Trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously approved the installation of Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines to a visiting professorship honoring former SBC President Herschel H. Hobbs during their meeting in Louisville, Ky., earlier this week.
The board also approved an expanded budget for the 2017-2018 academic year and elected three faculty members.
Trustees established the Herschel H. Hobbs Visiting Professor of Christian Preaching to honor the life and legacy of Hobbs, a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary. Hobbs was president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1961-1963, served as chairman of the committee that revised the Baptist Faith and Message in 1963, and pastored several Southern Baptist churches.
"One of my encouragers all along the way was Dr. Herschel Hobbs—he was so committed to this institution, so committed to Southern Baptists," Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told trustees. "Very regularly we will have a visiting professor in his name come to this campus in order to educate students and honor Dr. Hobbs."
Gaines, installed as the inaugural Hobbs professor, opened the trustees' plenary session with a devotional message. He has served as senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., since 2005 and holds Ph.D. and master of divinity degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where he wrote his dissertation on Hobbs and his preaching on "The Baptist Hour."
Trustees approved their financial board's recommendation to increase the budget to $51.6 million in 2017-2018, an increase of 7.5 percent from the current $48.04 million budget.
The board elected to the faculty, effective Aug. 1, R. Scott Connell as assistant professor of music and worship leadership at Boyce College; Brian Payne, associate professor of Christian theology, church ministry and expository preaching at Boyce; and Charles T. Lewis, assistant professor of church music and worship at Southern Seminary.
Connell, who has taught at Boyce since 2010, had 25 years of pastoral experience in local churches in numerous roles, including as a worship pastor, youth pastor and senior pastor, and had taught music in public and private education at all grade levels.
Payne, who joined the faculty of Boyce College and Southern Seminary in 2006, earned three SBTS degrees and pastored in Lebanon, Ohio, after working in the business world and attending the University of Alabama, where he also played football for four years.
Lewis formerly was worship pastor at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., and adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University before joining Southern Seminary in 2011. He currently serves as director of Doxology, Southern Seminary's vocal ensemble.
The board also recognized six outgoing trustees whose terms of service end in 2017: Schanon Caudle from Arkansas; Mike King, Tennessee; Randy Kuhn, Florida; Pusey Losch, Pennsylvania; Mike Mericle, Texas; and Archie Stephens, Arizona.
Also recognized for his trustee service was Scott Pruitt, who joined the board in 2012 when he was attorney general of Oklahoma. He has recently taken office as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the most senior posts in the Trump administration.
Trustees also noted that two board members are current presidents of their state conventions: chairman John Thweatt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pell City, Ala., president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, and Joe Ligon, pastor of First Baptist Church, Marlow, Okla., as president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Andrew J.W. Smith writes for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.