narration provided by Pamela Vandewalker. Scott White was the evening’s worship leader. President Chuck Kelley pointed back to the school’s founding as he told of God’s faithfulness to the seminary. “One hundred years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention decided to create a seminary from scratch and to put it in the city of New Orleans, a city that had very few Baptists,” Kelley said. “They knew New Orleans would be a great laboratory to train people God was calling into ministry and service.” Noting the largest group of musicians ever gathered at the seminary chapel, Kelley quipped, “What else could we do but have a great big celebration?” Founded as the Baptist Bible Institute, the seminary’s first president dubbed


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story by Marilyn Stewart & photo by Chandler McCall

the school “a child of providence and prayer.” An influenza outbreak closed the school for weeks in 1918, days after opening, proving to be the first of many struggles as the seminary weathered war, economic downturns, and storms. Fred Luter, former SBC president and pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, was narrator and gave a theme interpretation. “We’re here tonight to let you know no matter your plight, no matter your situation, no matter your circumstance, God has promised that He will be with you,” Luter said. “He will never leave you, nor will He ever forsake you because He’s our Faithful God.” Video recorded testimonies of God’s faithfulness included Dr. Kelley retelling of God’s faithfulness during the dark days of Hurricane Katrina and a testimony of personal triumph by a student who has overcome physical disability. “The story of this school, The School of Providence and Prayer, is not simply the story of our school. It’s your story,” Kelley said in conclusion. “What God has done for and with and through NOBTS continues to be a living illustration of what God wants to do for, and with, and in you.”

HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, NOR WILL HE EVER FORSAKE YOU BECAUSE HE’S OUR FAITHFUL GOD. PASTOR FRED LUTER Students and faculty members from the seminary's division of church music ministries performed "Our Faithful God" again March 17 during the "Miami Praise" event at Northside Baptist Church in Hialeah, Fla., Miami Praise, a special centennial event for the seminary's South Florida Extension Center, featured participants from the extension center and area churches.

SEMINARY NEWS Panel Participants Left to Right: Dr. Kevin Brown, NOBTS; Ryan Rice Sr., Connect Church New Orleans; Josh Holland, Level Ground Community Church New Orleans; Dr. Ken Weathersby, Executive Committee SBC; Daylon Taylor, Level Ground Community Church New Orleans; Dr. Page Brooks, Canal Street Church New Orleans. Bottom: Dr. Kelley visits with students following the chapel service at Mississippi College.

RACIAL RECONCILIATION MUST BE ‘BUILT BY THE LORD’ story and photos by Marilyn Stewart

RACIAL RECONCILIATION for the sake of the Gospel was the message at a joint event between Mississippi College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Feb. 27. NOBTS President Chuck Kelley joined Ken Weathersby, vice-president for convention advancement, Executive Committee, SBC, in conversation during the morning chapel service at Mississippi College. “We very naturally seek out people like us,” Kelley told the audience. “Division, separation is natural. Community is supernatural — that is built by the Lord.” Kelley challenged listeners not to make the mistake of overlooking the need for racial reconciliation if they personally hold no grudge or anger against others. “It isn’t about that. It’s about community,” Kelley explained. “The problem the Gospel came to address was the brokenness of the community of man and to form out of all that brokenness, a community of all of us, not just part of us.” Weathersby, a Mississippi College graduate and a Jackson, Miss. native, pointed out that even if a local church is not multi-ethnic, the “Church of Jesus Christ is.” “When we put our hands to the Gospel plow, the barriers break down,” Weathersby said. “We must live in community together as we share Christ together.”

An afternoon panel discussion followed with NOBTS professors and New Orleans area pastors. Ryan Rice Sr., an African American pastor of the racially diverse Connect Church, New Orleans, said yielding to other’s preferences and viewpoints is a matter of discipleship. “Your preferences don’t matter to Jesus, so that means, your pastor’s level of melanin shouldn’t matter either,” Rice said. “We die to our own preferences for the glory of the Gospel.” Josh Holland, a white pastor who shares pastoral leadership with two African American pastors, said, “If we truly believe at the cross there’s level ground, then … we have to sit at the table together. Everybody’s going to have to eat some humble pie and be able to give grace to each other.” Kevin Brown, NOBTS associate professor of social work, offered an assessment of the current state of reconciliation: “I see people beginning to awaken in our churches, but we’ve got a long way to go because we’ve been asleep for a long, long time.”

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SEMINARY NEWS BILLY GRAHAM’S LEGACY HONORED WITH HISTORIC PULPIT AT NOBTS The faded pulpit at the front of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell Chapel during the first week of

the time, rescued the pulpit from Grey Library as waters rose. Busby noted that the pulpit was floating upside down in two feet of water when he found it. When Graham returned to New

March seemed out of place. Out of place

Orleans with his son Franklin in 2006 in

unless one saw Billy Graham’s signature

the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the

scrawled on its top.

pulpit was used again during a special

The time-worn, battered pulpit is the

service for area pastors held at First

one used by Graham during his 1954

Baptist Church in New Orleans. Graham

New Orleans crusade. From Oct. 3-31,

also spoke during a two-night crusade at

1954, Graham preached the Gospel to

the New Orleans Arena during that trip.

crowds at Pelican Stadium and Tulane

These were some of Graham’s last public

Stadium in the Crescent City. According

sermons. Franklin signed the pulpit

to The Times-Picayune, 4,411 people

during the 2006 event.

committed their lives to Christ during the crusade. Leaders at NOBTS placed the pulpit in Leavell Chapel for campus revival week and preview weekend to honor the Gospel-focused legacy of Graham, who passed away Feb. 21. While the historic stadiums where

NOBTS RECOGNIZED BY LOUISIANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was recognized for 100 years

Graham preached in 1954 are long

of ministry during a session of the

gone, the pulpit remains. J.D. Grey,

Louisiana House of Representatives April

long-time pastor of First Baptist Church

19. In a resolution presented by Rep. Rick

in New Orleans, asked Graham and his

Edmonds, an NOBTS alumnus, the House

ministry team to sign the pulpit during

commended Dr. Chuck Kelley for his

the successful crusade and he kept it.

leadership of the school and lauded the

The names — including Graham, George

seminary for its work in training Gospel

Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows, and others

ministers. The resolution noted the

— were etched into the surface and

seminary’s support of church planting and

television and stage for her music and

preserved with a wood-burning tool.

strengthening efforts in New Orleans.

wit, opened the March 15-16 NOBTS

When NOBTS built the J.D. and Lillian

Before the vote on the House floor,

WOMEN’S DISCIPLESHIP EVENT Anita Renfroe, comedian known on

“Discipling Women Into the Future”

Grey Mission Apartments and Library

Edmonds and his wife Cindy hosted a

building on campus, Grey donated

luncheon for members of the seminary

Author and speaker Chris Adams,

the pulpit for use in the Grey Library.

community, Louisiana political leaders,

former lead women’s ministry specialist

For years, the building has served as

representatives from the Louisiana

for LifeWay Christian Resources, told

a temporary residence for countless

Baptist Convention, and area Baptist

participants that “the goal is to disciple

International Mission Board missionaries

pastors and other religious leaders.

women so they can teach someone else.”

during stateside assignment.

Speakers at the luncheon, including Gene

The pulpit gained some of its scuffs


Campus security officials, including Barry Busby, chief of campus police at


Cindy Townsend, women’s minister at

Mills from the Louisiana Family Forum,

First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss.,

during another famous event in New

praised the seminary for its educational

was the afternoon plenary speaker.

Orleans — Hurricane Katrina. When the

programs at the Louisiana State

Nashville-based Bluegrass violinist Aria

levee failures sent flood waters spilling

Penitentiary at Angola and the Louisiana

Stiles led worship. Breakout sessions

onto the NOBTS campus, the pulpit was

Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW)

featured church and NOBTS women’s

not spared.

in St. Gabriel, La.

ministry leaders.

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Seminary has announced a new tuition

introduced a new multi-ethnic initiative,

work program, and local social work

cap plan for SBC students on the main

which he calls “Different Voices,” during

professionals gathered at NOBTS March

campus and those who are taking

the spring trustees meeting April 11.

15 to honor Dr. Jeanine Bozeman's long

mentoring classes. These students will

The goal of the initiative is the increase

tenure at NOBTS and to announce the

pay regular tuition rates for the first 12

in minority representation in every layer

creation of the Jeanine Cannon Bozeman

semester hours of study. However, an

of the seminary community — students,

Social Work Scholarship. Many of

additional one to six hours (for a total

staff, and faculty. Initial plans include

those in attendance contributed to the

of 13-18 semester hours) can be taken

workshops for minority students seeking

scholarship which will assist students

free of charge. According Provost Norris

a ministry in SBC academics and a

studying social work at the seminary. To

Grubbs, the tuition cap will help full-time

doctoral fellowship for minority students.

date, more than $25,000 has been raised

graduate and undergraduate students

As the plan was developed, Kelley met

for the scholarship endowment.

save thousands of dollars and complete

with minority students to share ideas and

degrees in a shorter period of time.

receive feedback. Kelley said the group


wholeheartedly endorsed the name of the initiative and continues to offer suggestions to help the initiative succeed. In support of “Different Voices,” board chairman Frank Cox appointed John

The NOBTS board of trustees

Foster to lead the instruction committee

approved a revision of the M.A. in

for the NOBTS board of trustees. Foster,

missiology degree which created four

retired educator who holds a doctorate,

specializations: mission, church planting,

is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist

diaspora missions and urban missions.

Church in New Orleans. Foster became

The church planting specialization will

the first African American to lead the

help students connect with SEND Church

school’s instruction committee.

Planters for mentoring opportunities while completing their degree. The diaspora and urban missions specializations are responses to the current world situation. As many as 360 unreached people groups have immigrated to the United States in


LEAVELL COLLEGE PLANS $2 MILLION ACADEMIC CHAIR HONORING JIMMY AND RETIA DUKES During a dinner celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Leavell College bachelor’s degree program March 27, an ambitious plan for an endowed undergraduate faculty chair was announced. The college plans to raise $2 million in donations to fund the Jimmy and Retia Dukes Chair for Academic Leadership at Leavell College. Once the money is raised, the interest from the endowment will be used to fund a Leavell College professorship.

recent years. The diaspora specialization

managing editor, was awarded the

prepares ministers to respond to this

Leonard Holloway Award for Exceptional

unprecedented opportunity for gospel

Achievement in Feature Writing (Grand

witness. At the same time, over 50

Prize) during the 54th Annual Wilmer C.

percent of the world’s population is

Fields Awards Competition for her article,

“Boomer” Cates, youth minister, were co-

centered around urban areas. The urban

“Into the City: Miami.” Originally published

recipients of the Caskey Pathfinder Award

missions specialization offers training

in the Fall 2017 Vision, the feature also

in recognition of church growth and

tailored to those who will minister in the

won First Place in the “Single Article: 750-

evangelism initiatives at First Southern

urban centers of the world.

1,500 Words” Feature Writing Category.

Baptist Church, Pearlington, Miss. The

Stewart received the awards during the

Pathfinder award honors smaller church

Baptist Communicators Association

membership pastors and leaders for

meeting in Washington D.C. April 20.

charting new paths toward church growth.

CASKEY AWARD WINNER Jim Allen, senior pastor, and Steven

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DR. ROBERT E. WILSON SR. Robert E. Wilson Sr. has been elected to serve as associate professor of Christian ministry (ministrybased) for the Leavell College faculty. Wilson, who previously led the North American Mission Board’s African American Church Planting Unit, currently leads the seminary certificate training program in Georgia — many of which are equipping church leaders in minority communities.



Wilson earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has 35 years of pastoral and denominational ministry experience. In addition to his work with NOBTS, Wilson is senior pastor of God’s Acre Baptist Church at Ben Hill in Atlanta and is a member of the Georgia Baptist Convention executive committee.

















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As distinguished professors, the men will remain an integral part of the seminary community and continue to be engaged in teaching. Extra duties such as academic committees and administrative tasks will no longer be required, freeing them to focus on instruction and mentoring of students (especially those seeking advanced degrees).




Trustees elected four long-time faculty members as distinguished professors. Mike Edens was elected as distinguished professor of theology and missions; Harold Mosley as distinguished professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Charlie Ray as distinguished professor of New Testament and Greek; and Philip Pinckard as distinguished professor of missions.






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Announcing the 2018

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI NATHAN COTHEN, M.Div. 1987, Ph.D. 1990 During Cothen’s 19-year tenure as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas, the congregation has ministered to those impacted by four major hurricanes, given sacrificially to missions through the IMB and participated in mission efforts on five continents. Since Cothen came as pastor in 1999, Calvary Baptist Church has expanded to eight morning services in four venues on two campuses in two cities. While pastoring in Missouri, Cothen wrote the chapter, “The Pastor as Preacher,” for a book published by the Missouri Baptist Convention for bi-vocational pastors. Cothen and wife Vicki have two sons, Emory and Ethan.

DAVID FLEMING, M.Div. 1994, Ph.D. 2000 As pastor of Champion Baptist Church, Houston, David Fleming continues a life-long commitment to evangelism and discipleship. Fleming has pastored churches in Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, including time as co-pastor with Dr. Bobby Welch, a past SBC president. While in Florida, Fleming taught as an adjunct professor at the NOBTS Orlando extension center. Active in denominational life, Fleming has served as President of the Pastor’s Conference, Florida Baptist Convention, and on the SBC Credentials Committee and the Committee on Committees. He and his wife, Beverly, have three children, Jonathan, Hannah, and Rebekah.

FRED LUTER JR., 1982-1983 While attending NOBTS in ’82 and ’83, Fred Luter began his ministry as a street preacher on a busy corner in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. The small congregation at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church that called him as pastor in 1986 had 65 members, but grew quickly, eventually becoming a congregation of more than 7,000 members. In a historic moment in 2012, Luter was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention during its annual meeting in New Orleans and was reelected the following year. With wife Elizabeth, the couple has two children, Fred Luter III and Kimberly Luter Terrell, and two grandchildren.


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Doctor of Philosophy Doctor of Musical Arts Doctor of Education Doctor of Ministry Doctor of Educational Ministry

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ALUMNI NEWS DEATHS AUTEN, COIT E. (BDiv ’53) Lancaster, S.C., passed away Jan. 25, 2018. He is survived by his two daughters, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and other family members.

CASTLEBERRY SR., ORVILLE E. (DPCT ’62) Little Rock, Ark., passed away Jan. 2, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Molly; daughter, son, four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and many other beloved family members. CHATHAM, DOUGLAS M. (MRE ’68) Acworth, Ga., passed away Jan. 6, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Jackie; daughter, son, three grandchildren, and four siblings. COLLINS, DELTON (BDiv ’60) Columbus, Ga., passed away Nov. 21, 2017. He is survived by his daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brothers, sister, and many nieces and nephews.

GIVENS, LINDA M. (MRE ’82) Rehoboth Beach, Del., passed away Dec. 15, 2017. She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Michael; son, daughter, and five grandchildren. GRIFFITH, CHARLES E. (MRE ’73) Saraland, Ala., passed away Jan. 19, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Marjorie; grandchildren and various other family members. GUESS, CURTIS L. (MDiv ’62) Philadelphia, Miss., passed away Jan. 14, 2018. He is survived by his daughters, five grandchildren and his brothers.

COREY JR., CHARLES S. (MDiv ’77) Bay Saint Louis, Miss., passed away Dec. 3, 2017. He is survived by his four children and nine grandchildren.

BARLOW, JERRY N. (MDiv ’78, ThD ’82) Covington, La., passed away Nov. 11, 2017. Barlow served NOBTS faithfully for 21 years in various roles, including professor of preaching and pastoral work and Dean of Graduate Studies. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Lynne, a daughter and son-in-law, and three grandchildren. BENNETT SR., WILLIAM L. (ThD ’65) Wilmington, N.C., passed away Jan. 11, 2018. He is survived by his children, eight grandchildren, and nine greatgrandchildren. BLOUGH, JOHN W. (CBT ’01) Brandon, Miss., passed away Dec. 31, 2017. He is survived by his children, sisters, and many nieces and nephews. BOARD SR., BOYD V. (ThM ’68) Charleston, S.C., passed away Dec. 29, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Angie; one daughter, two sons, several grandchildren, four siblings, and other family members. BREARDEN, KATHRYN J. (MRE ’57) McComb, Miss., passed away Feb. 10, 2018. She is survived by several cousins and close friends. BRISTER, CHARLES E. (Attended ’78) Summit, Miss., passed away April 28, 2017. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Mary Louise; two daughters, and many other family members.


VISION Spring 2018

DARDEN, GRADY C. (Attended ’82) Kenner, La., passed away Jan. 19, 2018. He is survived by his sister, two nieces, a nephew, and other family members. DAVIS, LYNN (BDiv ’62) Charelston, Tenn., passed away Sept. 17, 2017, He is survived by his daughter, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and his sister. DE LUNA, RICHARD G. (MRE ’80) Florence, Ala., passed away Dec. 9, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Sheila; sons, sister, and four grandchildren. DEAN, STEPHEN T. (MACE ’93) Sylacauga, Ala., passed away March 6, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Karen; daughter, his mother, brother, and numerous family members. DUNN, SHIRLEY J. (MRE ’67) Brunswick, Ga., passed away Dec. 13, 2017. She is survived by her brother, daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

HALL, SHANE B. (MDiv ’99) senior pastor of First Baptist Del City, Okla, passed away Feb. 16, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Misty, two daughters, his parents, brothers, sister, and numerous nieces and nephews. HEYWARD, NORMAN C. (MDiv ’04) Rome, Ga., passed away April 3, 2017. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Loresa; son, daughter, his mother, and one brother. HICKS, TERRY (Attended ’64) Flat Rock, N.C., passed away Nov. 10, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Christine; three daughters, many grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.

GIBSON SR., JOHN F. (BDiv ’53, ThM ’54, ThD ’56) Macon, Ga., passed away March 25, 2018. He is survived by a daughter, a son, eleven grandchildren, three greatgrandchildren, two siblings, a daughter-inlaw, and numerous nieces and nephews.

HOLMES, RONALD W. (MDiv ’66) Vancleave, Miss., passed away March 21, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Natalia; parents, two siblings, and many other family members.

GILCHRIST, JACQUES R. (MDiv ’80) Spring, Texas, passed away July 1, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Susan; son and daughter-in-law, two sisters, and brother.

JACKSON, BENJAMIN F. (ThM ’67) Alabaster, Ala., passed away Dec. 27, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; son and grandchild.

ALUMNI NEWS JAMES, GARY F. (EDS ’72) Palmetto, Fla., passed away Nov. 1, 2017. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ina; six children, nine grandchildren and a number of other family members. JOHNSON, ELIZABETH (MCM ’78) Meridian, Miss., passed away April 18, 2017. She is survived by her sister, nephews, and numerous other family members. JONES, BOBBY G. (Attended ’59) Magee, Miss., passed away Feb. 11, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Brenda; daughter, son, grandchildren and many other family members. KIM, TIMOTHY (BCM ’63, MRE ’64, MCM ’64) Chapel Hill, N.C., passed away Jan. 16, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn; son and daughter. LATHAM, DOROTHY J. (MRE ’58) Brandon, Miss., passed away Jan. 23, 2018. She is survived by several family members. LITTLE JR., JAMES P. (DPCM ’79) Ellisville, Miss., passed away Jan. 27, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Sandra; two daughters, six grandchildren, and one brother. LOVON, THOMAS E. (BDiv ’64) Petersburg, Va., passed away Nov. 11, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Janie; daughter, four grandchildren, and many other family and friends.

daughters, two sons, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. PLOTT, JOE H. (MDiv ’82) Mary Esther, Fla., passed away Nov. 9, 2017. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Miriam; son, daughter, six grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren,and his sister. POPE, LONNIE G. (MDiv ’88, DMin ’94) Gainesville, Ga., passed away Jan. 24, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Suellen; son, three grandchildren, and one brother. PRENTICE, HENRY N. (DPPM ’74) Sulphur, La., passed away Oct. 10, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Sarah; two sons, two daughters, ten grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren. REDDING SR., JAMES C. (BDiv ’63) North Fort Myers, Fla., passed away Nov. 2, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Geri; two sons, two daughters, eleven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and other relatives and friends. RIDDLE JR., BERT E. (Attended ’58) Glenmora, La., passed away Dec. 27, 2017. He is survived wife of 60 years, Rubye; a son, stepson, three grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and many other family members and friends.

PARLETT, THOMAS L. (BDiv ’58, MRE ’59) Mechanicsville, Va., passed away Nov. 3, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Peggy; two

SMITH, HOWARD D. (MDiv ’62) Vicksburg, Miss., passed away Jan. 16, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Betty Lou; son, daughter, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. SNIDER, JANICE W. (Attended ’39) Riverdale, Ga., passed away Sept. 24, 2017. She is survived by many nieces, nephews, and friends. STARNES, CHARLES E. (MDiv ’60) Slidell, La., passed away Dec. 29, 2017. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sandra; son, daughter, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many other family members. STOVALL, RONALD W. (Attended ’00) Jackson, Miss., passed away Feb. 15, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Lynn; four children, eight grandchildren, and other family members.

WATSON, CHOICE E. (DPCH ’66) Greer, S.C., passed away Jan. 2, 2018. He is survived by his daughter, three sons, two sisters, eleven grandchildren, twelve greatgrandchildren.

MCLEMORE, MICHAEL D. (MDiv ’78) Shelby County, Ala., passed away Feb. 10, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Wanda; three children, six grandchildren, mother, two siblings, and several nieces and nephews.

ODOM, DONALD R. (DMA ’91) Hattiesburg, Miss., passed away Nov. 7, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Sarah; daughter, son, mother, brother, and three nieces.

SHULER, LARRY E. (ADPM ’88) Forth Worth, Texas, passed away Jan. 21, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Rita; three children, one brother, and several nieces and nephews.

TATE SR., DOUGLAS D. (Attended ’70) Bagley, Ala., passed away Nov. 19, 2017. He is survived by his daughter, daughter-inlaw, sister, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

MCLAUGHLIN III, THOMAS J. (Attended ’04) Walker, La., passed away Jan. 31, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Sondra; three children, five grandchildren, six siblings, and numerous other family members.

NUTE, ARTHUR “ARTIE” (Attended ’93) Brighton, Tenn., passed away Nov. 15, 2017. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; two daughters, a grandchild and many other loved family members.

SCOTT SR., JERRY K. (DPCH ’59) Greenville, S.C., passed away Jan. 4, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Martha; daughter, son, grandchildren, and sister-in-law.

WEST, RACHEL W. (Attended ’68) Kosiusko, Miss., passed away Dec.16, 2017. She is survived by her husband, Virdie Daniel; one son, two daughters, eight grandchildren, and a host of family members. RUST, RAY P. (BDiv ’50) Richardson, Texas, passed away Feb. 2, 2018. Rust served as acting president prior to Landrum Leavell’s installation as president and continued afterward as executive vice president. He is survived by his daughter, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. SAGER, ALVIN D. (BDiv ’65) Knoxville, Tenn., passed away Feb. 24, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Faye; three children, grandchildren, and many other family members.

WHISONANT, TAYLOR (Attended ’91) Opp, Ala., passed away Aug. 19, 2017. He is survived by his daughter-in-law, three grandchildren, great-grandchild, and many other family members. WOODSON, THOMAS G. (Attended ’66) Salem, W.Va., passed away Feb. 26, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie; son, four siblings, and several nieces and nephews.

VISION Spring 2018


Non-Profit Org. U.S. POSTAGE


Permit No. 100 New Orleans, LA

3939 Gentilly Blvd • New Orleans, LA 70126

Join us for

FOUNDERS' DAY Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018

FOUNDERS' DAY CHAPEL 11 AM • LEAVELL CHAPEL Celebrating Our First Century Featuring DR. CHUCK KELLEY NOBTS President


7 PM • LEAVELL CHAPEL Launching Our Second Century Featuring DR. DAVID PLATT

IMB President & Pastor, McLean Bible Church Worship will include selections from the musical

“Our Faithful God”