Southern Seminary community remembers Draper at memorial

Southern Seminary community remembers Draper at memorial

Hundreds gathered in the Alumni Memorial Chapel on Wednesday, June 28, to remember and honor Charles W. Draper, a professor of Boyce College and chair of the school’s department of biblical studies, who died from a heart attack during the early hours of Sunday, June 25. He was 70.

Draper was a highly accomplished scholar and teacher, particularly in the realm of biblical studies and textual criticism. But those who knew him best say he was in his element in private conversations with students, encouraging and challenging them to grow both inside and outside the classroom.

“Professor Charlie Draper was a cherished member of the Boyce College and Southern Seminary faculty, and he will be greatly missed,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College.

For more than 50 years, Draper taught the Bible in numerous contexts — pastoring churches from Florida to Hawaii for more than 20 years, speaking in five different countries, and teaching at the college level. He was also the general editor of the bestselling Bible reference book, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

Draper was a founding professor of Boyce College in 1998, when the school relaunched as the fully accredited James P. Boyce College of the Bible, replacing the non degree-granting Boyce Bible School. From that time, Draper served as associate professor of biblical studies before becoming chair of the department of biblical studies in 2013.

Draper was born in Jacksonville, Texas, on May 25, 1947.

His older brother, Jimmy, was a major figure in the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s and 1990s, serving as SBC president from 1982 to 1983 and then as president of LifeWay Christian Resources from 1991 to 2006. Draper was ordained as a minister in Warren, Arkansas, in 1964, and took his first pastorate at age 17.

Draper left behind his wife of 48 years, Retta, who is also a long-time employee of Southern Seminary; his children, Shelly Hardin and David Draper; and his six grandchildren. He was a member of the East campus of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

— SBTS Communications


Three professors sign Abstract of Principles, five faculty members introduced

Three professors elected to the faculty during the spring trustee meeting signed the Abstract of Principles, during convocation ceremonies, August 29. The Abstract is the seminary’s confession of faith.

Signing the historic document were R. Scott Connell, associate professor of music and worship leadership at Boyce College; Charles T. Lewis Jr., associate professor of church music and worship at Southern Seminary; and Brian K. Payne, associate professor of Christian theology and expository preaching at Boyce, became signees No. 258, 259, and 260 of the Abstract.

— SBTS Communications


Wilsey, Wittman to join Southern Seminary faculty

John David Wilsey
A renowned church historian with expertise in foundational American ideas and a medieval theology scholar will be joining the faculty at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. John David Wilsey and Tyler R. Wittman will begin their professorships in the fall semester.

Wilsey, who has worked as an educator and pastor since 1992, will serve as associate professor of church history. Princeton University recently announced Wilsey as the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life for 2017-18, during which he will conduct research for a new biography of John Foster Dulles for Eerdmans’ Library of Religious Biography series.

“John Wilsey is a wonderful scholar of American Christianity,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr. “John Wilsey’s expertise, especially in issues of church and state and religious liberty in the United States, and his concern for accuracy and appreciation in terms of history, all of these are great gifts that he brings to this new position at Southern Seminary.”

Tyler R. Wittman
Wittman is returning to Southern as assistant professor of Christian theology, having recently completed his Ph.D. in Divinity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He previously earned his M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from SBTS.

“Tyler Wittman is an outstanding young theologian,” Mohler said. “He served in times pasts as one of my interns. I’m now old enough to be able to hire professors that I knew as college students, and we really look forward to Tyler Wittman joining Southern Seminary’s theology faculty.”

— Zachary Ball


Trustees install Gaines to visiting professorship, elect three faculty at spring meeting

Trustees of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously approved all recommendations in the board’s April 10 meeting, including the installation of Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines to a visiting professorship honoring former SBC President Herschel H. Hobbs.
The board also approved an expanded budget for the 2017-2018 academic year and elected three faculty members.

The 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 the 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 SBC 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,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. to trustees during the meeting.

Gaines, installed as the inaugural Herschel H. Hobbs Visiting Professor of Christian Preaching, has served as the senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, since 2005.

The board approved the Financial Board’s recommendation to increase the budget from $48.04 million the previous academic year to $51.6 million in 2017-2018, an increase of 7.5 percent.

The board also elected to the faculty R. Scott Connell, assistant professor of music and worship leadership at Boyce College; Brian K. Payne, associate professor of Christian theology and church ministry and expository preaching at Boyce; and Charles T. Lewis, assistant professor of church music and worship at Southern Seminary. These elections will go into effect Aug. 1.

— Andrew J.W. Smith