By Marilyn Stewart
NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley posed an important question to students and faculty gathered for convocation Sept. 13. “Where do people hear you talk about Jesus?” he asked.
Drawing from Philippians 1:12, Kelley pointed to the apostle Paul as a “master of Gospel conversations” who talked about Jesus “always, and in all places.” Holding up him as the example to follow, Kelley said Paul talked to others about Christ wherever he was—even in prison.
“Where do people hear you talk about Jesus?” Kelley asked. “Is it in the grocery store? Is it over coffee or in any other casual settings?”
Kelley acknowledged that students came to seminary to learn to preach and expound God’s word, but cautioned them that preaching alone was not enough, adding that a strategy for reaching those outside the church walls was necessary.
“How can you mobilize your congregation to talk about Christ in their homes, at work, and with their friends?” Kelley asked. “By letting them see you talk about Jesus everywhere and at any time.”
Kelley concluded by saying that his prayer this year is that the seminary would be a place that encourages and celebrates Gospel conversations.
“Start conversations about Jesus,” Kelley said. “And see what God does.”
Kelley recognized six faculty members for their years of service during convocation – the event that marks the start of the academic year.
Dennis Cole, professor of Old Testament and archaeology, was honored for 30 years of service. Celebrated for 25 years of service was Charlie Ray, professor of New Testament and Greek.
Noted for 20 years of service were Jerry Barlow, professor of preaching and pastoral work, and Michael Sharp, professor of worship ministries. For 15 years of service, William Day, professor of evangelism and church health, and Archie England, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew were recognized.
New faculty members signed the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and continued the tradition of signing the NOBTS Articles of Religious Belief, a document drafted by the NOBTS faculty soon after the school’s founding nearly 100 years ago and prior to the development of the first Baptist Faith and Message in 1925.
Signing the documents were Jeffrey Farmer, associate professor of church ministry and evangelism in NOBTS’ Leavell College; Beth Masters, assistant professor of collegiate ministry, ministry-based faculty; Karla McGehee, instructor of Christian education, Leavell College; David Odom, associate professor of student ministry; and Brooke Osborn, assistant professor of psychology and counseling, Leavell College.
Provost Steve Lemke noted that Joe Sherrer, a former fulltime faculty member now serving as ministry-based faculty, marked 15 years and Jeanine Bozeman, senior professor, marked 30 years on faculty.