SBC DIGEST: WMU provides free books; SWBTS revises doctoral program

WMU partnership provides free books during COVID-19 pandemic

By Julie Walters

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., (WMU) -- Iron Stream Media, WMU and the WMU Foundation are offering curated boxes of books to send to those isolated in senior care facilities, hospice centers and hospitals as well as other seniors sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The joint initiative,Honor 6:2, is based on Ephesians 6:2: "Honor your father and mother."

According to John Herring, CEO of Iron Stream Media, the seed was planted when one of Iron Stream's subcontractors asked if she could order a couple of boxes of books to send to local elderly care facilities.

"I thought it was a great idea," Herring said, "and the thought came into my heart early the next morning that we could expand on her idea. As I was praying, I was thinking of what it must be like to have read everything on the shelf and longing for a new book to read.

"We have a warehouse full of books that need to be read. Many of our parents and grandparents have more time on their hands than ever. Visitations may not be possible, but we can gift inspiring books to them to help them grow in their spiritual walk with the Lord. I pray each recipient will receive joy from knowing that we remember and honor them and enjoy having a new book to read."

Each box contains titles from three categories -- Bible studies, Christian living and Christian fiction -- as well as a copy of "Your Pain is Changing You," a book written by David Crosby, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church New Orleans, about his experience after Hurricane Katrina.

All curated books are new and free. The only associated costs are for shipping and handling. To gift a box, go to honor62.com, select a box size, indicate where to ship it and provide payment information. Boxes of books are available in four sizes: mini (4-6 titles), small (7-11 titles), medium (11-17 titles), or large (more than 20 titles). There is also an option to make a donation above the box price to help support the Honor 6:2 ministry, through the WMU Vision Fund.

"We hope the hearts of those sheltering in place and isolated will be touched to know they are being thought about even in the midst of the chaos caused by COVID-19," said Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director of national WMU. "We want them to be assured God loves them and cares about them, and we pray they are encouraged as God strengthens their faith and enables them to overcome challenges they may face.

"Everything we do is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We pray in each circumstance, God will be honored."

David George, president of the WMU Foundation, added, "We are always honored and privileged to work with WMU and her ministry partners. This effort to honor our elder loved ones during the novel coronavirus pandemic is a perfect example of one of the many ways we can partner together and help others."

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SWBTS revised doctoral program prioritizes student development

By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has revised its professional doctoral program.

The new program is built upon three key elements: guided online discussions, an annual on-campus experience, and contextualized ministry coaching. This format means students will be able to interact with professors and fellow students online and in-person while remaining in their respective fields of service.

Shane Parker, director of the D.Ed.Min. program, said, "This distinctive approach truly prioritizes the formation of the whole student, for the benefit and advancement of their local church or ministry."

Coleman Ford, director of professional doctoral studies, said the changes have positioned Southwestern's professional doctoral program to be "the premiere program among evangelical institutions of higher learning."

Both the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) and Doctor of Educational Ministry (D.Ed.Min.) have been designed to "accommodate vocational pressures most students experience while simultaneously prioritizing the residential experience," Ford said.

Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary, said the program is ready to provide the very best in advanced ministry training, resulting in more effective ministers for Southern Baptist churches and beyond.

"I am deeply grateful for the leadership of Dr. Ford in bringing about this renewal of our Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Educational Ministry programs," Greenway said.

Randy Stinson, provost for SWBTS, noted the excitement surrounding the newly revised programs.

"We are excited not only to offer these new concentrations for professional doctoral study, but to see them delivered in a way that provides greater flexibility for pastors and ministry leaders while retaining academic excellence and exceptional student formation," Stinson said. "This refreshed program represents everything Southwestern Seminary stands for."

Students will begin writing their doctoral project "from day one," Ford said, "in order to weave the needs of their ministry context into the doctoral writing experience."

The program is specifically designed to be completed within 36 months, enabling students to complete their degree in a timely fashion in order to quickly put their learning into practice in their ministries.

New and refreshed concentrations include Christian formation and discipleship, Christian leadership, Christian worship, Great Commission apologetics, executive leadership, pastoral theology (previously pastoral leadership), and family ministry (previously youth or children's ministry).

"Our premier programs in biblical counseling, church revitalization, and text-driven preaching will include new opportunities for formation and fellowship specific to students in those concentrations," Ford said. "Our new concentrations have been built from the ground up and will offer targeted training for ministry leaders in order to equip them to be expert practitioners in various fields of ministry.

"With all these elements in place, we are confident that graduates from our program here at Southwestern Seminary will be formed and trained to lead more effectively through unique ministry challenges and engage in Great Commission work for God's glory and the fame of Jesus Christ."

Julie Walters writes for WMU. Alex Sibley is associate director of news and information at SWBTS.
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