New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary announced the appointment of Greg Wilton as the next dean of Leavell College Nov. 12. Wilton will begin the role at Leavell College Jan. 1, 2022.
Wilton comes to Leavell College from Send Relief, where he served as national director for immigrants and refugees. During his time with Send Relief, Wilton oversaw national strategies and ministry efforts aimed at immigrant and refugee care and directed the work of Send Relief’s Clarkston Ministry Center in Clarkston, Ga. Wilton previously served as a lead pastor, a missions pastor, and an International Mission Board missionary in Southeast Asia.
Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College, pointed to Wilton’s leadership and mission focus as the primary reasons he was selected for the role. Dew believes Wilton will connect well with students and help the college grow.
“Greg Wilton is a natural leader that our students will rally around. I’m excited to have him join our team,” Dew said. “I think he is the best possible person to lead Leavell College into her next chapters of ministry.”
“His passion for missions fits well with the direction we are moving in as a school, and allows a missiological ethos to shape the entire work of Leavell College,” Dew continued. “Our students will love him, and I believe our college will thrive under his leadership."
Wilton was born in New Orleans and spent his first 11 years on the NOBTS campus while his father studied at the seminary and served on the faculty. After completing a bachelor's degree at Samford University, Wilton returned to campus as a student in 2006. He earned three degrees from NOBTS (the master of arts in missiology, the master of theology, and the doctor of philosophy). During Wilton’s time as a student in New Orleans, he pastored two different churches and served with the seminary's MissionLab program.
“This is a homecoming for me, and I'm so thankful to Dr. Dew for the privilege of joining him and the rest of the faculty and staff at NOBTS and Leavell College to prepare students to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission,” Wilton said. “I know firsthand that at NOBTS and Leavell College, to prepare here is to be able to serve anywhere.”
“I'm so excited to serve the NOBTS and Leavell College family as we send everyone everywhere to glorify King Jesus and make disciples of all nations,” he continued.
The city left an indelible mark on Wilton and taught him lessons that impacted his ministry on each step of his journey. Wilton said that he, his wife Abby, and their four children are excited about the move to campus.
“My family and I love New Orleans and NOBTS. As an alum, it's already difficult to describe how much the city and seminary have impacted me,” Wilton said. “I love its past, I'm thrilled about its present under Dr. Dew's leadership, and I'm very excited for its future.”
Dew said that role of Leavell College dean requires academic acumen along with administrative and pastoral gifts and a growing, dynamic walk with Christ.
“The Dean of College role is a difficult role to hire for,” Dew said. “A dean must have legitimate academic chops, leadership skills, passion and vision, and most importantly, must love Christ and His kingdom supremely. I’m so thankful that God has given us a person who fits this profile so perfectly well, and I can’t wait to have Greg Wilton on our team!”
In January, Wilton will begin the role and working alongside long-time Leavell College dean, Thomas Strong III, to ensure a smooth transition. In June 2022, Strong will be named vice president of spiritual formation and student services. Dew praised Strong’s steadfast leadership at Leavell College and said the new role perfectly fits his gifts.
“Dr. Strong has been an excellent dean of the college for 22 years,” Dew said. “He is a natural shepherd to students and works hard to help them succeed as students and followers of Christ. As such, I am excited to see him take the new role of vice president for spiritual formation and student services.”
Dew said the importance of training leaders for local church ministry necessitated the creation of a new position aimed at intentional spiritual formation. He said that Strong is the "perfect person" to lead this effort.
“NOBTS and Leavell College prepare servants to walk with Christ, proclaim His truth, and fulfill His mission. Central to this mission statement is spiritual formation,” Dew said. “As that task takes on greater importance within our school, I’ve felt it necessary to make adjustments to the administrative structures of the institution to ensure that spiritual formation is properly emphasized and executed.”
Strong said his 28 years of teaching New Testament and Greek at Leavell College and his 22 years as dean have been a joy.
“During these years, God has impressed upon my heart not only the importance of academics, but even more so about the importance of spiritual formation as a part of ministry preparation and life preparation,” Strong said. “This new opportunity will give me the chance to help all those at NOBTS and Leavell College ‘walk with Christ’ in an intimate and impacting manner.”
Strong believes the increased emphasis on spiritual formation will enrich the lives of students as well as the believers in the churches they will lead.
“We are definitely at a time and place when our world needs to know Christ and when those who know Christ need to be drawn closer to Him,” Strong said. “This can and should be a place and a time when lives are changed – and then in turn as each student embraces ministry opportunities, the thought of multiplying the impact is both exciting and mind boggling.”
Strong, who serves as senior pastor at Metairie Baptist Church in metro New Orleans, will also assume the dean of students role in June 2022 when Craig Garrett, the current dean of students, transitions to a leadership role in the NOBTS counseling division.
“Dr. Garrett has been a wonderful dean of students and we are deeply thankful for his faithful service. When he expressed interest in our divisional associate dean position over our counseling department we knew that he would excel in that role and provide valuable leadership to this important work,” Dew said. “We have loved having him as the DOS but are thankful we get to keep him in an important leadership role."