In their spring meeting April 19, trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) unanimously approved a $48.1 million operating budget for 2021-22 and celebrated God’s mercy in enabling the school to flourish despite the challenges of the past year.
The new budget represents a $10.9 million increase from the budget trustees approved for the 2020-21 fiscal year. During the 2020-21 school year, the seminary has witnessed record levels of giving, a record number of donors and record enrollment.
“When you look at Southern Seminary and Boyce College and understand where we are, it’s by God’s grace,” said President Albert Mohler.
“When I look out the window of my office that has that beautiful central view of campus and see all those young people on the lawn and all the strollers they’re pushing along … how could you not consider this the greatest thing on earth? But, of course, there is one supremely greater thing, and that’s the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a means, not an end. It’s a glorious means because the end is so infinitely glorious.”
Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., and chairman of the trustee board, was deeply encouraged to see Southern’s strength in light of the pandemic.
“In my estimation, Southern has come out of the past year stronger than ever,” Pressley said. “There seems to be a real desire to see the school continue to flourish. The board was happy to be together, and it felt good to hear such great reports. Financially, the school is as strong as ever, maybe even stronger.”
Southern and Boyce will keep tuition at current levels after cutting it by 15% last year, which not only stabilized student enrollment, but even increased it.
Mohler illustrated the need for continuing faithfulness by pointing to the great reformer Martin Luther who, 500 years ago April 18, stood courageously for gospel truth at the Diet of Worms in Germany and launched the Protestant Reformation.
“Luther famously said, ‘Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me,’” Mohler said. “It’s going to take that same resolve 500 years later to see this work safely done. We are inheritors of those who’ve entrusted this to us. May we be found good stewards.”
In his report to trustees, Mohler also announced the impending retirement of R. Craig Parker, the seminary’s senior vice president for institutional administration. Parker, Mohler said, has served sacrificially, faithfully, graciously and effectively as one of the seminary’s two senior vice presidents.
“Craig Parker has made an incalculable contribution to Southern Seminary, and his service to this institution, especially during the season of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been nothing less than remarkable,” Mohler said.
Parker will continue to serve through the academic year. Mohler told trustees that a transition plan for that position has been developed and further announcements would be forthcoming.
In other business, trustees:
- Approved promotions for six faculty members: Bryan Baise from assistant professor to associate professor of philosophy and apologetics at Boyce College; David Bosch from associate professor to professor of business administration at Boyce College; Ayman Ibrahim from associate professor to professor of Islamic studies; Oren Martin from assistant professor to associate professor of Christian theology; Jeremy Pierre from associate professor to professor of biblical counseling; Michael Pohlman from assistant professor to associate professor of Christian preaching. All promotions are effective August 1.
- Approved sabbaticals during the upcoming school year for William Cook, Michael Haykin, Dominick Hernández, Ayman Ibrahim, Barry Joslin, Denny Burk and Oren Martin.
- Voted to close the seminary’s extension center in Northborough, Mass. The center has served Southern since the 1993-94 academic year, but with the rise of online education, the center is no longer necessary. All students currently pursuing degrees there will be able to complete their coursework online. “The online revolution has made the center less relevant,” Mohler said.
- Filled two trustee board vacancies with interim trustees who will serve until the SBC annual meeting in June – Robert Pochek, two-time graduate of SBTS and pastor of First Baptist Church of Park Street in Charlottesville, Va., which was pastored by John Broadus and was the sending church of Lottie Moon; and William Behrens, lay elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and head of federal government affairs and policy for General Electric, previously special assistant to President George W. Bush.
- Honored outgoing trustees Ed Hayes, John Montgomery and Nina Wilson, each of whom served on the board for more than a decade.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)