Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s the time of the year to be inundated with “Best of” stories and “Year in Review” segments, dutifully cataloging everything that happened in pop culture or politics.
But, what if a “Year in Review” was about more than Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian? What if we did a year in review about what God had done in the prior year? Or, more to the point, about how God has been at work in our ministries this year?
Of course, God has been at work in countless ways around the globe this year, most of which I could never know about. But, I can speak to how he has blessed RTS Charlotte. So, here’s a quick recap of what I am thankful for in 2019:
1. New Students. It may sound strange, but every year I am genuinely surprised that anyone comes to seminary. Let’s be honest, ministry is tough. Those in ministry are often underappreciated, unthanked, heavily criticized, underpaid, and unrespected by our modern culture. Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful things too. But, I stand amazed that men and women still show up every year to take on this calling.
And this fall, 2019, RTS Charlotte was blessed to have our largest enrollment in over a decade. So thankful the Lord has brought us these students. Our goal is to be good stewards of them until they are sent out from us.
2. Will Ross. There are few things more important in a seminary than a faculty. And RTS Charlotte is blessed with 11 wonderful residential faculty members. But, it is always appropriate to thank the Lord for the new ones he brings us. In 2019, we were blessed with the arrival of Dr. Will Ross, Assistant Professor of Old Testament. Having recently completed his Ph.D. at Cambridge University, Will brings a fresh voice to our faculty, an interest in Septuagint studies, and a wonderful connection to the students. So grateful for him.
3. Three new Ph.D.’s. Speaking of faculty, two of our other newer faculty members, Kevin DeYoung and Blair Smith, both successfully defended their Ph.D. theses. Dr. DeYoung’s was at the University of Leicester on John Witherspoon’s theology, and Blair Smith’s was on fourth-century pro-Nicene trinitarian theology at the University of Durham (England). Along with James Anderson, these two men round out a fantastic department of Systematic Theology. In addition, Nate Brooks, Coordinator of the Christian Counseling program here in Charlotte, just defended his Ph.D. dissertation in counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Well done, Nate!
4. Women on campus. Over the past several years, we’ve worked hard to get more women on the Charlotte campus. In 2019, God continued to bless our efforts as we launched the new Women in Ministry Scholarship, one of a kind in the RTS system, and finished up two years of my on-campus women’s Bible study through Hebrews. In addition, our Community Life Coordinator, Mallie Taylor, helped launch our Teaching Women to Teach seminar this fall, which has nearly 120 women each week in attendance. As a result, our women’s community on campus is as vibrant as ever.
5. Nate Groelsema. 2019 also included the hiring of our new admissions director, Nate Groelsema, who has hit the ground running and kept our admissions department the social hub of the Charlotte campus. With the help of Chris Vaughn, Katy McIlvaine, and a number of student workers, we have a fantastic admissions team. They even sent out their own Christmas card this year!
6.The Charlotte Eagles. RTS Charlotte was excited to announce a new partnership in 2019 with Missionary Athletes International, a group dedicated to using the sport of soccer to reach the world for Christ. In this region, they are most known for their professional soccer team, The Charlotte Eagles, and their Urban Eagles outreach to inner city Charlotte. Those who know me, know that I love the sport of soccer, and I also really believe in what MAI is doing. RTS will be the exclusive seminary partner with MAI, offering theological training to their staff and leaders.
7. Andrew Brunson. In 2016, EPC pastor and missionary, Andrew Brunson, was arrested in Turkey and charged with espionage. For two years, he was held in prison under the most difficult of circumstances. Andrew came to RTS Charlotte this fall, 2019, to share his incredible story of perseverance, hope, and faithfulness. The Charlotte campus has sent many of our students to the mission field over the years, and Andrew’s presence here was a great boost to that trend.
8. Visiting scholars. In 2019, Charlotte was blessed to welcome a number of visiting scholars who came to teach, lecture, and speak to our students. These included Tom Schreiner (who taught a course on Revelation), Michael Horton (who did our Harold O.J. Brown lectures), Bob Kellemen (who taught a counseling course), Carl Trueman (taught a class on Martin Luther), Les Newsom (who taught a campus ministry course), and Jonathan Leeman (who taught a baptist polity elective).
9. The Gospel Coalition. In 2019, RTS Charlotte hosted the Southeast regional chapter of The Gospel Coalition. RTS has many connections to TGC, including our Chancellor, Ligon Duncan, being on the board, and Kevin DeYoung being the chairman of the board. In addition, my wife Melissa took on a new role in 2019 as the Director of Women’s Content for TGC. So proud of her!
In sum, 2019 was a blessed year for RTS Charlotte. “Praise him for his mighty deeds” (Ps 150:2)!