Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, posed a question at convocation, Sept. 3, to begin a new semester and a new chapter in its history.
"Where exactly are we going?" Dew, who began June 5 as the seminary's ninth president, asked the audience. "And what exactly are we going to do?"
While academic goals are important, Dew said the seminary's success must be judged by the number of students "sent out with the Gospel to a broken world" rather than by traditional academic markers such as a growing enrollment.
Dew urged the NOBTS community to see the broken world outside the seminary's gates and remember they were once broken themselves until Christ found them. Only the Gospel can restore and renew, Dew said, noting that reaching a broken world is the seminary's goal.
"The job of every believer is to take the Gospel into the darkest places on this earth ... where oppression is strong ... where there is no hope ... and shine the light of Jesus Christ and watch God unfold His Kingdom and bring hope and life to that which is dead," he said.
Dew then answered the question he posed at the beginning of his message by saying, "This is where we're going": Servanthood, devotion, Gospel proclamation and mission must define each believer's life, he explained.
"These can't be slogans. I'm not interested in 'kinda, sorta,'" he said. "What I do next, what we do next, I want it to matter for eternity."
Servanthood requires that believers fight against pride and the desire for power, fame and notoriety, Dew said. Drawing from Mark 10, he said James and John were concerned with their station in Christ's Kingdom, but that true disciples are servants.
"Our broken world awaits a people who will rise up and be about the redeeming work of Jesus Christ our King," Dew said. "If we are anything, we are servants. Let the towel and the basin define us."
Devotion to Christ above everything else is the mark of a true disciple, he said, adding that there is no life without total devotion; completing the task God gives is impossible without it.
"You need Christ," Dew said. "You need Christ now more than you have ever needed Him."
He urged students to be diligent as evangelists, reminding them that Gospel proclamation is the reason they study. Drawing from 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 20, he encouraged students to live life on mission and love the church as Christ loves His church.
Dew concluded by returning to the question he posed at the beginning.
"Where are we going?" Dew asked. "We must be a people who are servants. We must be a people who are deeply devoted to Christ. We must be a people with the Gospel on our lips. And we must be a people who give our lives to the mission of Christ."
During convocation, Dew signed the NOBTS Articles of Religious Belief and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as NOBTS president and professor of Christian philosophy, along with Charlie Ray III, assistant professor of New Testament and Greek, and Robert E. Wilson Sr., associate professor of Christian ministry in Leavell College.
Students selected by the faculty as research doctoral fellows, a merit-based scholarship that continues throughout the student's time in the program, were recognized:
Jonathan Borland, the Thomas S. and Mary Wheeler Messer Fellowship in New Testament and Greek; Jamie Klemashevich, the Lucille and Harold Harris Ph.D. Fellowship in Christian Counseling; Ron Lindo Jr., the J. Duncan Boyd III Memorial Endowed Fellowship in Old Testament Studies and Hebrew; Russell Zwerner, the Milton and Charlotte Williams Fellowship in Preaching; Bo Smith, the C.C. Randall Fellowship in Evangelism; DeAron Washington, the Charles Ray Pigott Fellowship for Minority Students; Mark Johnson, the Drs. Chuck and Rhonda Kelley Ph.D. Fellowship for African-American Students; and DeeDee Williams, the Dr. Rhonda Kelley Ph.D. Fellowship in Women's Leadership.
Faculty members marking service anniversaries were recognized:
Marilyn Stewart is assistant director of communications at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.