I want to begin by thanking God. I am confident that we are watching the Lord work here at GBTS. It is exciting to be a part of such a ministry. Just one year ago, I would’ve never suspected that so much would occur in 2021. I would’ve never suspected that the Lord would bring us one of the world’s foremost theologians—Dr. Owen Strachan. This was due to the divine favor of God. In addition to Dr. Strachan, the Lord has gifted us additional administrative support—an administrative assistant, Mrs. Regina Pryor, and our chief financial officer, John Winham. God foresaw, with the added faculty and student enrolment, the need for more organization and management support. God is bringing the pieces together—the students, staff, facilities, facility, and finances.
Knowing that God uses His people to carry out his purposes, I want to thank all of you for your prayers, partnership, and support. I don’t believe God is finished. The work has just begun. Much of the heavy lifting is yet ahead of us. Our goal is to train and equip faithful men for the work of the ministry. And it’s my belief that this is one of the most crucial and vital works in the world. May God use all of us to reach the world with the gospel through the theological training and spiritual development of faithful men who are unashamed to preach the whole counsel of God’s Word.
As Provost, I am thrilled with the strong faculty we are assembling at GBTS. During the fall, Dr. Johnson and I had many conversations about targeted areas, and we are grateful to God that all four of our prospective hires have – in God’s kindness – joined the work. Dr. James White will teach in Apologetics and Church History. As one of the Christian world’s most established thinkers, we believe this is a tremendous help to our student body, especially in a skeptical age like this one. Truly, all our external ministry to a fallen world must be apologetically inclined, and Dr. White will train our students in such a mentality.
We have added Jeffery Moore in New Testament. Jeff is a Westminster graduate, a gifted exegete, and an experienced pastor. He is as sharp as he is humble. In Pastoral Ministry, we have brought Dr. Scott Aniol to the team. Dr. Aniol has written numerous books on God-centered worship and ministry, and he was a professor for many years at Southwestern Seminary. In missions, Dr. Ryan Bush will provide instruction, material soaked in decades of on-field experience. Dr. Bush leads ICP | Didache Institutes, a pastoral-training work in various countries, and will thus be able to both train and prepare students to take the gospel to lost people all over the world.
Our Goal at GBTS is to build a Baptist Westminster. The way to that ambitious goal is first this: to assemble a world-class faculty composed of men whose vision of a great God translates into godly character and deep thinking. The Lord has been kind to our school thus far — very kind. As I reflect on 2021, I am grateful for the serious strides we are making, and I am praying that we will only push further ahead to train the next generation of pastors and advance the unstoppable kingdom of Christ.
We are encouraged by the growth of enrollment at GBTS. We began the Fall of 2021 with 38 students which is a 144% increase from the Fall of 2020. In the Spring we anticipate an additional 15% growth at 45 total students. There is an obvious demand and hunger for our ministry as a seminary.
More than the quantity, I’m encouraged with the quality of our students. Our admissions process is designed to find men with a love for sound doctrine accompanied with a love for the church. We desire our students to be committed to ministry in and through the local church. GBTS does not exist to train mere academics but churchmen through and through. To put this in perspective, 60% of our current students are already serving in a formal ministry capacity and 40% are preparing for future ministry. Many people think of seminaries as only training future generations of pastors, however we can see fruit of our ministry now as we encourage and equip pastors in churches while also training men for future ministry.
What has brought me the most encouragement in 2021 is the student prayer meeting. Charles Bridges wrote “Prayer without study is presumption, study without prayer is atheism.” This is a quote that cuts to the heart. It has been a blessing to pray with our students, help to bear their burdens while they help to bear mine and each other’s.
Another noted accomplishment of 2021 was the Credo Conference on Social Justice and the Gospel. Our desire in hosting the conference was to provide biblical clarity to the deceptive ideologies behind social justice. We believe the Lord produced fruit from our efforts as 500 people attended, many of which attended to be introduced and biblically informed on these topics.
2021 has been a remarkable year for GBTS. The Lord has provided for our seminary in a variety of ways that we could not have imagined, and we can confidently say that the good work being done here is sustained by His gracious provision.
We have developed a Master of Divinity degree that is both balanced and academically rigorous. A student who earns our flagship degree will have completed eight courses in Greek and Hebrew with a specific focus on translation and exegesis for the purpose of preaching and teaching in the local Church. Our M.Div. includes eight classes in systematic theology, governed by God’s Word and consistent with our Reformed Baptist distinctives as expressed in the Second London Baptist Confession. The remaining courses in Biblical Studies and Pastoral ministry bring our M.Div. to 100 credits. Pastoral ministry requires a diverse skill set and, in a time, where most M.Div. programs are making significant cuts to make the path to a degree easier for students, we are committed to a robust program of training. In addition to this, we are making significant progress toward accreditation with the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries. This is an organization of conservative reformed seminaries, in contrast to other accrediting agencies which are steadily compromising on social and theological issues. Membership in ARTS will assure our students and supporters that we are delivering on our commitments to students and holding ourselves to a high standard of academic excellence and biblical fidelity. Our application has already been submitted to ARTS and we anticipate approval to enter the self-study phase in the near future. It is possible that full accreditation may be achieved as early as 2022. This is a remarkable pace for our still-young seminary.
Grace Bible Theological Seminary is a young and rapidly growing seminary. We are planning and building financial systems that can be scaled-up to meet the demands of this growth. GBTS is running on a lean budget. A group of first-class, unpaid, volunteer faculty will supply half of the Spring 2022 classroom instruction. Likewise, we have filled our administrative positions with experienced volunteers. Our operating cost are low and an education at GBTS is affordable. Consider partnering with GBTS and help us prepare a generation of men for the challenging work of taking His light, and love, and Word to the world.
We at GBTS want to want to thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support in 2021. Through these means the Lord has caused our ministry to thrive. If you would like to support our labors in 2022 please pray that the Lord would establish the work of our hands. In addition, consider giving to the Sound Churches Initiative. We are seeking to raise $250,000 to power the work of the gospel ahead: www.gbtseminary.org/donate. For more information on the campaign, here is Provost Dr. Owen Strachan’s introductory video.
Happy New Year, and may the Lord bless you and keep you in 2022
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