Truett Seminary highlights growth even during pandemic

Matthew Davis (right), a Truett Theological Seminary graduate, is accompanied on the piano by current student Eli Gutierrez during the Friends of Truett online event. (Screen Capture)

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WACO—In spite of the challenges 2020 presented, Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary is not just surviving but is “thriving,” Dean Todd Still told a Friends of Truett virtual gathering on the eve of the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting.

Todd Still, dean of Truett Theological Seminary, brings an online report to the Friends of Truett virtual event. (Screen Capture)

Typically held as a dinner prior to Texas Baptists’ annual meeting, Truett Seminary presented its annual update for supporters through a livestream this year. The BGCT annual meeting also shifted to a teleconference format this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we met last November, it was difficult to imagine, much less anticipate, something like COVID-19,” Still said. “The impact—even the devastation—this virus has had on our state, our nation and the world is unimaginable.”

Even so, when the pandemic hit Texas in mid-March, Truett Seminary was able to “pivot quickly” and move to online instruction, he noted.

In May, Truett Seminary announced its plans for an extension campus in San Antonio to serve South Texas. At this point, the seminary hopes to launch the extension campus in fall 2021, Still said.

Although 2020 created multiple disruptions, Truett Seminary welcomed 341 students in August at the beginning of the fall semester, an 8.25 percent enrollment increase, he reported.

Still pointed to key faculty additions announced in 2020, including Malcolm Foley, inaugural director of Black church studies; Jennifer Howell, inaugural director of the theology, ecology and food justice program; and William J. Abraham, inaugural director of the Wesley House of Studies at Truett.

In the 2019-20 fiscal year, Truett Seminary raised a record $8.5 million. In the current fiscal year, the seminary already has raised $2.5 million since the end of May, Still noted.

As part of Baylor University’s ongoing $1.1 billion Give Light fund-raising campaign, Truett Seminary has reached 80 percent of its $50 million goal and has raised funds for 15 endowed scholarships, he reported.

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“The reason these numbers matter is because our students matter. Our mission matters,” Still said.

The Friends of Truett event also included a recorded message by Baylor President Linda Livingstone and testimonials by Nataly Mora, associate pastor of Park Lane Drive Baptist Church in Waco and a dual degree student at Truett and Baylor’s Garland School of Social Work; Angela Gorrell, assistant professor of practical theology at Truett; and Steve Wells, pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Houston, who was part of the seminary’s inaugural graduating class.

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