FORT WORTH, Texas – Four Southern Baptist Convention entity heads charged Adam W. Greenway to remain committed to a high view of Scripture, confessional fidelity, the Great Commission and cooperation during Greenway’s inauguration as the ninth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Oct. 21.
The above four elements represented the four pegs of Greenway’s vision for SWBTS as the “big-tent” seminary of the SBC. Greenway was elected the seminary’s ninth president earlier this year.
Attendees included other SBC entity heads, representatives of more than a dozen seminaries and universities, and various state Baptist convention leaders. Three individuals shared greetings, including SBC President J.D. Greear, senior pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area.
O.S. Hawkins, president and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources, delivered the first charge, exhorting Greenway to recognize his stewardship of SWBTS as “a sacred trust.” The institution beloved by many, he said, has stood on the Word of God for more than 100 years.
“We look back tonight at the great and rich heritage we have of sending those multiplied thousands of people out with no doubts about the Word of God,” Hawkins said. “And we look forward to a bright future of once again seeing this faculty and those who will come to join it train future generations to do the same thing.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, noted the responsibility of all seminary presidents to remain faithful to their institutions’ statements of faith – in the case of Southern Baptists, the Baptist Faith and Message.
“On behalf of Southern Baptists, you have to do this for the rest of your life,” Mohler said to Greenway. “This is a life sentence to maintain the pattern of sound words, until one day, each in our own time, we each lay that burden down; and if we do our task well, and have handed on that pattern securely, then there will be another to take the place and to maintain that trust.”
Mohler added, speaking on behalf of the presidents of all the SBC seminaries, that though they woke up that morning as leaders of six different institutions “bearing the stewardship and responsibility to serve one great denomination of churches,” tonight, “all Southern Baptists are Southwesterners.”
Following Mohler was Paul H. Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, who encouraged Greenway to maintain a vision for raising up and sending out missionaries of the Gospel. Recalling his time as a trustee of the IMB beginning in 2002, Chitwood noted that nearly all IMB missionaries and leaders were SWBTS graduates at that time.
“The fact that Southwesterners were leading the largest Christian missionary-sending agency in the history of the church was not lost on me; it was all I needed to know about the vision of Southwestern Seminary,” Chitwood said. “… It was obvious that Southwestern had a Great Commission vision that knew no rival in Southern Baptist life.”
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, delivered the final charge, speaking on the topic of cooperation.
“We can do more together than we can do alone,” Floyd said. “Southern Baptists, let us choose cooperation. Let us choose cooperation over isolationism, cooperation over independence, cooperation over competition, and cooperation over tribalism.”
“Southwestern Seminary has been uniquely and sovereignly placed in one of the greatest, most influential regions in the United States and the entire world, and standing upon the history of our past, we gaze toward our future,” Floyd said. “God has given us a president to lead us here who is 100 percent committed to Christ, 100 percent committed to the authority and inerrancy of the Scripture, 100 percent committed to the Baptist Faith and Message, 100 percent committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and 100 percent committed to the spirit and the attitude of cooperation.
“Dr. Greenway, we love you. We believe in you. We stand with you. And we cooperate with you and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to ensure, as much as it depends on us in our generation, that this Good News of the Kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations,” Floyd said. “Therefore, Dr. Adam Greenway, now is the time to lead.”
Following the charges, James R. Womack, pastor of Destiny Church in Fort Worth, invited Greenway, his wife Carla and their two children, Wade and Caroline, to the stage, where Womack prayed a prayer of dedication over them. Womack specifically prayed for the Greenways as a family, that God would give them spiritual protection resulting in a strong marriage and a godly household.
In his inaugural address, Greenway pledged to lead “one Southwestern” from four “vantage points”: institutionally, denominationally, relationally and ultimately.
Appealing often to the founding president of the institution, B.H. Carroll, Greenway anchored Carroll’s message in the seminary’s history, while also acknowledging recent missteps and offering an apology “for any way in which we have fallen short.”
With Ephesians 4:1-6 as the basis of his message, Greenway said that although the ceremony was for the purpose of the inauguration of a new president and to “celebrate” the “storied institution,” the first purpose of the gathering was to “worship our great God, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the reason we are here, and He is the hero of the story tonight.”
Greenway added, “We are one Southwestern. Whatever school you may be in, whatever class you graduated in, whatever president may have signed your diploma, we are one Southwestern family….
“It is my prayer that the Lord will grant me the wisdom of mind, the health of body, the strength of spirit, and the longevity of tenure as president to see Southwestern Seminary once again lead in every right way for the cause of Christ, the church, our convention, and His Kingdom.”
The inauguration concluded with three presentations – a proclamation from the City of Fort Worth presented by City Council member Jungus Jordan, a resolution from the faculty presented by Dean of Women Terri Stovall and a resolution from the board of trustees presented by chairman Philip Levant. Each of these presentations offered congratulations to Greenway and commitments of support and prayer for him, for his family and for SWBTS.
Following his presentation, Levant placed upon Greenway his presidential medallion, symbolizing the authority vested in him by the seminary’s board of trustees. The medallion features the iconic dome of the Memorial Building as well as the seminary’s historic location of Fort Worth.
“Dr. Greenway, as this medallion rests on your chest,” Levant said, “it will show the world what we already know to be true – that you hold Southwestern Seminary near and dear to your heart.”
Watch Greenway’s inauguration here: