Vision Magazine - Winter 2020/21

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New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College



WINTER 2020/21

Newly-Revised D.Min. Degree INNOVATIVE Admission requires a ministry-related Master’s degree or its equivalent and significant DMin Ad ministry experience.

FLEXIBLE Multiple specializations in non-cohort formats (strategic leadership, expository preaching, church revitalization, discipleship & spiritual formation, etc).

VIRTUAL Live interactive video availability for the entire degree as well as residential study options.



VISION MAGAZINE Winter 2020/21


Preparing Servants to Walk with Christ, Proclaim His Truth, and Fulfill His Mission.


repare Here, Serve Anywhere” perfectly expresses the rationale for coming to NOBTS and Leavell College to train for ministry. Everything we do comes back to preparing servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission. And, doing this in a city like New Orleans creates an amazing opportunity for theological training and ministry preparation. The seminary and college are uniquely situated in New Orleans to provide a beautiful training ground for the men and women sent to our school by the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are convinced that the unique culture and people of New Orleans provide a ready-made opportunity for our students to encounter others in desperate need of the Gospel. Our city is full of contradictions: great poverty and great wealth; tremendous beauty and devastating blight; joyous revelry and violent heartbreak. And while other cities may have these features as well, what makes New Orleans unique is the willingness of her people to engage in conversation – to share their story and to hear you share your story. New Orleanians are generally a friendly people ready to strike up a conversation waiting in line for a po’boy, sitting next to you at a Saints or Pelicans game, or sharing a spot on the parade route. This openness is an opportunity to share the Gospel. Our faculty, staff, and students are engaged every day in ministry in a local church setting. Whether in the 7th Ward, Gentilly, the West Bank or other parts of South Louisiana, our family is serving every day, preparing in ways that are available only in New Orleans so they can serve anywhere. Not only do our faculty lead in the classroom teaching theology, languages, discipleship, pastoral ministry, or worship leadership (and numerous other subjects), they are also engaged in local church ministry, taking what they teach in the classroom into their local church ministries to serve the people of New Orleans.

Our students serve alongside so many of these faculty members in those local churches. This is one of the many reasons I want to champion NOBTS and Leavell College, because this family is preparing here, to serve anywhere!

Dr. Jamie Dew President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College

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Volume 76, Number 1

President Vice President for Business Administration


Associate Vice President of Institutional Strategy


Director of Alumni Relations


Editor and Art Director Managing Editor Designer





VISION MAGAZINE is published two times a year by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College. 3939 Gentilly Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70126 (800) 662-8701 (504) 282-4455 |

All contents © 2020 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. On the cover: Photographic Illustration by Cody Moore and R.J. Osborne.


VISION MAGAZINE Winter 2020/21



Before Anything Else, Love God


Heart and Soul


With All Your Mind

11 Love Your Neighbor ADVANCEMENT NEWS 17 Bridge 2.0 Exceeds Goal 18 BCM Grant Helps NOBTS Meet COVID-19 Guidelines


SEMINARY NEWS 19 Children's Ministries Experience Blessings in the Midst of COVID-19 21 Trustees Approve BA+MDiv 22 NOBTS & NAMB Partner for Church Planting Center in New Orleans 23 Leavell College House System 25 JBTM Releases Fall issue 25 New VP, HSC Updates 17


FACULTY NEWS 27 Faculty Books 27 Trustees Elect Wittman 28 'Pastor to Pastor' Podcast Launched ALUMNI NEWS 29 Does Preparation Matter? 30 Alums among Dove Award Winners and Finalists 31 God's Call Steadies and Encourages the Nalls family on Mission Field


33 Class Notes

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[Jesus] said to Him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." – Matt. 22: 37-38 CSB


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BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, LOVE GOD The call to love God with all of one’s being is an invitation to “come and see,” to follow Him with abandon, to yield back to God a disciplined and educated mind, and to live out the Gospel in service and sacrificial love to a watching world. All God-honoring ministry begins there. Yet, answering God's call to ministry requires finding that unique place to prepare that can inspire hearts of devotion, challenge minds toward scholarship, and open a world of opportunity to love neighbors in diverse and unique mission settings. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary/ Leavell College is that place. Preparing here is the right choice.


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a ONE b


ove for God, a deep heart-and-soul kind of love, begins by knowing what God says about Himself. At NOBTS, one course above all others helps master level students form a solid biblical view, and love, of God— systematic theology.

“In one sense, I love handing down what little understanding I’ve received,” Wittman said. “In another sense, I love shaping folks catechetically because my heart is burdened by the widespread biblical and theological illiteracy in our churches. I want people to know that ‘truth is the better friend.’”

“Though all seminary classes contribute to shaping the student’s heart and mind for ministry, systematic theology classes focus on the beliefs we hold about God, his ways, and his world,” said Dr. Adam Harwood, professor of theology and director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at NOBTS.

God uses any obedient follower, formally educated or not, Harwood said, but scripture calls believers to be “good stewards of the opportunities and resources God provides.”

When beliefs about God line up with scripture, the rest of life falls into place. “What we believe about God, scripture, people, sin, salvation, the church, and the future inform our walk with God and our Christian ministry,” Harwood said. “Systematic theology courses provide tools and perspectives that aid students in refining their views and realigning their beliefs to scripture for the rest of their lives.” Often called “the queen of the sciences,” theology grounds other fields of study in communicating the truths of the faith. “Theology is the knowledge and wisdom that God teaches us about Himself,” said Tyler Wittman, assistant professor of theology. Good theology, Wittman said, “centers our minds and hearts on God who is the source of all goodness, beauty, and truth.” Systematic theology provides believers a “fluency” in their faith in order to care for “Christ’s sheep” by seeing all that the Bible teaches about God together as a coherent whole, Wittman said.

Just as a well-qualified surgeon is sought out when surgery is needed, the well-trained servant of Christ is vital, Harwood said, adding, “Wouldn’t we want the same level of training for those who care for our souls?” The biblical teaching that God needs nothing from anyone or anything else first ignited Dr. Tyler Wittman’s love of systematic theology. “God’s Godness really excited me – God is bigger than anything we can imagine; God is ‘bigger’ than comparative words like ‘big’ or ‘bigger’ are capable of depicting,” Wittman said. “That’s a profoundly arresting and comforting thought.” Rather than squeezing God into a “box” or forcing beliefs into “preconceived molds,” systematic theology brings together biblical teachings about God in coherent and complete ways, Wittman explained. “Theology becomes systematic when we discern how truths relate to one another like the many threads of a spider’s web, such that disturbances in one doctrine reverberate in others,” Wittman said. “Doctrines are not neatly compartmentalized in this understanding, but are parts of an organic whole.” Theology provides a starting place for an all-in love of God that involves heart, soul and mind.

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a TWO b


tep off the stairs onto the second floor of NOBTS’ Hardin Student Center and head towards the display cases in the building’s northeastern corner. There, the journey back in time begins. The past comes alive at the Museum of the Bible and Archaeology where displays that span centuries tell the story of the Bible and the dedicated scholarship that preserved it. Artifacts such as a 15th Century Gutenberg Bible or a 1617 King James Version, third edition, take the viewer back in time to see the text as earlier, faithful followers read it. But that is only part of the story. Behind the scenes, NOBTS faculty and students are at work laying down a legacy for future generations through their research with the Michael and Sara Moskau Institute of Archaeology, the Center for Archaeological Research, and the Haggard Center for New Testament Studies (CNTTS), all of which share a commitment to faithfully handle and preserve God’s word. The scholarship and dedication to God’s word represented by those in the various fields of biblical studies testify to what it means to “Love the Lord your God … with all your mind.”

a JOURNEY BACK b For more than 50 years, NOBTS professors have served as directors and field supervisors of several

archaeological digs in Israel, working alongside students and international leaders in cutting-edge research. Today, travel and site accessibility along with digital reproductions of manuscripts make opportunities for research abound, especially, perhaps, in the field of New Testament textual study. “It’s an area that’s expanding,” said Dr. William “Bill” Warren, professor of New Testament and Greek, and CNTTS director. “We keep finding more manuscripts. We’ve got more and more work to be done.” As students come, study, and work beside professors who have extensive experience visiting and working in Israel, they encounter the biblical world in new and exciting ways. The journey to loving God “with the mind” includes learning the biblical languages, and there, NOBTS has much to offer.

a A LOVE OF GREEK b When Dr. Bill Warren came to NOBTS as a student years ago, his Greek professor, Dr. Carlton Winbery, brought Greek manuscript facsimiles into class for students to hold and examine. That’s when Warren’s love of the Greek text began. “It’s amazing to read the text in English but it’s not like studying the Bible in the original languages,” Warren said. “It just comes to life in a different way.”

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Today, Warren invites his students to “handle” the fragile manuscripts digitally as they experience what it means to access, study, and research the bountiful storehouse of Greek New Testament manuscripts available for translation. At the CNTTS, doctoral and masters-level students work alongside Warren in projects – some international – that are impacting the field of textual studies. One project, the world’s first comprehensive, searchable, electronic database of textual variants now included in the Accordance Bible Software, was produced by the CNTTS. The CNTTS team is among the textual centers – if not the leading center – for studying Greek New Testament manuscripts in North America. The CNTTS at times collaborates with other settings such as the International Greek New Testament Project and the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, founded and directed by renowned New Testament scholar, Dr. Dan Wallace. “We have become one of the major settings for people to be trained in the area of Greek manuscript studies for all of North America,” Warren said. A former missionary to Colombia, pastor of a local church, and mission trip leader to Cuba yearly, Warren knows the tools students will need in ministry. “That’s the joy of teaching,” Warren said. “It’s not just a light bulb coming on. All of a sudden a new door opens and they realize there’s more to this journey, there’s something more God can do in my life, and I’ve got another tool to help.”

a FROM THE TEXT TO THE PULPIT b Dr. Archie England walked out of second-year Hebrew class one day knowing something special had happened. It was the kind of class every professor lives for – that moment when study crosses over to worship. England called it “a theological moment of worship.” “It’s so fantastic to see the words that are used, and the order they are in, and the significance of the stems,” England said. “The students and I were having this grand time and they left class saying, ‘I want to go preach this today.’” Ruth’s question to Boaz in Ruth 2:10 came sharply into focus that day when England explained that the language could be better understood as, “How can you possibly like me?” “I was able to break down the theology of biblical womanhood and biblical manhood in Old Testament Israel,” England explained. “And I was able to talk about the five classes of women in that culture, from prostitute to Israelite wife.” Whether the class is master’s level or doctoral, firstyear Hebrew or hermeneutics, England sees each as an opportunity to prepare students to carry the Gospel forward. “What have we learned in class that’s become preachable to you?” England asks at the end of class. “What have we done that you can communicate through a Bible study?” While students often describe England’s Hebrew classes as “demanding,” England pledges to work as hard as they do. England, who has 36 years of ministry experience and extensive study and tour time in Israel, knows this is what makes teaching a joy. “It’s not how much Hebrew you have to do, but how much Hebrew you could do to be a better proclaimer of God’s word,” England said. While loving God with all of one’s mind leads to scholarship, England knows ministry is what is important. “God put me here because this school has missions and evangelism for its heart,” England said. “I have always appreciated the school’s challenge to be engaged in evangelism and sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world.”

FACING PAGE TOP: Bill Warren discusses the unique features of the Codex Vaticanus facsimile. The stunning, detailed replica of this important biblical manuscript serves as a study tool for the Haggard Center. BOTTOM LEFT: An original Gutenberg Bible leaf is included in the holdings of the Museum of the Bible and Archaeology at NOBTS. BOTTOM RIGHT: The museum features an extensive collection of important English Bibles.


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utside the seminary’s gate, about a mile away, is a small church with a wide-angle view. Stand on the front steps of Gentilly Baptist Church and get a feel of what it means to live in New Orleans. Look closer, and the world comes into focus. Ken Taylor, Gentilly Baptist Church pastor and NOBTS professor of missions, sees New Orleans as a mission field unmatched by any other. “It’s the people. It’s the challenge,” Taylor said. “I see it when I go out in the neighborhoods of New Orleans as if I’m going on a mission trip overseas. I feel that same excitement, never knowing what I’m going to find around the next corner.” Neighbors are valued in New Orleans. The city hums with community spirit. When it comes to serving and loving neighbors as Christ commanded, the opportunities in New Orleans are limitless.

a DIVERSE AND SINGLE-MINDED b Taylor, along with associate pastor and Old Testament professor Dr. Dennis Cole, leads Gentilly Baptist Church, a congregation known for its diversity and singleness of mission. As a student more than 36 years ago, Taylor stepped onto the NOBTS campus with his eye on international missions. Called to either the Andes Mountains region of South America or to a country in South Asia, Taylor intended to stay in New Orleans only long enough to get his degree. A simple church visitation outing during Taylor’s student days changed everything. Taylor’s team that day led a neighbor of Central American and Middle Eastern descent to faith in Christ and then watched him grow to be a faithful Christ follower.

It was a lesson Taylor didn’t forget. He discovered “the world” is here in New Orleans. “So, I was hooked,” Taylor said. “God used that, as well as my time on a church staff, to give me a passion for ministry in the city.”

A LABORATORY a FOR URBAN MISSIONS b As Taylor leads students on mission trips around the world, he brings back to the classroom a wealth of knowledge and experience. But Taylor never forgets that the mission field right where he lives is a “laboratory” for urban missions. Whether it is ministering to church members, sharing the Gospel with neighbors, or showing love to families of crime victims somewhere in the city, Taylor leads his students to live out urban missions as they learn about it in the classroom. “There are so many different cultures, so many different personalities. New Orleans is just an interesting place to do ministry and serve the Lord,” Taylor notes with affection. As students learn and serve in an urban setting, Taylor watches them grow. “When students plug in and really decide to be a part of the church, they make such an impact in the church, the community, and in the lives of New Orleans’ residents,” Taylor said. “The needs, the openness that people have here. It’s a rich, rich place of ministry.”

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VISION MAGAZINE Winter 2020/21

BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, LOVE GOD a THE WORLD IS HERE b Where can you serve in international missions without leaving home? How can you gain access to countries that are closed to the Gospel? The answer – come to New Orleans. The Port of New Orleans welcomes thousands of seafarers from around the world every year as cargo and cruise ships come through the port. At Global Maritime Ministries (GMM), the ministry headquartered along the Mississippi River in New Orleans’ Uptown, its ministry to crew members puts the Gospel in the hands of those even from countries closed to the Gospel. “The fastest way to the ends of the earth,” is GMM’s motto and each year chaplains and staffers there lead dozens to faith in Christ as they serve seafarers and port workers along a 150-mile stretch of the river.

LOVE FOR NEIGHBOR, a GATEWAY TO THE WORLD b For Dr. Sandy Vandercook, Leavell College Associate Dean, growing up by the Florida beach with a dad who was a golf pro meant a lifestyle of certain comfort and ease. New Orleans – with its quirky, eclectic ways – seemed a world away. “New Orleans was never in my plan. Why leave the beach to come to a city like New Orleans?” Vandercook quipped. But after college, Vandercook served as a missionary journeyman in the colorful, diverse city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she taught a classroom of students from 15 different countries. When Vandercook arrived later in New Orleans, she discovered a city much like Sao Paulo. “New Orleans is a diverse city. It’s an international city,” Vandercook said. “If you keep your eyes open, you’re going to find opportunity to minister.” Vandercook lives in a New Orleans neighborhood she calls an “eclectic mix of people” of other religions, worldviews, and lifestyles. As the Vandercook family lives life in their neighborhood, they find their home is known as a place where neighbors can come for comfort and prayer. “It’s a ministry that we didn’t necessarily seek out, but that just happened as we lived out being good neighbors,” Vandercook said.

The ministry is directed by Vandercook’s husband, Philip Vandercook, and welcomes student volunteers to serve at the center where seafarers find computer access for contacting families, transportation to stores, and rest and relaxation away from the ship. Serving at GMM—alongside Dr. Vandercook and other staffers—means having the experience of an international mission trip “without the travel and expense,” Vandercook said. “Students realize, ‘I don’t have to fly on an airplane for 16 hours. I don’t have to have a passport. I don’t have to worry about learning a language,’” Vandercook said. “They come and visit and think, ‘This really is a ministry I can do.’” For two student workers, the port ministry opened the world to them, Vandercook said. As the two men, along with their families, shared meals with seafarers on board the ships, they came to see those from the other side of the world as friends and neighbors, rather than people of a different culture. Today, as graduates, the two men and their families serve on the mission field, one in a restricted area. “When students catch a vision of the possibility of ministry here in New Orleans, it really gets them excited about what they can do,” Vandercook said. In New Orleans, the world is already here. A mission field awaits.


FACING PAGE TOP LEFT: Jamie Dew greets neighbors near the seminary campus during a January 2020 outreach and evangelism event. TOP RIGHT: Through Global Maritime Ministries, Sandy Vandercook and her husband, Philip, touch the lives of thousands of international seafarers each year, offering hospitality, love and a Gospel witness. BOTTOM: Ken Taylor talks with a church member at Gentilly Baptist Church near NOBTS.

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Bridge Campaign 2.0




hase two of the Bridge Campaign, a special scholarship fund benefiting New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College students impacted by COVID-19, surpassed its goal of $150,000. Mike Wetzel, vice president of development, said the “Bridge 2.0 Campaign” raised $270,000, benefiting students enrolled in the Winter 2020/21 semester. “The fund was meant to help students that might have been struggling because of the economic impact of COVID-19 to be able to come and continue in their studies,” Wetzel said. Bridge 2.0 provided students full tuition for one fall semester class at the undergraduate or graduate level. The success of the Bridge 2.0 Campaign mirrored the highly successful phase one Bridge Campaign in the spring that benefited students enrolled in the Summer 2020 term. In phase one, the Bridge Campaign goal of $300,000 was met and exceeded providing students a 50 percent discount on tuition on each course taken during the Summer 2020 term and giving NOBTS a higher summer enrollment than in previous years.


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The response to Bridge 2.0 was unexpected. In mid-March, NOBTS moved to online courses to meet governmental guidelines regarding COVID-19. When health restrictions were extended into the summer months, the Bridge Campaign was set up to help students bridge the financial gap created by a struggling national economy. As the fall semester approached, the need for a second phase of the campaign became apparent and a goal of $150,000 was set. Wetzel said that as the Bridge 2.0 Campaign went into effect, faculty members and administrators relayed to him students’ comments about the fund, noting, “What a difference it is making.” Kirk Casey (’89, MDIV), associational missionary for the Cumberland Plateau Baptist Association in Crossville, Tenn., contributed to the Bridge Campaign because he remembers what it was like as a student living on a lean budget. Casey benefited from a scholarship as a student and remembers how God used others to providentially bless his family during his days at NOBTS. “I’m always trying to give back what I can,” Casey said. Wetzel said that he is thankful the seminary has been blessed with donors who provide consistent and planned support. Many of the same givers responded to the Bridge campaigns as well. Wetzel said he is “impressed” by those who give as they can.


BCM Emergency Grant



ew Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s counseling and child education centers received a $20,000 Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) emergency funding grant recently to offset the costs of implementing COVID-19 health and sanitation guidelines. The funds benefited the Leeke Magee Counseling Center (LMCC) and the Danielson Early Learning Center (ELC) at NOBTS which provide affordable counseling services and child education services to the underserved in the Greater New Orleans area. “Several of our community families had been without childcare of any kind since March which impacted their ability and availability to work outside the home,” said Pattie Shoener, former vice president of business affairs. “Parents were grateful to have a safe, reliable, trusted Early Learning Center to which they could bring their children.” Shoener said parents responded promptly on the first day of the ELC re-opening, filling it to near capacity. The LMCC has continued to provide “very vital support” at a time when many have experienced financial stress, uncertainty, and a sense of feeling alone, Shoener explained. “BCM has reached out to help us help our community by serving their children and helping their mental health in such a way that they truly feel like partners in reaching out to better our community,” Shoener said. BCM is a Christian philanthropic organization supporting projects and programs dedicated to improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of individuals in a five-parish, greater New Orleans area, according to the organization’s website. Last year, NOBTS received a $1,005,000 core funding grant from BCM supporting the work of the counseling and child education centers. The grant is being distributed over a three-year period. The application for the funds stated that preference would be given to “grantee-partners whose work aligns with BCM’s strategic priorities” of early childhood education and care for behavioral health and traumainformed care. Charles Beasley, BCM President and CEO, pledged the BCM’s continued commitment to its partners in his

This year's NOBTS Counseling Conference, a virtual event due to the virus, focused on the challenges of providing care during COVID-19.

letter to NOBTS announcing the award. Beasley wrote, “Together, we can help our community deal with the many challenges we are all facing by combatting the most complex problems affecting our community.” In the application for the award, a commitment was made to use the funds “in the hopes that once granted, we may continue to serve and eternally impact hundreds of families within Greater New Orleans through the child care and counseling services provided by NOBTS.” Funds provided to the ELC allow for the hire of additional staff in order to meet state requirements for a reduced student-to-teacher ratio. Other expenses offset by the emergency funds include employee-related training for reorganizing and sanitizing the center. At the LMCC, funds were used to help train faculty, staff, and students in Telecounseling, a program allowing for virtual counseling sessions. As the LMCC conference rooms reopened for use, the funds helped with the cost of installing plexiglass and heightened sanitation procedures. Mark Hagelman, director of development, pointed to Matthew 25:35-40 in expressing his gratitude for the work of BCM and its partnership with NOBTS. “How appreciative I am to have BCM empower NOBTS financially to care for the hurting in our community,” Hagelman said. “Their care for New Orleans is what Christ instructs the faithful to do.” VISION MAGAZINE Winter 2020/21


Children's Ministries Experience



The silver lining to an unprecedented year for children’s ministry might be the innovation and surprising moments of family discipleship that resulted.

For these three children’s ministry leaders, the COVID-19 quarantine spurred creativity and brought about new discoveries and insights. Though the pandemic may continue to ebb and flow, some lessons are here to stay.

CHILDREN SACRIFICED, TOO Quarantine for First Baptist Church, New Orleans began the day the children’s annual Bikeathon, a favorite fundraising event for children, was scheduled. Faye Scott (BGS '96, MACE '07, EdD '19) and her children's ministry team scrambled to brainstorm ways to keep the event together. The event went virtual as children chose their own routes, times for riding and then uploaded videos of their participation to show sponsors. The money raised — $4,000 — purchased meals for healthcare providers and first responders to be delivered by children and their parents, following strict safety guidelines. At Easter, children’s leaders used an “at-home” scavenger hunt to show the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. In one part, children hunted for red fingernail polish, and then teachers reminded them of Jesus’ blood and how a different kind of “nails” brought about God’s redemptive purpose.

We’ve had to train ourselves on so many different levels. So many things we’ve had to ‘reinvent.' But what made my heart soar was how families were spending time together. ~ FAYE SCOTT

Vacation Bible School went virtual, as well, with modified lessons and home-delivered supplies, resources, crafts, and even snacks. But the favorite event was a modified Fall Festival, a Treasure Hunt with a map and clues that sent parents and children from home-to-home until they discovered a “treasure chest” at the final stop, Scott said. “There’s so much we’ve learned. We’ve had to train ourselves on so many different levels. So many things we’ve had to ‘reinvent,’” Scott said. “But what made my heart soar was how families were spending time together.” “Children sacrificed, too,” Scott pointed out. Often, children had to give up birthday parties or sleepovers with friends to protect grandparents and family members, Scott explained. “Despite all the hard things that have happened in 2020, we also have to look at the good things,” Scott said. “It’s up to us as leaders to help our kids not see just the things they’ve missed out on, but to see the blessings that have come out of this.”

KIDS NEED COMMUNITY The small, tight-knit children’s group at Metairie Church, Metairie, La., enjoyed being together on Sundays and as parents met in small groups throughout the week. Then quarantine came. Jessica Carpenter (current BACMin student), children’s minister, encouraged parents to use their time to “start new traditions” and begin, or expand, a family discipleship time. Family devotions and activities were included in the weekly newsletter Carpenter sent out during COVID.


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But Wednesday nights were reserved for fun via Zoom, Carpenter said. “Pajama night” or “princesses and superheroes activities” or the children’s favorite, a home scavenger hunt, helped provide what children were missing.


FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP WINS Soon after in-person services began again at Living Hope Church, Clarksville, Tenn., two children led to faith by their parents during the COVID shutdown were baptized. Jessica Albritton (MACE '17), NextGen Minister who oversees ministries from birth through college, said God used the quarantine to bolster conversations about God. “The parents’ involvement was a significant influence,” Albritton said. “Being home and being able to ask questions helped the children come to faith.” Before COVID, it was easy for parents to rely on church staff or “fall into the trap” of thinking they were not qualified or trained to answer their children’s spiritual questions, Albritton said.


The shutdown changed that. “Kids need community, too,” Carpenter said. “I wanted to make Wednesday night fun for them because I knew they were also missing out on community.” When Carpenter sensed something different in the children one night, she said, “You know we’re just going to talk.” It became a time of fellowship the children needed. As modified in-person worship services have resumed, worshiping alongside parents has proven to be a bright side. “One child, age 5, is picking up on words used in worship and asking her mother what they mean,” Carpenter said. “The children ask, ‘Why do people raise their hands’ or ‘Why do we sing?’ We’ve created an opportunity for a child to ask questions and for families to have a time of family discipleship.”

“The children are asking questions, and parents are answering questions and seeing their children grow in faith,” Albritton said. “The parents realized, ‘I can do this.’” COVID made it difficult for schools to establish new routines, and children were left confused, Albritton said. Church needed to be different, she added. Albritton’s ministry team worked hard to maintain consistency by providing lesson plans, resources, service opportunities for families to do together, and encouragement. “I hope the child will be able to look back on this time and say the leaders still cared for me,” Albritton said. “The leaders still poured into my life. There was that intentionality, and there still was spiritual growth.”

On Sundays, a designated area on one side of the small sanctuary, with a couch and play area, is reserved for families with children. “It’s a little noisy, but I love it,” Carpenter said. “I love seeing families worshiping together.”

Kids need community, too. I wanted to make Wednesday night fun for them because I knew they were also missing out on community. ~ JESSICA CARPENTER



Trustees Approve LEAVELL COLLEGE BA+MDIV AND DUAL ENROLLMENT an efficient pathway in their education and getting them to the field more quickly.”



he New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved three initiatives—a revised five-year BA+MDiv program, dual enrollment, and credit by examination—designed to enhance Leavell College’s efforts to serve traditional college-aged students and potential students.

BA+MDIV PROGRAM The revised BA+MDiv offers motivated students the opportunity to earn a bachelor of arts degree from Leavell College and a master of divinity degree from NOBTS in as little as five years. Previously, the program was only available to students training for pastoral ministry. The approved revisions open the program to students in all of Leavell College’s majors. In addition to saving time and money for students, the program will reduce coursework redundancies. “The revised approach to our five-year BA+MDiv is exciting because it provides greater flexibility for students and opens the door for more undergraduates to pursue this option,” said Jamie Dew, NOBTS and Leavell College president. “No longer is the five-year option limited to just one major, but now multiple undergraduate majors can be incorporated in this program, allowing more students

DUAL ENROLLMENT The dual enrollment program approved by the trustees offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to enroll in Leavell College for up to six credit hours per semester. Students who participate earn both high school credit and college-level credit (up to 24 hours). Participants enter as non-degree seeking students and are limited to a list of approved 1000- and 2000-level courses. “The dual enrollment program includes courses taught on-campus, online, and at extension centers,” said Thomas Strong III, dean of Leavell College. “This is a great way not only to begin to earn credits towards a degree early but also to begin preparation for ministry.”

CREDIT BY EXAMINATION Responding to the growing number of high schools utilizing the Advanced Placement Program (AP) and the College Level Examination Plan (CLEP), the trustees voted to accept credit through examination for Leavell College students. Students who achieve qualifying scores on AP or CLEP examinations may be awarded up to 30 hours of college-level credit.

Board Approves REVISIONS TO DMIN PROGRAM The NOBTS Board of Trustees approved revisions to the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program to align it with new standards released by the school’s accrediting body, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The updates also allow for greater flexibility in assessing ministry experience due to the rise in bi-vocational and co-vocational ministry. The changes also allow graduates with master of arts degrees in ministry fields to begin the program without a lengthy M.Div. leveling process. The D.Min. program consists of 30 credit hours of M.Div. graduates and 36 credit hours for those who hold a qualifying M.A.


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n a move that brings together New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s heart to reach the city and the North American Mission Board’s efforts for Gospel impact in New Orleans, NOBTS trustees approved a partnership with NAMB to launch a church planting center on the NOBTS campus. The impact of the new center will resonate well beyond New Orleans as church planters are trained and sent out to serve throughout North America. “We are thrilled to partner with NAMB in reaching the city of New Orleans,” said Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College. “We believe that this city provides the perfect context for training in urban ministry and church planting. If you can do ministry in this city, you can do it anywhere.” “This partnership allows our students a wonderful opportunity to make an impact for Christ in a city that desperately needs the Gospel, and it strengthens the good work that NAMB is already doing here in the city,” Dew said. Dew’s heart for missions and engaging the city is expressed in the NOBTS mission statement adopted last year, committing the seminary to prepare servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission.

Kevin Ezell, NAMB president, believes the partnership can assist in NAMB’s efforts to meet the growing need for equipped church planters across North America. “I am incredibly excited about where Jamie Dew is leading NOBTS and this partnership will make the seminary a hub for anyone who wants to be immersed in the skills needed for church planting,” Ezell said. “We have the capacity to plant hundreds of additional churches each year if there are more qualified planters available and I believe this partnership will help us do that.” As a NAMB Send City, New Orleans is the beneficiary of NAMB resources, church planting efforts and ministry initiatives. The center will centralize NAMB’s investment in the city. The center will be located on campus in a 4,900-squarefoot space inside the Hardin Student Center. The center’s location will provide visibility as well as the opportunity to enhance student life. NAMB will use the space for labs, assessments, training, coaching, “Catch the Vision” tours and conferencing. NOBTS will have access to the area for meeting space, as needed. MissionLab at NOBTS will continue to facilitate church mission trips and provide mission opportunities in New Orleans. The NOBTS/NAMB partnership will bolster missions opportunities in the city, network resources, and coordinate missions and church planting efforts. NOBTS will work closely with NAMB on academic and mission projects in the city of New Orleans. VISION MAGAZINE Winter 2020/21



House System


Leavell College House System promotes



eavell College at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary launched a new initiative to promote fellowship and community and foster spiritual growth among undergraduate students – the House System. During the launch meeting and house placement event on Nov. 16, NOBTS and Leavell College President Jamie Dew challenged the students to make the most of this new opportunity. He said that the House System can reshape and re-energize the college experience at Leavell College, but will only reach its potential if students support the effort. “If we do this right and do this well, the House System will change everything about Leavell College,” Dew said. “For the House System to work, you, the students, have to buy into it. You, the students, have to pour yourselves into these communities. The administration … we are behind you 100 percent. We are willing to make the changes needed to empower this.” Patterned after the college systems at Oxford and Cambridge, the House System will impact every aspect of the Leavell College student’s experience. From


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discipleship to missions, from fellowship to friendly completion, the House System will enhance the student experience at Leavell College. “The house system helps to round out Leavell College by connecting academics, fellowship, missions and ministry, and just good fun,” said Thomas Strong III, dean of Leavell College. “The house system will provide a great framework for the life of a Leavell College student. The excitement that has been generated by the system already has been noticeable. “ Each undergraduate student was placed in one of three houses named for historic Christian leaders who exemplify the values listed in the school’s mission statement. That statement reads, “Leavell College prepares servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission.” Elliot House, named after missionaries Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, exemplifies the value of devotion (walking with Christ). Jim and Elisabeth originally ministered to the Quechua people of Ecuador. After Elliot and his fellow missionaries heard about an isolated people group, the Huaorani, they began an effort to make contact with them. Jim and four other missionaries were martyred by the Huaorani in 1956. In 1958, Elisabeth went to live among the people who killed her husband. Through her


act of forgiveness and devotion to the Great Commission, many of the Huaorani came to faith in Christ. Bonhoeffer House exemplifies Truth by honoring the life and ministry of German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Serving during the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, Bonhoeffer stood firm on Gospel truth and opposed the brutal, evil reign of Adolf Hitler. Standing for Truth cost Bonhoeffer his life in 1945 when he was executed at a Nazi concentration camp. Moon House exemplifies missions recalling the legacy of Lottie Moon, the beloved Southern Baptist missionary to China. Moon moved to China in 1873 and ministered for 39 years. Starving and sick, colleagues in China arranged for her to return home in 1912, but she only made it as far as Japan. Moon died in Kobe Harbor on Dec. 24, 1912. Her sacrifices for the Gospel and her commitment to missions are remembered through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering which raises millions of dollars each year which undergird the efforts of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. “This is a tradition that goes way, way, way back,” said Dew. In fact, the practice began long before the founding of the United States and even predated the Protestant Reformation. The University of Oxford adopted the “house system” approach in 1096 and Cambridge followed Oxford’s example by instituting a house system in 1209. As dean of the college, Strong believes the House System will be a “game-changer” for his students. He is especially encouraged by the discipleship focus of the houses. “At the heart of the college is discipleship – walking with Christ constantly and consistently,” Strong said. “The house system encourages each person to do this individually through intentional discipleship. Also, the opportunity to share the journey with others for encouragement and growth is an exciting part of the journey.”

Corey McKinney, Director of the Elliot House, explains the values exemplified in the lives of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot for whom his house was named.

Strong believes the members of each house will spur one another along in the discipleship process and yield lifelong spiritual dividends in the lives of the students. “One of the exciting opportunities provided by the house system is the ability to connect with others. The members of the house will have the opportunity to grow closer,” Strong said. “Through this process, I am convinced they will grow in their relationship with Christ and in turn, they will grow closer in community. This becomes the pattern for the remainder of life.” Another key aspect of the House System is faculty involvement. Strong said that each house will have three faculty members involved to help with discipleship and spiritual formation. “This involvement will provide a time for the faculty to invest in the lives of the students and to encourage them,” he said. “This investment of faculty in the lives of students has been at the heart of the ministry of Leavell College.” Each house will have three student positions – director, community advisor, and scholar – along with three faculty participants. Each house's leadership will plan and implement activities, mission projects, and fellowship for their own houses, and all three houses will participate in joint gatherings and ministry projects. In addition to this discipleship, missions, and fellowship aspects, the House System will host a friendly competition between the different houses. The yearly competition will conclude with one house receiving the Leavell College House Cup.

Audrey Scroggins opens her house placement card during the Leavell College House Placement Reveal event on Nov. 16.

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Baptist Center releases Fall journal The Winter 2020/21 edition of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry takes advantage of a unique moment in NOBTS history to honor God’s faithfulness in the past while embracing a 21st century call to prepare servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission. Each article, written by a NOBTS/LC faculty member, provides a unique perspective on how God has prepared NOBTS for this moment in time. In the afterword, Dr. Jamie Dew shares his God-given vision for building on the seminary's legacy of faith and service by leading every member of the NOBTS family to “take up the towel and the basin” and serve others for the sake of God’s kingdom. Visit to read the issue.

Despite canceled season



rchaeologists from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary planned to spend much of June and July excavating at Tel Hadid, the site of a biblical city in Israel. But like so many other events in 2020, their dig season was a casualty of COVID-19. Despite the loss of this summer’s excavation season, the Tel Hadid dig was the featured cover story of the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) summer issue. The BAR feature, “Tel Hadid: Through the Ages,” was co-authored by NOBTS and Tel Aviv University professors. The popular magazine enjoys broad readership which ranges from members of the general public to professional archaeologists and scholars. Tel Hadid is located approximately three miles southeast of the Ben Gurion Airport and nine miles from Tel Aviv. The park which encompasses the site is owned and managed by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL). The 140-acre site is covered with trees. In addition to numerous pine trees planted by KKL, Hadid is home to a working olive plantation. The Bible mentions Hadid three times – Ezra 2:33, Nehemiah 7:37, and Nehemiah 11:34 – all in connection with the return of exiles from the Babylonian captivity. In 25

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all three accounts, Hadid is mentioned in connection with Lod, a site approximately three miles southwest of the tel. After conquering the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Neo-Assyrian Empire resettled other conquered peoples in the land (2 Kings 17). A rescue excavation in the 1990s related to highway construction uncovered two Akkadian inscriptions at the site which confirm the presence of nonIsraelite peoples at the site. Excavation leaders hope to learn more about the origins of the deportees who were resettled in Hadid and what type of society they created when they arrived. Visit for more information about the excavation and updates from the Tel Aviv team’s work this summer. The NOBTS team plans to rejoin the work for the 2021 dig season.


NOBTS trustees approve



he executive committee of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College trustees approved the appointment of Larry W. Lyon as vice president for business administration and a renovation plan for the school’s Hardin Student Center, Dec. 1. Leading up to the meeting, Pattie Shoener, vice president for business affairs, announced her intention to retire from NOBTS to care for her aging mother who experienced a health emergency during the fall semester. Shoener decided to move towards retirement and relocate to Pennsylvania to provide the care her mother needs. “Pattie has been everything I hoped she would be as the VP for business affairs when I hired her a year and a half ago,” said Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College.” She is a strong leader, excellent administrator, and an even better person.” “Her leadership will be missed on this campus, but her friendship even more. We thank God for the wonderful contribution she has made to the NOBTS family over the past 30 years,” Dew said. Shoener’s retirement from such an important role necessitated the appointment of Larry Lyon as vice president for business administration. Lyon came to NOBTS in the summer of 2019 to serve as vice president for enrollment – a new position created by Dew to provide strategy and oversight to the school’s enrollment efforts. During his first year and a half, Lyon has reshaped and improved enrollment and admissions processes by reorganizing office tasks and implementing new systems. “I have always had the highest confidence in Larry’s leadership and administrative abilities. Having worked with him for 10 years, I’ve seen his capabilities first hand and am excited to have him in the new role of VP for Business Administration,” Dew said. “He sees problems clearly and has the unique ability to build teams and systems that resolve difficulties and advance the mission of our school. This is why I brought him with me to NOBTS in the first place. I rest easier knowing that he will oversee the business and operations side of the house here at NOBTS and Leavell College.” In addition to his business administration role, Lyon will retain oversight of admissions, enrollment, the registrar’s

LARRY LYON office, and the office of communications and marketing. The former vice president for enrollment position will be converted to an associate vice president role. The associate vice president will direct the day-to-day operations for enrollment. Lyon also serves on the faculty as associate professor of ethics at NOBTS. The trustees also approved a plan to renovate the Hardin Student Center. The planned improvements include cosmetic enhancements as well as new spaces for study and student collaboration. The most noticeable renovations will occur in the first-floor public spaces, including the atrium, the coffee shop and the post office. The goal is to create a fresher-looking hub for student activity, with a fun, inviting atmosphere that encourages students to gather and fellowship. An anonymous donor gave funds to cover the cost of the project. “The Hardin Student Center (HSC) is one of the most important buildings on our campus. Yet, it is in much need of renovation and updating,” Dew said. “We are grateful to God for the generous gift of a donor that makes it possible for us to do just that. In the future, the HSC will be an enjoyable place for gatherings, fellowship, and student events.” Working to strengthen and update the master’s programs focused on ministry to women, the trustees approved two new master’s degrees – the master of divinity with specialization in ministry to women and the master of arts in ministry to women. The 82 to 84-hour M.Div. and the 36-hour M.A. are designed to prepare women for vocational or lay leadership in ministry to women.

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FACULTY BOOKS How Do We Know?, Second Edition By Jamie Dew and Mark W. Foreman

Epistemology, the study of knowledge, can often seem like a daunting subject. And yet few topics are more basic to human life. We are inquisitive creatures by nature, and the unending quest for truth leads us to raise difficult questions about the quest itself. What are the conditions, sources, and limits of our knowledge? Do our beliefs need to be rationally justified? Can we have certainty? In this primer on epistemology, James Dew and Mark Foreman guide readers through this discipline in philosophy.

InterVarsity Press 2020

JAMIE DEW, PhD is President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College and Professor of Christian Philosophy. He is the coauthor of Philosophy: A Christian Introduction and Understanding Postmodernism: A Christian Perspective.

Kingdom Students

By Norris Grubbs and Cory Barnes

In Kingdom Students, authors Norris Grubbs and Cory Barnes (NOBTS alumnus and Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor of Christian Studies at Shorter University) invite college students to embrace their Godgiven responsibility to steward their time, resources, and educational opportunities for the glory of God and the good of the kingdom.

NORRIS GRUBBS, PhD is Provost and Professor of New Testament and Greek at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. B&H Academic 2020

Can We Trust the Bible on the Historical Jesus? By Robert B. Stewart, Craig Evans, and Bart Ehrman

The book features a debate between two great Bible scholars about the New Testament as a reliable source on the historical Jesus. Bart Ehrman, an agnostic scholar, debates Craig Evans, an evangelical scholar, about the historical Jesus and what constitutes "history." What are sound methods of historical investigation? The debate and Robert Stewart's introductory framework make this book an excellent primer to the study of the historical Jesus, and readers will come away with a deeper appreciation for the quest for the historical Jesus.

Westminster John Knox 2020


ROBERT B. STEWART, PhD is Professor of Philosophy and Theology, occupying the Greer-Heard Chair of Faith and Culture at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as Director of the Institute for Christian Apologetics and the Defend Conference at NOBTS.

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NOBTS Trustees elect



he New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees elected noted scholar and theologian Tyler R. Wittman to the faculty as Assistant Professor of Theology. Wittman began serving on August 1 through a presidential appointment. “Tyler has been well received by our students and faculty and strengthens our academic work. In just a few months here on campus, Tyler has already embraced our city, our students, and our faculty,” said Jamie Dew, President of NOBTS and Leavell College. “We thank God for bringing such a wonderful faculty member to us and look forward to serving alongside him for years to come.” Wittman’s academic journey began at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and the Master of Theology (Th.M.) degrees. In 2016, Wittman was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree at the prestigious University of St. Andrews in Scotland for his dissertation, “Confessing God as God: Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth on Theology and Economy.” While at St. Andrews, Wittman served as a postgraduate tutor and taught seminars on the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of creation. Wittman taught at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2017 until 2020. While on the SBTS faculty, Wittman taught undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral courses. Wittman is the author of God and Creation in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth, published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. His forthcoming book, Seeing Christ and the Trinity in Scripture: A Biblical Reasoning Toolkit, co-authored with Bobby Jamieson, is scheduled for publication in 2021.

We thank God for bringing such a wonderful faculty member to us and look forward to serving alongside him for years to come. ~ JAMIE DEW

Adam Hughes and Charlie Ray III



eing a pastor is challenging. Two seasoned pastors, Dr. Adam Hughes and Dr. Charles Ray III, address the unique needs of today’s pastor in the podcast Pastor to Pastor as they share encouragement, insight and wisdom drawn from their personal experiences and from God’s word. From recognizing God’s call to the ministry to working out what it means to lead a congregation, this podcast truly is “pastor to pastor” as Dr. Hughes and Dr. Ray encourage pastors in remaining committed to sound exegesis, theology and practice. In addition to the podcast, the two have created many other resources which are available at their website,

Visit to find helpful resources for pastors and a link to the Pastor to Pastor podcast. VISION MAGAZINE Winter 2020/21



Vision Magazine Winter 2020/21



s a teenager my dad would sometimes ask me to help him with his work. He was a small businessman with his own home improvement business which operated out of our house on a major US highway. Sometimes he would let me paint steel posts or decorative columns used to carry the weight of an aluminum carport or patio cover. Oftentimes it was fun because it involved using the electric spray painter rig. The items to be painted needed to be scrubbed well with a wire brush and then wiped down with a rag and liquid cleaner. Primer was prepared and poured into the spray painter rig. Few would ever see the primer but this coat was critical to the endurance, appearance, and quality of the final color coats of paint. If the primer was not applied well to the posts or columns, the final coats of paint would quickly fade, rust, or not adhere.

DENNIS PHELPS is Director of Alumni Relations and ChurchMinister Relations and Professor of Preaching, occupying the J. D. Grey Chair of Preaching. |

In painting metal, preparation is critical to the process. Corners cut in the preparation will eventually be noticed in the performance of the final product.

Isn’t the same even more true in ministry training and theological education? Cutting corners will eventually be noticed. Short cuts may offer an immediate result but the long-term will prove the decreased quality of preparation. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College offer nationally and regionally accredited ministry training and theological education. Our processes and degrees are reviewed regularly by those outside of our school for accountability, appropriateness for our mission assigned by the Southern Baptist Convention, and best practices. Our contexts of instruction (including Miami, Atlanta, Birmingham, and New Orleans) offer a diversity of cultures for preparation. Urban, rural, suburban, town and country, international – each of these contexts is possible as a real-life ministry laboratory through our learning designs. Preparation matters. As an alumnus of NOBTS/Leavell College, you are our greatest ambassador. When you share with others the preparation you received here for ministry and the impact NOBTS has made on your life, you are encouraging others to answer God’s call and to follow in faith. Sharing your experiences helps encourage others to be all that they can be for the sake of the Kingdom.


Mike Harland leads the premiere performance of "Our Faithful God" during New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's year-long Centennial Celebration in 2018.

NOBTS alums, Mike Harland, Chris and Diane Machen,



ay “Dove Awards,” and the words “top honor” and “Gospel-centered” will come to mind of anyone who loves Christian music. This year, NOBTS alums were counted among the winners and finalists of the coveted award. Mike Harland (MCM ’87) won his second career Dove Award for the Easter musical “Messiah Overcame” with co-creator John Darin Rowsey in the category Musical of the Year at the 51st Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Awards presentation, Oct. 30. Harland’s first Dove Award came in 2016 in the same category. “The privilege of creating content for the church to use in leading worship and sharing the Gospel — especially telling the Easter story — that privilege is far and away more significant to me than being acknowledged with an award,” Harland said. “Messiah Overcame” was published by Daywind and distributed by LifeWay Worship.

The ceremony marked another first for Harland— being nominated in two different categories in the same year. In Harland’s nomination to a second category — Choral Collection of the Year — he joined co-creators Chris Machen (MCM ’80) and wife Diane Machen as finalists for their work “Our Faithful God,” a project commissioned for the NOBTS Centennial Celebration, 2017-18. “Our Faithful God” debuted in Leavell Chapel, March 8, 2018. Harland, the former Director of LifeWay Worship, is Associate Pastor of Worship at First Baptist Church, Jackson, Miss. Chris and Diane Machen, vocalists with 11 albums, direct a worship and evangelism ministry, The Master’s Music Company. Well-known musical arranger Cliff Duren collaborated on both projects. “GMA is an organization that wants to see the Gospel spread through music,” Harland said. “For the GMA membership to say this project does that and to honor it in that way is very affirming and exciting. I’m grateful my peers felt that way about it.”

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The Nalls family pictured from left to right: Abigail (12), Emma Claire (10), Katie, Daniel (6), and Chris. The Nalls serve with IMB in Tete, Mozambique.



merican Christians tend to idealize mission service. We are grateful for the men and women who answer God’s call to live in another culture and share the Gospel in remote and difficult places. We honor the sacrifices missionaries make for this Gospel witness but often fail to take a wide-eyed look at the difficulties they face and internalize their challenges. We don’t see the sweat or the tears. Chris and Katie Nalls serve in a difficult place — Tete, Mozambique. During a recent video interview, Chris and Katie called the country a “dry and weary land – physically and spiritually.” Currently experiencing summer, temperatures often surpass 100 degrees. Due to the hot, muggy conditions cooling their home is difficult. Even during the other seasons of the year, Mozambique is uncomfortably hot. 31

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But the weather conditions are the least of the problems the Nalls encounter — their biggest challenge comes from animism practiced by so many in the country. While the weather keeps the family uncomfortable, they grieve over the lostness in Mozambique. Chris and Katie arrived in Tete 12 and a half years ago with a burden for the lost and a desire to help believers grow. Their oldest daughter, Abigail, was less than a year old when they arrived. She celebrates her 13th birthday in December. The Nalls now have three children— Emma Claire (10) and Daniel (6) were born in Africa after the Nalls arrived. While the city was new to them, the country was not. Chris and Katie both served in other parts of Mozambique through the Journeyman program with the International Mission Board (IMB). During their time in Mozambique as Journeymen, they joined the IMB team in praying that God would raise up missionaries to serve in Tete. They never dreamed that God would call them to Tete.

ALUMNI NEWS “All we knew about Tete was that it was the hottest place in Mozambique,” Katie said. “We prayed never thinking that would still be a need by the time we finished seminary.” During their years at NOBTS, they prayed about serving other places, but God consistently guided them to Tete. Their exposure to African and Mozambican culture and their working knowledge of the Portuguese language gave them a head start when they arrived. However, there were still moments of cultural shock along with the ongoing challenges with the climate. The IMB tasked Chris with planting churches among the Nyungwe people (an unreached people group) and leadership development in existing churches. Chris’s work often took him to remote areas to assist with church planting efforts or leadership training activities before COVID-19 hampered these efforts. The global pandemic has altered life for Chris, Katie, and their three children. Despite the virus, God is at work. With the help of Send Relief, Chris was able to train churches to build and implement “tippy-tap” handwashing stations to help limit the spread of the virus. Chris utilized the footoperated, gravity-driven handwashing stations to reduce Cholera in a temporary housing area after a flood in 2019. He knew that the touch-free handwashing stations would help with COVID as well. The initiative also provided Chris with the opportunity to invest time with church leaders in the region despite the pandemic restrictions. Another big Send Relief project in the area is nearing completion — a unique well system called an infiltration gallery. The concept utilizes a seasonal river bed, which is usually dry, to harvest water below the sand. It has been a

During the construction of the infiltration gallery well, three people received the "living water" of salvation.

massive undertaking, but with help from volunteers from the U.S. and local workers the project is almost ready. The last step will be to fit the well with a manual hand pump. The project will meet a practical need by providing a reliable source of clean water where potable water is scarce. However, the well project has already resulted in some finding the “living water” only Jesus can provide. The project has offered Chris many opportunities to share the Gospel. “This is a hard area spiritually speaking, and it is a harsh environment,” Chris said. “As we worked on the project, we continued to share the Gospel with the local workers and three of those professed faith in Christ. But there are just so many people here who remain in spiritual darkness.” Chris said that he is praying the well would bring glory to God and open doors for additional evangelism efforts. The Nalls are also praying that Mozambican Christians will develop a heart for the nations coming to live in their midst. The coal mining industry is bringing thousands of foreign workers to the city. In the past decade, the population of Tete has nearly doubled. The Nalls are also praying that the existing church in Mozambique will develop a vision for cross-cultural evangelism among these immigrants and temporary residents.

Two men demonstrate the use of a "tippy-tap" handwashing station.

Their ministry in Mozambique is not easy. Chris and Katie cling to God’s calling on their lives when troubles come, and discouragement is near. They recall how clear God’s call was as they prayed through possible assignments as NOBTS students. God’s call to Tete remains strong, and their burden for the people has only grown through the years. VISION MAGAZINE Winter 2020/21



FRANK COX (MDIV '80) celebrated 40 years of ministry at North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., Nov. 8. Cox was named pastor in the fall of 1980 when he was a 24-year-old recent NOBTS graduate. The church, called Pleasant Hill Baptist Church at the time, had 639 members when Cox began. Today North Metro Baptist has a membership of some 5,000. The church has baptized more than 4,500 people and given close to $12 million to missions during Cox's tenure.

GREG WILTON (MAMI ’09, THM ’11, PHD ’12) has been named the Send Relief National Director for Refugees and Immigrants. The ministry is based in Clarkston, Ga., an area which has welcomed an influx of immigrants and refugees in the past few decades.

JESSE L. NELSON (MDIV '10, DMIN '18) has been elected as President of the Evangelical Homiletics Society.

JIM RICHARDS (MDIV '88) the executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), has announced his intention to transition from leadership, effective Dec. 31, 2021. Richards has led the SBTC since its inception in 1998.


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Nelson is senior pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., and adjunct professor at The Baptist College of Florida and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a missionary and certified as a missions consultant for the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention.

LARRY JOHNSON (MDIV '15) Larry Johnson has been named the new VP of Chaplaincy Services at Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) in New Orleans. Johnson is an ordained Baptist minister with significant ministry experience in congregational and institutional settings. He also serves as pastor at Family Church NOLA in Kenner, La.

OBBIE TODD (PHD '19) published an article, “Rethinking Finney: The Two Sides of Charles Grandison Finney’s Doctrine of Atonement,” in the June 2020 Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS).



HARRY LEE ESKEW (MSM ‘60) joined the heavenly chorus on Advent Sunday, November 29, 2020. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife of 55 years, Margaret, his devoted children, Timothy and Judith, and countless family and friends whose lives he touched. Eskew was born July 2, 1936 in Spartanburg, South Carolina to Robert Lee Eskew and Edith Toccoa Callahan. He graduated from Furman University in Greenville with a B.A. in music, from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s School of Sacred Music with a Master of Sacred Music, and from Tulane with a Ph.D. in musicology under the mentorship of Gilbert Chase. Eskew taught music history and hymnology at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), where he instilled a love of all things related to hymns and hymn singing. Over an extensive career of thirty-six years, Harry always emphasized the spiritual aspects of the texts for public worship and private devotion. Within the larger context of hymnology, his specialty was shape-note singing, particularly the life and work of William Walker, compiler of the renowned "Southern Harmony." CLINTON COLGATE NICHOLS (MSM '59) Chair of the seminary's Church Music Division from 1976-1983, passed away June 22. He was 85.






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