Every challenge in a Christian’s life must be met with God-honoring resolve. During this past year we’ve faced our share of challenges in sustaining Southern’s mission, but we’ve remained faithful, steadfast, and engaged in our calling. What is that calling? To equip the students whom God entrusts to us to be biblically faithful pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders both at home and abroad.
Every organization has a bottom-line objective it pursues each year. For some it’s growing profits and maximizing shareholder wealth; for others it’s invention and the development of new technology or a better way. Here at Southern Seminary, graduates are our bottom line. Indeed, we believe the world needs our graduates—eager students trained by our devoted faculty in unchanging truth that pours out of an ancient book authored by God. We truly believe what we sing in our seminary hymn at each commencement:
Soldiers of Christ, in truth arrayed, A world in ruins needs your aid: A world by sin destroyed and dead; A world for which the Savior bled.
In the economic uncertainty of the past year, we were resolved to guard against a reduction in the pipeline of gospel ambassadors being sent out to advance the cause of Christ. So determined were we to sustain graduate numbers that we implemented a 15 percent tuition reduction for the 2020-21 academic year to help our students stay the course and progress in their training in a lean economy. This resulted in commencement exercises in which we celebrated the sending out of 829 graduates.
It’s hard to imagine an institution reducing its revenue not suffering fiscal harm as a result. But we have a story we are eager to tell, one of God’s provision and protection during these uncertain days. It’s true that we committed ourselves to extreme fiscal discipline and a reduction of operating expenses, but that wasn’t enough to carry us through the last year.
Truth is, we needed students—and God sent them in record numbers. Over the past academic year, we enrolled more students and sold more class hours than in any previous year in SBTS history.
Truth is, we needed Southern Baptists to continue to support us through generous Cooperative Program giving—and they did. We marvel at the sustained faithfulness of Southern Baptists who have helped us keep tuition rates affordable.
Truth is, we needed the long-standing patrons of Southern Seminary to stand in the gap and help us undergird our students financially—and they were more than generous. With their support we’ve sustained enrollment and graduated the students God has called to ministry in local churches and mission fields around the world.