Nashville, Tenn. – The President’s Report, a presentation of the 2021 Alumni Distinguished Service Award, and a private concert by Nashville-based musical artist Andrew Peterson highlighted Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Alumni and Friends luncheon on June 16 at the Omni Hotel Broadway Ballroom.
Midwestern Seminary Senior Vice President of Institutional Relations Charles Smith welcomed nearly 1,000 attendees to the luncheon. Lee Roberson, chairman of the seminary’s Board of Trustees, led the gathering in prayer before Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen took the stage to deliver his President’s Report.
In the report, Allen communicated his optimism regarding this year’s annual meeting. He then shared significant news with attendees about the past two years at Midwestern Seminary, including positive news related to the growth of Spurgeon College’s undergraduate programs, updates on the seminary’s For the Church Institute online training resource, and significant additions to the seminary faculty.
Commenting on the annual meeting, Allen said, “I believe we will leave Nashville more encouraged than we originally thought. On the backside of our two-day gathering, the work that is taking place through our missions agencies and boards, the work taking place through our seminaries, and the work that we are seeing take place collectively through our Southern Baptist churches are things we can celebrate and have confidence in.”
Turning his attention to seminary-related matters, Allen provided updates on the progress of Spurgeon College’s undergraduate programs. Since its relaunch in 2018, Spurgeon College has remained vigilant in its commitment to not only train young men and women for ministry but also for the marketplace, according to Allen.
“Through our undergraduate programs, we are not just the training missionaries, pastors, counselors, and church planters,” Allen said. “We also have young men and women getting degrees in history, communications, and business, all while obtaining a double major or a minor in biblical studies and Christian ministry.
“The future for us domestically and internationally will increasingly be a future of marketplace ministries and bi-vocational service. We are grateful to God that Spurgeon College is coming into its own in this regard, aiming to equip students for what is ahead.”
Allen then delivered updates on the For the Church Institute, a free online resource produced by Midwestern Seminary providing accessible theological education for use in local churches. Allen said the resource, which includes a slate of modular courses taught by seminary faculty members, has been utilized by over 3,000 participants in the past year.
“For the Church Institute courses are packaged to be optimally used by pastors and ministry leaders without requiring extensive administration and preparation on their part,” he added.
“The Institute is us bringing our very best to local churches by way of gifted faculty members and teachers, while also bringing truths from church history, theology, local church ministry, and the Christian life to bear in a way that the average church member can follow along, learn, and grow. Plus, we cannot emphasize this enough: the curriculum is free for local church pastors, ministry leaders, and church members.”
Allen also highlighted notable new faculty hires over the past two years, recognizing Jason DeRouchie, as research professor of Old Testament and biblical theology, Geoff Chang, as professor of historical theology and director of the Spurgeon Library, Patrick Schreiner, as associate professor of New Testament and biblical theology, and the seminary’s most recent faculty addition, Joe Allen III, as assistant professor of missions.
President Allen stated the addition of Joe Allen as the seminary’s missions professor represents a “new and deeper work” God is doing within the seminary community that is marked by an increasing commitment to the Great Commission and gospel ministry among the nations.
Following his report, Allen invited Pastor Michael Catt to the platform as the recipient of Midwestern’s 2021 Alumni Distinguished Service Award.
Pastor Catt attended Midwestern Seminary in 1975 and recently retired from pastoral ministry after 32 years of service at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. Catt has also served as Executive Producer of Sherwood Films, an independent film company based in Albany that has produced major Christian motion pictures such as Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, among others.
“When I came to Midwestern Seminary nine years ago, we were reviewing the possibilities to award an Alumnus of the Year award at a gathering such as this,” Allen said. “Pastor Catt’s name was one of the first names that came to mind, but I was disappointed to find out the seminary had previously recognized him as Alumnus of the Year. However, this year, we could not let Pastor Catt’s ministry transition pass without honoring him.
“This award is given to Pastor Catt based on his many decades of faithful service to the Lord, Jesus Christ, as pastor of one of our convention’s leading churches, his stellar reputation as a man of God, and his commitment as a spiritually mature and spiritually-minded man. Pastor Catt’s impact has emanated far beyond the congregation he has pastored, and we are delighted to present him with this year’s award.”
Catt said he was honored to receive the award, though it was unexpected, and he announced a forthcoming personal donation to Midwestern Seminary’s Spurgeon Library, saying, “I did not expect this, but I am grateful for it, and I am grateful for all that God is doing at Midwestern Seminary.”
Catt indicated his intention to donate a first edition copy of Charles Spurgeon’s autobiography, along with a personally signed letter written by the famous Baptist preacher’s wife, Susannah Spurgeon.
Following the presentation of the alumni award, Nashville-based music artist Andrew Peterson took the stage, concluding the event with a private concert for the Alumni and Friends audience. The quick-witted Peterson delighted event attendees with playful banter and a setlist comprised of several of his most well-known songs, including “In the Night,” “Dancing in the Minefields,” and “Is He Worthy?”