By Marilyn Stewart, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley urged students and faculty to keep Scripture at the center of their lives during the Sept. 6 convocation marking the official start to a new academic year.
Drawing from the exhortation in Joshua 1:7-8 to meditate on Scripture, Kelley said, “It doesn’t matter who you are or how long you’ve walked with Jesus, it doesn’t matter how well you know the Word, if you don’t ‘keep it in your mouth,’ if you don’t keep it as the center of attention, you will not be faithful in doing what God wants you to do.”
Joshua, in following Moses as the leader of the Israelite nation, was instructed that success would come if he remained faithful in meditating on God’s law, Kelley said.
Meditation, Kelley noted, is not “emptying your mind and thinking of nothing.” Unlike the practice of Eastern religions, meditation instead means to “keep a conversation with God’s Word all the time,” Kelley said.
Many versions translate the passage as God’s law should be “always on your lips” or “shall not depart from your mouth.” Kelley explained that believers are made into Christ’s likeness when Scripture remains a key focus.
“Remember to keep the Bible ever ‘in your mouth,’ dialogue with it all the time so that God can make you the man, the woman, He wants you to be,” Kelley said.
The seminary’s first research doctoral fellows were announced by Kelley during the convocation.
Research doctoral fellows receive a merit-based scholarship that continues throughout the student’s time in the Ph.D. program.
Selected by the faculty as fellows are Jonathan Borland, the Thomas S. and Mary Wheeler Messer Fellowship in New Testament and Greek; Jamie Klemashevich, the Lucille and Harold Harris Ph.D. Fellowship in Christian Counseling; Ron Lindo Jr., the J. Duncan Boyd III Memorial Endowed Fellowship in Old Testament Studies and Hebrew; Jieun Yun, the Lallage Feazel Fellowship in Instrumental Music; and Russell Zwerner, the Milton and Charlotte Williams Fellowship in Preaching.
During a time of recognizing faculty anniversaries, NOVBT provost Norris Grubbs congratulated Kelley for 35 years as professor of evangelism. Kelley was serving on faculty when elected as the seminary’s president in 1996.
Grubbs noted Kelley’s accomplishments, including his recent book on evangelism, “Fuel the Fire,” released by B&H Academic this year. In his remarks, Grubbs referenced the story of Kelley’s hesitancy to accept a faculty position, intending instead to invest his life in evangelistic service.
“Even though it wasn’t necessarily what you had planned, God had plans for you here, we are better for it,” Grubbs said. “It’s hard to imagine what the history of NOBTS would have been like without you. We are certainly grateful for your influence and what you’ve done here.”
Other faculty anniversaries were:
— 30 years of service: Gerald Stevens, distinguished professor of New Testament and Greek.
— 25 years: Harold Mosley, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Thomas Strong, professor of New Testament and Greek in the seminary’s Leavell College; and Ken Taylor, professor of urban missions.
— 20 years: Eddie Campbell, professor of English, Leavell College; Loretta Rivers, professor of social work; and Robert Stewart, professor of philosophy and theology.
— 15 years were Reggie Ogea, professor of leadership and pastoral ministry; Jeff Riley, professor of ethics; and Ed Steele, professor of music, Leavell College.
-– 10 years: Jim Parker, professor of biblical interpretation, and Sandra Vandercook, professor of English and education, Leavell College.