on Friday, April 16, 2021

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved a new church planting degree and three new Leavell College majors during their spring meeting April 12-13.

The trustees also elected three new faculty members and approved a $21.8 million budget for the 2021-22 academic year in the meeting.

“We are so incredibly grateful that we were able to meet face-to-face with our trustees once again this week,” said Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College. “God has provided for us in every possible way through this difficult season, and his favor was once again evident with us during our trustee meetings. Our trustees are deeply engaged in the work of our seminary and their help is of great importance to us.”

The board approved a new master of arts in church planting degree designed to prepare individuals for a church planting ministry in North America. The new degree, coupled with the new North American Mission Board Church Planting Center at NOBTS, will provide an immediate boost to church planting and mission efforts in New Orleans and will resonate well beyond the city as church planters are trained and sent out to serve throughout North America.

“This is a perfect time to launch the MA in Church Planting at NOBTS,” said Norris Grubbs, NOBTS provost. “With the new NAMB center on campus, students will be able to learn and experiment as they are trained in the principles of Church Planting.”

Trustees affirmed Dew’s vision to enhance and expand Leavell College’s efforts to serve traditional college-aged students by approving three new majors in the bachelor of arts degree program. With new majors – intercultural studies, ministry to women, and theology – Leavell College now offers ten bachelor of arts degree majors.

“We are excited about the continued expansion of majors in Leavell College,” said Thomas Strong, dean of Leavell College. “Each new major provides the opportunity to prepare servants to fulfill God’s mission through one’s life.”

Trustees approved an online initiative designed to expand the availability of the Spanish bachelor of arts degree. Leavell College has offered an in-person Spanish undergraduate program for many years. The new live-taught classes will be available via video conferencing software in “real time” and are available to students regardless of location.

“I'm so glad we are going to be able to offer the bachelor of arts in Christian ministry in Spanish online,” Grubbs said. “These classes will be offered in a remote format, and we hope to equip Spanish-speaking students all across the country to serve the church.”

The board voted to elect Cory Barnes, Ethan Jones, and Chris Shaffer to the faculty.

Cory Barnes, a Shorter University faculty member and administrator since 2017, was elected as associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew. In addition to his role on the faculty, Barnes will serve as the associate vice president of distance learning. At Shorter, Barnes served as the School of Christian Studies chair from 2017 to 2019 and currently serves as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“Dr. Barnes is a perfect fit for our faculty and for our distance education strategy. His administrative abilities and entrepreneurial mind will help us strategize to offer great theological education for students all over the US and around the world,” Dew said. “In addition, he is a student favorite in the classroom and will be warmly welcomed by our faculty and students.”

Barnes earned his undergraduate degree from Shorter University and three degrees – master of arts, master of theology, and doctor of philosophy – from NOBTS. He is the co-author of Kingdom Students: Skills to Succeed in Education and Life with NOBTS Provost Norris Grubbs.

Ethan Jones was elected as associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at NOBTS. He comes to NOBTS from Scarborough College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he served as assistant professor of Old Testament. Jones also served as chair of Scarborough’s biblical studies division. A graduate of Mississippi College and Southwestern Seminary (MDiv and PhD), Jones was a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge.

“We are thrilled to add Dr. Jones to our faculty,” Dew said. “His expertise and scholarly contribution will be a welcomed addition to our faculty and will be a great delight to our students interested in Old Testament and Hebrew. Ethan is exactly the kind of faculty member we want here at NOBTS and Leavell College.”

In his discussion about Jones, Dew commended the scholarship taking place at SBC seminaries.

“Southern Baptists should be happy to know that their seminaries are producing exceptional faculty members in their PhD programs,” Dew said. “In two of the last three hires, while we received resumes from the best schools in the world (Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Notre Dame, and many others), the best candidates have come from our sister seminaries.”

Dew cited the election of Ethan Jones this spring and Alan Bandy’s election in 2020 as examples. When Jones was elected, the top two candidates were PhD graduates of Southwestern Seminary and in the search that led to Bandy’s election, the the top two candidates were Southeastern Seminary PhD graduates.

“Be encouraged Southern Baptists, your seminaries are producing fantastic scholars,” Dew said.

The board elected Chris Shaffer as assistant professor of theology in Leavell College. A graduate of Florida State University and NOBTS (MDiv, ThM, and PhD), Shaffer serves as the associate vice president of institutional strategy at NOBTS.

“Dr. Shaffer is an essential part of the administrative team at NOBTS and is beloved by the students of Leavell College,” Dew said. “His love for our school and city and his servant disposition make him a tremendously valuable asset to our school. He is an exciting addition to our College faculty and will make a huge impact on our students for years to come.”

In addition to the new faculty elections, the board elected Dennis Cole as professor emeritus of Old Testament and archaeology to honor his 35-year teaching tenure at the school. In addition to teaching, Cole served as chair of the biblical studies division for many years and currently serves as co-director of the Center for Archaeological Research at NOBTS.

“Dr. Cole has been a faithful faculty member at NOBTS and a trusted friend to everyone within our community. Even better, his kind spirit and humor make him one of the most likable people you’ll ever know. I’m grateful for his ministry to our students and am delighted to see him assume the role of Professor Emeritus.”

In other action, the trustees granted tenure to Brook Osborne and promoted her to associate professor of psychology and counseling in Leavell College. The board also approved tenure for David Odom, associate professor of student ministry.