Ex-Muslim Appointed New President of Baptist College

A former Sunni Muslim has been elected as the new president of Truett-McConnell College in Georgia.

Dr. Emir Caner, who was the founding dean of the College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, was voted by Truett-McConnell's board of trustees to become its eighth president on Aug. 8, according to the Cleveland, Ga.-based college.

His new appointment makes him the first former Muslim to be elected as president of a Southern Baptist college or university.

He will officially begin his duties on Aug. 18.

"It's a great day in the life of Truett-McConnell College and Georgia Baptists! The TMC Board of Trustees is extremely excited about the future of our school under the leadership of Dr. Emir Caner," said Terrell J. Williams, chairman of the Truett-McConnell Board of Trustees, in a statement.

Truett-McConnell is financially supported by the Georgia Baptist Convention, which also elects its trustees.

Caner, 37, is the son of a devout Islamic leader and most of his family, including his father, has disowned him. He converted to Christianity in 1982 with the help of a Christian friend who invited him to a prayer meeting at a Southern Baptist church.

After accepting Christ as his savior, he attended Criswell College in Dallas and earned a bachelor's degree in biblical studies. He went on to earn a master of divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Texas.

Caner has written and contributed to a total of 16 books, including Unveiling Islam, which won the Gold Medallion Award by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

"Dr. Caner is a scholar, a professor, a writer, a preacher and an experienced administrator - a powerful combination of gifts," said Dr. J. Robert White, executive director/CEO of the Georgia Baptist Convention, in a statement. "At the same time, he has a vibrant personality and is easy to know. He has a contagious warmth, is enjoyable to be with and is an excellent conversationalist."

He is the youngest president to ever lead Truett-McConnell.

His brother, Ergun Caner, who also converted to Christianity, is president and dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va. Ergun Caner was the first former Muslim to be elected president of a seminary.