The first day of the Fall meeting of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees is in the books. It was a long, full day, which ended about 8:30 last night with a powerful musical worship service in beautiful Leavell Chapel.
The day began with breakfast at 7:00 and an opportunity to visit informally with our fellow trustees before the pace quickened. Building and Grounds Committee had their meeting from 8:30 till 10:30, which gave each of the rest of us a couple of hours of free time. I used mine to do an hour's work on Sunday morning's message, and another hour visiting with students and a staff member or two in the Hardin Student Center and browsing the adjacent LifeWay Christian Store. I also had opportunity to visit briefly with Robby Pearson, who now works in the Registrar's Office. Robby was one of the Preachers who went with us to the Philippies this past May. Robby is a great guy and it was sure good to see him again.
Chapel Service began at 11:00 AM with a great time of worship led by a student musical group which included Daniel Savage. Daniel is the Worship Pastor at my son, Jay's, First Baptist Church of Westwego. I also had the privilege to have Daniel as a member of our Philippine Mission Team this past May. He is a multi-talented and spiritually gifted young man. Dr. Searcy, a professor who had just returned from a mission trip to Nepal, shared a word about what God is doing in that formerly "closed" country and led us in a time of prayer. Dr. Chuck Kelley was his usual upbeat self, welcoming the Trustees to the Chapel Service, and casting the vision of the "School of Providence and Prayer" before the students and faculty assembled in the beautiful chapel.
Dr. Preston Nix, Professor of Evangelism and Preaching, brought a stirring message on our need for Revival - personally and corporately. Dr. Nix is a great preacher, who came to NOBTS after years in the Pastorate. His story is a touching one, as he and his family moved onto the campus of NOBTS in mid August, 2005 - just two weeks before Katrina and the resulting broken levee on the nearby Industrial Canal inundated the Gentilly area. The entire personal library which he had acquired over 30 + years in the ministry was still packed in cartons which were stacked in his garage. Since he had not had time to move them to his office, they were all lost when the flood waters engulfed the faculty housing area on Seminary Place. Along with his library, Dr. and Mrs. Nix lost most all of their personal belongings and had to start all over again in an unfamiliar place, among colleagues that they barely knew. Preston Nix is only one member of a dedicated faculty that accomplished a world class feat in getting the instructional mission of NOBTS back on track in almost no time, when other colleges and universities in the New Orleans area simply went out of business for nearly a year. All of their accomplishments came in the face of catastrophe and massive personal loss. These folks are heroes.
The Seminary provided free lunch for the Trustees and the entire Seminary Family in the beautiful and spacious cafeteria on campus. The meal had a genuine New Orleans flavor as the menu consisted of Red Beans and Rice, Sausage, Fried Okra and cornbread. The "family" lunch gives an informal setting for Trustees to mingle and eat with students, faculty members and staff people. The large round table where I sat accommodated a professor, Dr. Carter, a lady (whose name I'm afraid I have forgotten) who works in one of the offices, four students and fellow Trustee, Marvin Rose. Three of the young people, Amanda Lindsay, Bryan Scholl, and Bobby Wood are all members of Jay's church in Westwego. Bryan and Bobby are on staff there, as Student Pastor and Education Pastor, respectively. Amanda and Bobby were also part of our
May, 2008 mission team to the Philippines. It was great to visit with them again.
I mentioned that Marvin Rose was at the table. Marvin is Pastor of Baker Road Baptist Church of Baytown, Texas, and he and I were elected to the Board of Trustees the same year. The last four months have been a time of terrible trial for Marvin, his family, and his church. Just after I had seen Marvin in June at the SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, we got word that his mother perished in a house fire at her home in Virginia. Then, just a few weeks ago, Hurricane Ike came ashore with Galveston and Baytown sitting at ground zero, destroying the Sanctuary of First Baptist Church and leaving heavy damage to Marvin's home. While thankful for the personal safety of their family and congregation, Marvin is facing a long and difficult task of recovery. Please pray for the Rose Family and the congregation of FBC Baytown.
At 1:30 PM my committee (Instruction) had it's two hour meeting. We received an update from Dr. Kelley, and Provost, Dr. Steve Lemke, on enrollment figures, degree and certificate programs. We were also updated on some faculty vacancies and heard reports on a few Presidential Faculty appointments that Dr. Kelley has made in the interim. These will be probably be brought to us for official faculty election at our Spring Meeting in April. Dr. Kelley advised us that the production and the professional level of their performance has been excellent this semester, although made more difficult by the Hurricane Gustav evacuation, and the preparations for a second possible evacuation a couple of weeks later as Hurricane Ike roared into the Gulf Coast. Fortunately for the folks in the New Orleans area (and to the dismay of the residents of the Texas Gulf Coast) Ike turned west and spared the Crescent City.
After the Instructional Committee meeting, I had time to meet with Bryan Scholl (pictured here)for a meeting to discuss a one week mission trip he is planning for next summer. Bryan wants to bring a group of 12 youth and 3 adults to the Huntington - Tri State area the week of July 20th. Bryan had the opportunity to come to Huntington with World Changers several years ago, and he looks forward to bringing his youth to our area for a week of ministry experience. I have already spoken with our Student Pastor, Rick Weber, who is excited about the opportunity for our youth group to host, and work with the Louisiana group next summer. This will be a special time, since our young people were hosted by Bryan and his church on their mission trip to New Orleans two summers ago. We are planning a number of joint projects which will include Back Yard Bible Clubs, neighborhood canvassing, light labor projects, a project with the City Mission, and a possible Block Party.
A few of the Trustees were accompanied by their wives, and we all met for fellowship and dinner at 6:00 PM. The folks I shared a table with included Trustees from Tennessee, Indiana, South Carolina, Illinois, and New York. We were also blessed to have Dr. Kelley at our table. His wife, Dr. Rhonda Kelley, was unable to attend as she was attending to a minor medical need for Dr. Kelley's elderly mother.
This morning the Investment Committee and Executive Committee meet after breakfast, and we will all join together for our three joint Plenary Sessions beginning just after lunch. These are the sessions where each committee gives their individual reports and all business is taken care of by the full Board of Trustees. Plenary Sessions 1 & 2 will take up the full afternoon. We'll break for dinner at 6:00 PM and then reassemble for Session 3 about 7:00 PM. It will be a full afternoon and evening.
Since I have the morning free, I will be attending a Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans Pastor's Meeting with Jay at the BAGNO offices on Lakeshore Drive, overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. These Pastor Meetings were begun by BAGNO Director of Missions, Joe McKeever, three years ago as an outgrowth of the Katrina disaster. Joe says these meetings have gone a long way toward uniting the New Orleans area pastors and building fellowship among them and their churches.
Should be a full, and hopefully productive day.
I have also told Jay that I'll buy lunch today - as long as we can either get one of those delicious burgers at "Port of Call" on Esplanade, or a Po Boy at "Sammie's" on Elysian Fields.
Have I ever mentioned that they have some pretty good food down here?