Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Morning In New Orleans

Our flights were good yesterday. Good flights are determined by good landings, and (as we use to say in the Air Force) a good landing is anything you can walk away from! New Orleans was hot, overcast, and HUMID when we arrived at Louis Armstrong International Airport at 10:30 AM.

I won't go into the story in detail here, but I had a humiliating experience when we picked up our rental car from Budget. For a guy who drives a 2001 Ford Taurus, it is a humbling experience when he tries to start a brand new Chrysler 300 and can't figure out how the key (which is not really a key) works in the ignition! At any rate a cleanup guy named Fred, showed me how the thing worked and we were on our way. I guess I am going to have to read the owner's manual to figure how to put gas in the vehicle when we return it. I found the place where you put the gas in, but for the life of me, cannot figure how to open it! I am such a bozo...

Anyhow, we met Jay and family at Port of Call for lunch. It is one of my favorite places for lunch in the Big Easy. It is in an ancient building on the corner of Esplanade and Dauphine streets, on the back side of the French Quarter. Port of Call opens for lunch at 11:00 (or at least that's what the sign says). Sometimes it takes the staff a little longer to clean up after the previous evening's activities. It's kind of dark in the place and Linda wasn't too crazy about the smell (smells kind of like disinfectant shortly after opening time) but the hamburgers and baked potatoes are like heaven on earth.

We left the family after lunch and headed for the Seminary Guest House for check in. After unpacking and a short nap (we got up at 4:30 yesterday) we headed across the river to Jay's house on the West Bank. Had a wonderful visit with the family. Linda brought marshmallow guns for Quint and Canon and, needless to say, they loved 'em. Jay grilled chicken breasts and some fresh redfish (caught Friday by Lenny Crespo) and Michelle fixed enough delicious mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn, mixed veggies, green beans, hot rolls and desserts to feed a small church congregation.

Joining us for dinner at Jay's were his Christian Ed Pastor, Bobby Wood and wife, Lindsay, and Worship Pastor, Daniel Savage and his fiance' Janna Johnston. Jay, Bobby, Daniel, and Janna were all part of our May 2008 Philippine Mission Team, and it was good to be together with them again. Bobby was pressing me to go again as he and Lindsay would both like to make the trip. Hopefully, he and Jay and some of the others will continue our mission work there. As of now, I am content to work on this end to try to drum up support for Pastors Valdez and Zerna and their church planting efforts on Negros Island.

Today will begin two days of trustee meetings here on campus. There is chapel at 11:00 and the Building and Grounds and Financial and Investments sub committees will meet this morning. The Instructional Sub Committee (of which I am a member) will meet at 3:00 PM today. This morning I will be attending chapel service and will have lunch with Bryan Scholl. Bryan is the Student Ministry Pastor at First Baptist Church of Westwego and he will be bringing a group of his youth to West Virginia for a one week mission trip in July. Our youth group will be working with the Westwego students on several projects in Huntington, including work at the Huntington City Mission.

This Trustee meeting proves to be quite lengthy and challenging. The April meeting is the one in which we deal with the majority of faculty and academic issues. Our Instructional Committee will be dealing with recommendations for faculty issues such as rank promotions, tenuer consideration, and sabbaticals. Due to the hiring freeze, there will be no new faculty to elect on this meeting. We will receive reports from the administration on enrollment, special programs, and budget changes. We will also consider recommendations on the following curricular issues such as possible changes in degrees or certificates, and new extension centers.

The other two subcommittees will also be facing many challenges. The Investments Committee particularly faces some major difficulties due to the recent nosedive in the financial markets. The financial downturn as well as lower church giving to the Cooperative Program has had an adverse effect on the finances of this, and the other five Southern Baptist Theological Seminaries.

In the Plenary Sessions tomorrow, the full Board of Trustees will meet to take official actions on the recommendations of each committee. We will also do the annual evaluation on the Seminary President, Dr. Chuck Kelley.

It will be a busy two days. Tuesday evening we will have a dinner with the faculty members and their spouses and on Wednesday we will close our meetings with a dinner for the Trustees and spouses, with another Plenary Session to follow the dinner (if needed). Dr. Kelley's wife, Dr. Rhonda Kelley, has a full day planned for the Trustees wives on Wednesday.

I am thankful for the opportunity to serve our Lord and this convention in this small way. It is a privilege to represent the members of our 43,000 Southern Baptist Churches as a Trustee of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a responsibility that I do not take lightly.

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