Southwestern Trustees Add 17 New Members to its Faculty

Trustees from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) last week elected 17 new faculty members and designated a name for the seminary's new School of Evangelism and Missions.

The 17 newly added faculty members will serve in all six of the seminary's schools, three of them to serve as deans for the seminary's undergraduate college, the School of Evangelism and Missions, and the School of Church Music.

Emir F. Caner, 38, former Muslim whose family emigrated from Turkey, is elected the first dean of the seminary’s new undergraduate college, The College at Southwestern. He will also serve as professor of church history. Caner presently serves as associate dean of the College at Wake Forest, the undergraduate institution of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Keith Eitel, 50, was elected dean of the recently established Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. Presently serving as professor of missions at Southeastern Seminary, he will also serve as professor of missions at SWBTS.

Stephen P. Johnson, 29, was elected dean and associate professor of music in the seminary's School of Church Music. The new dean previously served as assistant professor of composition at the Master's College in Santa Clara, Calif.

According to the SWBTS’ news release, the diverse selection of the new faculty follows the seminary’s trend of appointing professors with international perspective. Among the elected are a Turkish-American church historian, a native of El Salvador, an immigrant from India, two professors from Germany, and a professor of education who is a native of South Korea.

The name given to the seminary’s new School of Evangelism and Missions is the "Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions" in honor of the Southwestern faculty member and evangelist, Roy Fish.

Trustee Ted Stone (N.C.), who brought the motion, described Fish as "humble and self-effacing."

"I know in my heart that more foreign missionaries, home missionaries, more educators, and more pastors have sat at the feet of Roy Fish than any other professor. He is sending out students who have a lasting burden for lost people."

"The motion I have made is not to name a building. It is to name a school and its programs. I know Roy Fish has fanned the flame of evangelism in the hearts of thousands and thousands and they have gone out and won millions for Jesus Christ," Stone said. "Some people say that evangelism has died. I can tell you it has not died in the heart of Roy Fish."

"I don’t know of another time when three deans have been elected in a single day," Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson said. Trustee Matthew McKellar (At Large) also said that he was unaware of any event in the history of the seminary where so many faculty members were elected at one time.

The remainder of the new faculty members will fill posts at the seminary’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus, at the Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston, and in The College at Southwestern.

"You have the faculty in place that the seminary will need for the future," Patterson said. "They are a unique group, a group of scholars committed to writing on two different levels – for the academy and for the local church."

President Paige Patterson reported on the health of the institution in his semiannual report to the trustees. He said the spiritual nurture of the students at the seminary was progressing.

"Spiritual nurture is an area where you are never fully satisfied, but students are in high gear," Patterson said. "On the whole you will find them an excited group, ready to go on mission for the Lord."