May 4, 2015

BMATS-Ark. Annual Report to the Board

[In April I delivered the annual seminary report to the BMATS board.  Due to a lot of positive interest, I'm posting the outline below]

Annual Report to the Board of Trustees
The BMA Theological Seminary
Conway Campus, Year 2014-15
Dear Trustees and Administration,

I am pleased to be able to present to you the annual report on the development and progress of the BMATS, Arkansas campus for the academic year 2014-15.  A year ago I presented a proposal including goals for the revitalization of the Arkansas campus.  So, as we come to the end of the first year of our BMATS Arkansas revitalization effort, and prepare for year 2, it would be appropriate to highlight how those goals were realized as well as to highlight goals for the upcoming academic year.  An outline of the developments and progress for the 2014-15 academic year is below.

Faculty/Staff. We raised the money to hire our first fulltime Ark. campus faculty member with minimal impact on previous budget. Close to 100% was raised by a combination of new support plus reallocation of previous administrator’s salary.  In total we added/hired 6 new faculty and staff and began integrating them in the 2014 Fall semester.  In addition to the new campus administrator, we added the following: 1.) Recruiter/Administrative Support Specialist, Zach Nance (M.Div., Th.M., Philosophy of Religion); 2.) Director of Women, Janet L. Rickett (M.A. Biblical Counseling); 3.) Professor of Historical-Theological Studies, Andrew V. Snider (M.Div., Th.M., Th.D. Systematic Theology); 4.) Professor of Biblical Studies, Gary O'Neal (M.Div., Ph.D. New Testament); 5.) Professor of Church Ministries, Steven Crawley (M.B.A., M.A.R., Ph.D. Leadership); 6.) Professor of Church Ministries, Scott Attebery (M.Div., D.Min.).

Courses. For the first year, we expanded our course and program offerings by developing and implementing new cutting edge options.  These included: 1.) Selected Topics in Theology (Dr. Snider), which addressed pivotal issues including Homosexuality/Gay Marriage, Biblical Inerrancy, Creation, and Evangelical Inclusivism; 2.) Administrative Christian Leadership (Dr. Crawley); and 3.) Presuppositional Apologetics, in conjunction with the Paschal Lectures.  These are in addition to the standard courses we have been offering.  For Fall 2015, we are integrating two of our new faculty as part of our plan for sustained growth and expansion.  Drs. O’Neal and Attebery will be teaching courses either in-class, online, or both. 

Enrollment.  We saw a 100% increase in enrollment for in-class/traditional students from Spring 2014 to Fall 2014, and additional enrollment for online courses at both campuses.   

Campus.  1.) Administrative. After a few years of no visible presence at CBC, we were able to reestablish an essential, fully operational administrative seminary office. 2.) Academic. For the second/current semester (Spring 2015), for the first time we began offering a class in a morning time slot effectively expanding our campus from an afternoon/evening only campus to a traditional day school.  This expansion provides our students with additional classroom and course offerings, significantly increasing appeal to prospective and current students.  E.g., students who could only be on campus one day a week were provided the opportunity to have a full schedule by enrolling in the morning, afternoon, and evening classes.  Additional benefits include: potential decrease in program length, increase in academic options, and greater flexibility and convenience.

Programs. 1.) We have been able to decrease minimum enrollment time for the M.Div. on our campus from 4 years to 3 years by reducing time required to complete the original language course cycles.  E.g., instead of waiting a full year between the completion of Hebrew exegesis and Hebrew Grammar I, we have been able to schedule Hebrew Grammar I the academic year immediately following the end of the Hebrew language cycle.  Greek Exegesis and Hebrew Grammar will overlap for students choosing the 3 year program. 2.) We have turned our unofficial seminary wives program into an official Seminary Wives/Seminary Women program.  This is a free women’s discipleship program designed to assist the wives of our students, women students, and other women from the community in preparing for life in ministry.  This program is currently attended by wives of seminary students as well as women not otherwise connected to our seminary family.  3.) We’ve begun developing other women specific options and plan to host some off campus courses/programs as material, opportunities, and needs allow. 4.) We have implemented opening and closing chapel services to the academic calendar.

Advancement. 1.) Expositor’s Lunch Program. We developed and implemented an Expositors Lunch program.  This program is scheduled to meet two times per year and provides local pastors and Christian leaders the option of accessing free training in expositional preaching/teaching.  It is also creating a network of likeminded Christian leaders composed of those committed to the highest level of biblical fidelity in their preaching, teaching, and practical ministries.  Our first lunch was attended by 50-60 local pastors/leaders, even though the campus was officially closed due to inclement weather.  Over 70 registered for the lunch and we reached near capacity for our accommodations. 2.) Appeal to non-BMA. In addition to BMA pastors/leaders, the lunch was attended by members of the National Baptist Convention, SBC, non-affiliated Bible Church, ABA, Reformed Baptist, and Capitol Commission (6 non BMA affiliations), etc. By broadening our appeal, we are making significant progress towards reaching the larger Christian community in Arkansas.

Inter Campus Cooperation.  1.) Teaching/lectures. Our campus Administrator gave the Brand lectures on the subject of presuppositional apologetics (referenced above) at the Texas campus.  Lectures were well-received and continue to be accessed online via Sermon Audio. Also, he will teach an apologetics course to Latin American students with Dr. Ricky Williams via satellite in June.  Our new Professor of Historical-Theological Studies was utilized on the Texas campus both in chapel and via class room lectures through our satellite system.  He is also scheduled to teach with Dr. Holmes on our Honduras campus in the summer.  Next semester Dr. O’Neal is scheduled to teach a NT course that will also be available at the Texas campus and on our campus in the Philippines. 2.) BMATS, Ark. faculty participated in and contributed to work related to the doctrinal statement revision and white paper.

Scholarly and Professional Contributions.  Unique to an academic institution is the importance of contributing to the larger academic community.  For a theological seminary, this is particularly important in its specific domain of specialization.  Although scholarly contributions benefit the institution in ways related to accreditation and credibility, it is most important for the larger purposes of serving Christ as we seek to shape thinking, church life, and culture by producing Christ exalting materials and influencing Christian leaders.  This year, the BMATS, Ark. team made a number of contributions in these areas.

1.) Presentations and Conferences.  The Evangelical Theological Society and its sister organization, The Evangelical Philosophical Society are the premier professional societies for evangelical scholars in the fields of theology and philosophy.  Several of our new team members are active in these societies.  This year, for the first time, our campus was represented at the Southwest regional meetings of both societies on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  Zach Nance presented a scholarly paper in the area of religious knowledge at EPS, while Andy Snider represented BMATS at ETS.  Similarly, Janet Rickett represented BMATS at the Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference in Florida.  Our administrator represented BMATS at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics at the Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina, and the Stand Firm apologetics conference at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.  Also, he represented BMATS in an address to local state legislators at the Arkansas State Capitol.  

2.) Scholarly and Professional Publications.  Scott Attebery published a book in the area of practical decision making, entitled, Navigate: Understanding & Pursuing God's Will (Discipleguide, 2014).  Also, our campus administrator made several new scholarly, contributions in the areas of biblical studies, comparative religions, and Christian apologetics.  These were published articles in a new electronic dictionary (Lexham Bible Dictionary, Lexham Press, 2014), a major study Bible (Faithlife Study Bible, Faithlife 2014), a forthcoming printed version of the LBD (Lexham Press, 2015), and he has agreed to a contract for a new book on presuppositional apologetics (DiscipleGuide, projected release date, 2015) with endorsements already received from key leaders in the field.  There are other contracts under discussion as well.

Trajectory. In general, our current trajectory is upward.  We have a general increase in prospective student interaction with new inquiries coming from a variety of sources.  There is a general increase in excitement among the current student population as they see the positive changes, focused direction, and upward trajectory of the campus, administration, faculty and staff.  Students are excited about implementing their training in their local churches (are already doing so) and in seeing Christ honored with more faithful service to Him.

Serving Christ,

R. Brian Rickett, Th.M.; Th.D./D.Min. studies
Professor of Biblical Studies
Conway, Ark. Campus Administrator
The BMA Theological Seminary

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