In an era when there are many non-Baptist seminaries create a special space for Baptist priests in training, Baptist seminary creates space for Wesleyan priests in training.
Baylor University announced on November 18 the award of a new academic chair that will support the Wesley House of Studies at Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary. With an anonymous $ 1.5 million gift – which will be paired through a university incentive for an appropriate Illuminate gift – the William J. Abraham Endowed Chair was established. An additional million-dollar gift was given by Jeff and Debbie Wooley of Woodway, Texas, to support program students through scholarships.
The Truett Seminary was founded in 1991 amid a rift within the Southern Baptist Convention that led to non-fundamentalist clergy seeking seminary education outside the six SBC seminaries. Over the next 30 years, Truett created an identity as a place for a wide range of students who continue to serve Texas Baptist churches, Southern Baptist churches, and Cooperative Baptist Community churches.
Diaspora from SBC seminary – influenced by students and faculty – has launched several new more progressive seminaries, but also Baptist houses of study in other non-Baptist schools such as the University of Texas Disciples (Christ), Duke Divinity School (United Methodist) and recently the Perkins Seminary in Southern Methodist University.
The new academic chair in Baylor was named in memory of William J. Abraham, a member of the Truett Seminary and founder of the Wesley House of Studies. Abraham died on October 8. Baylor’s Wesley House of Studies was founded in 2020.
This academic department “not only lavishly pays homage the life and legacy of our recently deceased friend and colleague, but it also further establishes our school’s Wesley House of Studies as a sustainable and desirable place to continue ministerial training in the Wesleyan tradition, ”said Truett Seminary Dean Todd Still. “Both the gifted chairman and this significant scholarship will have a direct and lasting impact on Truett’s work and testimony.”
Truett Seminary is currently collaborating with Ryan Barnett and First Methodist Church of Waco, where he serves as principal pastor. Barnett chairs the Wesley House of Studies Advocacy Team.
Baptist seminaries recently hired Kevin Watson, whom Barnett described as a “rising star in the Methodist Academy,” as an associate professor of research.
The acquisition of all these events puts Truetta “in a good position to become one of the most important training centers for future Methodist priests,” Barnett said.
Website for Baylor’s Wesley House of Studies describes its intention “to form and equip disciples focused on Christ, guided by the Spirit to serve churches and other institutions in the Wesleyan tradition”.
Such a tradition in American religious life involves more than the United Methodists, although the UMC is the most famous of the Wesleyan denominations. There are other terms of Methodist congregations, as well as other denominations that carry parts of Wesleyan identity. These include some Pentecostal churches and churches of Holiness, Nazarene churches and the Salvation Army.
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