Voices: Support Texas Baptist higher education

Craig Hall at East Texas Baptist University (Photo: ETBU Communications)

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Hello, Texas Baptists!

On Sunday evening, June 30th, Kathleen and I attended an event in Dallas hosted by Scott Bryant, director of advancement for East Texas Baptist University, featuring a report from President Blair Blackburn. It was a delightful evening, and we came away excited about the good work being done at ETBU and encouraged about the future of that wonderful Texas Baptist institution.

One family’s experience with ETBU

We had the privilege of sitting at a table with a father and his two daughters. The oldest daughter, Sarah, will be a sophomore at ETBU this fall and plays on the golf team. She absolutely loves the school and the sport and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to attend, study and make lifelong friends.

The younger daughter, Laura, will be a freshman this fall and also will play on the golf team. She could not be more excited about the days, weeks and months ahead.

The proud father of these two young ladies expressed to us—more than once—how glad he is that his girls have found a place like ETBU to further their education and to develop into the individuals God has created them to be.

It was a lovely conversation, and we left feeling good about what Texas Baptists have done over the years to help establish and maintain great institutions like ETBU.

My experience with ETBU

My own history with ETBU goes back to my days as a pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sulphur Springs. I had just finished my Doctor of Ministry degree and was provided an opportunity to serve as a field supervisor for another D.Min. student, Chris Craig, who at the time was the pastor of a small church in Texas. Chris is now the pastor of First Baptist Church in Ruston, La., and has remained a friend of mine all these years. Chris’s father Robert Craig is a former president of ETBU, and a residence hall on campus is being refurbished and named Craig Hall.

A couple of years later, I was asked by the Baptist General Convention of Texas to serve as a trustee of ETBU. I enjoyed my time on the board very much. I was pleased to serve and was sad to have to resign my place when God called me to another ministry.

Leadership at ETBU

I met Scott Bryant when I was working at Truett Seminary and he was finishing his Ph.D. at Baylor. He is such a fine man and doing a really good work for ETBU. I met President Blackburn when he was a Vice President at Dallas Baptist University. It was fairly clear upon meeting Blair that a university president position would call him one day.

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A little over a year ago, the Lord called Texas Baptists’ own Scott Stevens, publisher of BaptistWay Press, to ETBU as director of spiritual life. He is serving them very well.

ETBU is an example of our wonderful BGCT institutions, and I encourage you to look for ways to be helpful and supportive of them, including with financial resources as you are able.

The need for Christian higher education

The need for true Christian higher education has never been greater. You and I can help with financial assistance to a BGCT school or program at the school for which you have a heart.

Personally, I encourage everyone to consider student scholarships. Young women such as Sarah and Laura need the assistance and would make any donor proud of the contribution.

I easily could write an article about any of our Texas Baptist schools. This recent experience reminded me of my personal connections with ETBU and of the great need that exists all over our state and beyond to help future Texas Baptists receive a great education and to do so without a debt load that might prevent them from going, doing and being all God has for them.

David Hardage is the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The BGCT and Baptist Standard are independently-related partners.

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