Billy Graham leaves behind a rich legacy not only in evangelism and American religious life, but in the history of Southern Seminary. In 1963, under the leadership of SBTS President Duke McCall, the school established the Billy Graham chair of evangelism, which became a position now held by Timothy K. Beougher. In 1993, Southern Seminary announced The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, which is the only school in the world to bear the name of America’s most famous preacher. Below, trace long shadow of Billy Graham’s influence on Southern Seminary.
Legendary evangelist Billy Graham speaks at Louisville’s Freedom Hall, Oct. 14, the eve of R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s inauguration as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. That evening, Mohler announces the founding of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth.
“In 1993 when I was elected president, Dr. Graham eagerly encouraged me and the vision that brought me to Southern Seminary by speaking at my inauguration, and by allowing us to establish the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, as it was then known. Dr. Graham was very directly involved in helping me to begin my presidency, and throughout my presidency he was an active encourager and always a partner in prayer in this task.”
— Mohler, reflecting on Billy Graham’s influence on Southern Seminary after his death, Feb. 21
Thom S. Rainer, a two-time Southern Seminary graduate and pastor in Birmingham, Alabama, is installed as the first dean of the Billy Graham School. In August of that year, the school officially opens with 33 students.
Timothy K. Beougher moves to Southern Seminary from Wheaton College to fill the newly endowed Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth.
Rainer leaves the Billy Graham School to become the president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee. Chuck Lawless, who had been serving as Rainer’s senior associate dean and associate professor of evangelism, becomes the second dean of the Billy Graham School.
“This school, the only one of its kind in the Southern Baptist Convention, will put Southern Seminary on the cutting edge and in its rightful place of leadership in this denomination on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention and of the larger evangelical world. It will offer the highest quality of preparation through programs leading to both masters and doctoral degrees, and it will call together a world-class faculty of evangelical scholars committed to taking the gospel to the whole world.”
— Mohler, at the announcement of the Billy Graham School, Oct. 1993
Zane Pratt, a veteran IMB missionary in Central Asia, becomes the third dean in the history of the Billy Graham School after Lawless assumes the role of vice president for global theological advance at the IMB.
Adam W. Greenway, who had been serving as senior associate dean, replaces Zane Pratt, who resigned as dean to become the global theological education team leader with the IMB. The school is restructured to combine the School of Church Ministries, and is renamed the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry.