The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has announced a new endowed chair in honor of the school’s late professor T. Vaughn Walker.
T. Vaughn Walker
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. made the announcement Feb. 2 as part of a funeral service for Walker in Alumni Memorial Chapel. The seminary, Mohler noted, will fund a teaching position as the T. Vaughn Walker Professor of Christian Ministry.
Walker, the first African-American elected to any Southern Baptist Convention seminary faculty and who taught at Southern Seminary for 33 years, died Jan. 26 at age 68. He also graduated from the seminary with a master of divinity degree in 1987.
As Mohler announced the establishment of the T. Vaughn Walker endowed chair, he addressed an auditorium filled with pastors and church leaders from around the United States and those who represent the wide influence of Walker’s life and ministry.
“We want to honor the man not only who was the first African-American to serve as a full professor at any Southern Baptist institution, but a man who served so faithfully and so well,” he said.
Mohler noted, “I also want to make clear: this is not a fundraising project of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,” he said. The seminary will fund the chair out of its endowment.
The funeral, held on campus at Southern Seminary, was organized by the Walker family and the staff of the First Gethsemane Baptist Church in Louisville, where Walker pastored from 1984 until his death. Walker began teaching at Southern Seminary in 1986 in the Carver School of Church Social Work and went on to serve in two other graduate schools of the seminary as WMU Professor of Christian Ministry until he retired in 2016. He continued to supervise doctoral students as a senior professor up through the current academic semester.
In his comments, Mohler highlighted the historical significance of the school’s naming a professorship for Walker. He pointed out that the first service held the Alumni Memorial Chapel, in November 1950, was for Ellis A. Fuller, the seminary’s sixth president. Mohler further recounted the seminary’s own founders, “who not only supported but who were themselves involved in slavery.”
“Imagine the history and imagine the rightness that a building that was first used for the funeral of a segregationist is now used for Dr. T. Vaughn Walker,” Mohler said. “And not here simply because of his stature in the community but here because he is a member of this family.”
Mohler added moments later that, “For so long as this institution exists, there will be a teacher who teaches as the T. Vaughn Walker Professor of Christian Ministry.”
In addition to his announcement, Mohler spoke about his personal relationship with Walker. He said that every time he saw Walker, the late professor greeted him by asking, “How is my president today?” Mohler noted that Walker’s unique salutation was consistent throughout their relationship.
“The moment that I had heard that [Walker] passed, I couldn’t help but hear, ‘My president’,” Mohler recalled. “So a part of my joy in this service is to say that Dr. T. Vaughn Walker was my professor and for that, I am very, very thankful.”
Mohler and the school’s administration plan to announce the professor who will hold the chair at a later date.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Aaron Cline Hanbury is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)