In 1992, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary was in trouble. Facing an enrollment of fewer than 600 students and problems with accrediting agencies, “many were predicting our seminary would not survive,” said Danny Akin during his report to messengers June 20 of the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in New Orleans.
Akin, president of Southeastern, described what has happened since that time as a “20-year miracle story.”
“God has blessed us in incredible ways. On the campus there is the sweetest spirit because there’s a great love for the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Akin, who was elected just before his report to bring the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting sermon in 2013.
Nearly 3,000 students are now enrolled in Southeastern and graduates are serving all over the world. “God is raising up more missionaries than ever before, and more church planters to underserved areas,” Akin said. “Southeastern is a Great Commission seminary. We try to wear it on our sleeve. It’s embedded in our mission statement.”
Photo by Jeremy Scott
Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., gives a report June 20 during the last session of the two-day Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Several commitments, such as a passion for expository preaching, undergird the seminary’s devotion to sending out Great Commission graduates who will start and build up Great Commission churches. Akin acknowledged that although tensions exist when preaching scripture, regarding God’s sovereignty and human free will, Southeastern is passionate about getting the gospel to those who need to hear it.
“We know anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” he said. “But they won’t be saved unless they hear the gospel. Our mission is to send people to the ends of the earth to share the gospel.”
To help equip students for ministry Southeastern offers training in many different areas, such as biblical counseling, which students now have more opportunities to study at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
Another unique endeavor is Equip, which seeks to provide students training and practical experience in a local church before they graduate.
“We believe the best theological education takes place in a partnership between a seminary and the local church. There are some things that can only be learned in the laboratory of a local church,” Akin said.
Through Equip, students are mentored by local church leaders, complete internships at local churches and participate in supervised field ministry courses. About 70 churches partner with the seminary through Equip, and Akin is praying for that number to reach 300 by 2015.
Akin also asked messengers to pray for 10 Southeastern students serving on a short-term mission trip in Sudan. Two years ago Akin and his wife also served in Sudan. Although Sudan is not an easy place to serve, the students “believe putting your life on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ is worth it,” Akin said.
Akin also spoke of Southeastern’s commitment to the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Southeastern loves the SBC,” he said. “We’re honored to serve the members of the SBC. We are accountable to you, and we take that very seriously and very gladly.”