NOBTS receives ‘providential gift’

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley announced details of a $1.5 million gift to NOBTS from an anonymous donor and other scholarship gifts for bivocational and African American students during the trustee executive committee’s June meeting.

The trustees also elected six new faculty members and launched several new teaching sites.

Kelley told trustees the “providential gift” — the largest single check during his presidency — comes at a critical time of need for the seminary.

The donor designated the gift be used in four ways.

Ten percent of the $1.5 million gift will provide technology upgrades in Bunyan Building and Hardin Student Center classrooms. For only an additional $5,000, presentation equipment in both the Leavell Center and Leavell Chapel also will be upgraded, Kelley said. Bids for the project already are in hand, with work to begin this summer.

“This will be the first time in our history that we’ve had all of our media presentation equipment on the same generation. We’re thrilled about that,” Kelley said.

The second designation is for $600,000 to be used for the construction of an on-campus community center to house the seminary’s homeschool program. The gift, plus $200,000 already set aside for the project, completes the anticipated $800,000 cost of the building.

“With so many campus families involved in homeschooling during their seminary days, the resource center made possible by this gift, coupled with an earlier gift from another family, addresses one of our most crucial needs,” Kelley said.

Kelley said many campus families who plan to serve with the International Mission Board opt to homeschool now because they anticipate homeschooling overseas. In addition, a robust homeschool program on the campus gives parents another alternative to New Orleans’ public school system.

The third portion of the gift –- totaling $500,000 –- will create a new professor position: a professor of church and community ministry in NOBTS’ newly-formed Church and Community Ministries Division. Kelley said the focus of the professorship will be “teaching students how you mobilize a congregation to get involved in ministry in their community around the church and in their city.”

“I strongly believe this is a skill set our churches must develop if we are to reach America in the 21st century,” Kelley said.

Kelley called this portion a “rolling endowment” in which the seminary draws down from the $500,000 each year until the funding is spent.

“They intend this to be for a professor’s salary for about five years. They tell us they anticipate adding more to this fund sometime before or at 2018,” he said.

Seminary leaders hope to fill the position by either Jan. 1, 2014, or the following August.

The final portion — $250,000 — will go toward entry/exit adjustments made necessary by the construction of a new Walmart in the shopping center located on the east side of the Hardin Student Center. Plans call for the store to open in mid-2014.

“Truly this is a providential gift. It addresses crucial missional and functional needs of the seminary,” Kelley said of the entire gift. “This is indeed a providential gift for the School of Providence and Prayer.”

Upon hearing Kelley’s report of the $1.5 million gift, the executive committee voted unanimously to accept and affirm the designations.

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