New Seminary Staff Welcomed
From December 2021 to November 2022, Truett Seminary welcomed a number of new staff members including:
Emma Beaird, Manager of Recruitment
Bridgette Boggess, Kyle Lake Center Events Coordinator
Biz DeJong, Office Manager, Faith & Sports Institute
George Gaston, PhD, Acting Director of Truett in Houston
Beth Ann Hargis, Media and Communications Manager
Mariah Humphries, Director of Parachurch Partnerships and Alumni Relations
Juli Kalbaugh, Project Manager, Program for the Future Church
Melissa Lambeth, Scholarship Coordinator
Abby Lee, Retreat Ministry Coordinator
George Gaston Appointed Acting Director of Truett in Houston
George Gaston, PhD, was appointed Acting Director of Truett in Houston on Aug. 8, 2022. As the leader of Truett’s additional instructional site in Houston, Gaston is charged with the oversight of the campus, which includes recruiting, supporting, and resourcing students, networking and building relationships with local ministers and other community leaders, and serving as a bridge between Houston and the Seminary’s flagship Waco campus. Truett in Houston, which is in its fifth year, offers classes leading to the MTS, MACM, and MDiv in two locations—Tallowood Baptist Church and the Lanier Theological Library.
Regarding Gaston’s selection, Steve Wells, Pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Houston, and a three-time Baylor graduate (BA, 1990; MDiv, 1997; DMin, 2003), remarked, “George Gaston is an inspired choice to direct the Houston extension of Baylor’s Truett Seminary. He is a wise and respected pastor, a gifted pastoral counselor, and an experienced and respected leader. His wide relational networks and deep love for Christ and the Church will be a great gift to Truett and her students. I join the chorus of those who celebrate his willingness to undertake this important task.”
Gaston holds a BA from Baylor University and an MDiv and PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Over the course of his faithful, fruitful, and manifold ministry, he has served as Pastor of several Texas Baptist churches, including First Baptist Church, Hamilton; Willow Meadows Baptist Church, Houston; Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, Abilene; and First Baptist Church, Corpus Christi. Gaston also was the Assistant Vice President for Spiritual Development and Community Outreach with Memorial-Hermann Healthcare System in Houston and the Regional Vice President for Mission and Ministry with the Baptist Health System in San Antonio.
Early in his career, Gaston was an Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and most recently served as Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Coordinator of the DMin program for Logsdon Seminary’s San Antonio Campus. Additionally, Gaston has served on the Board of Trustees for Memorial-Hermann Healthcare System, Houston Baptist University, Hendrick Medical Center, and Hardin-Simmons University. He and his wife, Susan, live in Richmond, TX, on the western edge of Houston and have two adult children and six grandchildren.
“Although I was not looking for a position,” Gaston commented, “after visiting with Dean Todd Still and others about Truett in Houston, and praying about the possibility, I began to sense a calling to embrace this important challenge. I’m honored and thankful to have this opportunity to help Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary build an even stronger presence in our great city of Houston. The churches and ministers of southeast Texas are indeed blessed to have such a valuable resource close to home. Joining my life experience, along with my love for training ministers of the Gospel, with Dean Still and the excellence of Truett Seminary is an exciting prospect for me. I’m confident that we can serve a diverse and growing number of God-called persons who want and need theological education.”
Truett Seminary Celebrates Record Fundraising Year
At the close of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Truett Seminary became the first academic unit at Baylor to reach and exceed its Give Light campaign goal. While certainly an exciting achievement, this success did not slow down Truett fundraising efforts nor did it reduce generosity from supporters. Instead, Truett Seminary celebrated a record fundraising year with gifts totaling $20.4 million in 2021-2022.
“The ongoing generosity and magnanimity that supporters—including individuals, churches, denominations, and foundations—have shown and continue to shower on Baylor’s Truett Seminary is a grace for which we are most grateful,” said Todd D. Still, PhD, DeLancey Dean and Hinson Chair of Christian Scriptures at Truett. “Even as God loves a cheerful giver, we love our school and those who graciously and generously support us.”
Over the past year, the majority of gifts to Truett Seminary have been designated for student scholarships. Following the significant seminary tuition reduction announced in November 2021, Truett has continued to prioritize affordability for students. The Seminary now enjoys the benefit of over 345 endowed student scholarships, with 13 raised in the last year. Endowed scholarships make a significant impact by creating a reliable source of ongoing funding, thereby helping to defray significantly the cost of a Truett education for both present and future students.
In particular, this last year saw encouraging interest and support around Truett’s recently launched Wesley House of Studies, including a $1.5 million gift to establish The William J. Abraham Endowed Chair through the Baylor Illuminate Chair Matching Program and a $1 million gift to establish the Wooley Family Endowed Scholarship for Wesley House students.
Entering into the 2022-2023 fiscal year, student scholarships and support remain Truett’s top priority. As enrollment increases, scholarship needs increase as well. Incoming students consistently list scholarships as an important factor in their decision to attend Truett, and the Seminary will continually seek to remove financial barriers to theological education for those sensing a call to ministry.
In addition to student scholarships, Truett also is seeking support for new and growing programs, such as the Faith & Sports Institute and the Program for the Future Church. Initiatives like these contribute to ministry training, cutting-edge research, and real-world impact both in churches and in ministries working alongside the Church.
To those who have already chosen to support Truett Seminary, thank you. To those who are interested, we welcome you to come alongside us and partner with Truett through a gift. To learn more about giving to Truett Seminary, contact Director of Development Jon Sisk at Jon_Sisk@baylor.edu or 254-715-6124 today.
Faculty Member Receives Grant To Complete Biography On 20th Century African American Preacher
Announced February 2, 2022, Jared E. Alcántara, PhD, Professor of Preaching and Holder of the Paul W. Powell Endowed Chair in Preaching, received a $40,000 grant through the Louisville Institute's Sabbatical Grant for Researchers (SGR) program.
“I could not be more excited to be one of this year's recipients of the Sabbatical Grant for Researchers,” Alcántara said. “I am so thankful to the Louisville Institute for supporting my project, and I am grateful for the Institute's ongoing investment in the church in North America. Thanks be to God!”
Funded by the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment, Louisville Institute awards grants and fellowships to those who lead and study North American religious institutions, practices, and movements, advancing scholarship to strengthen church, academy, and wider society. Louisville Institute’s SGR program enables ecclesiastically-engaged academics and scholarly religious leaders to conduct a major study that can contribute to the vitality of Christianity in North America. Grants support year-long research projects that address Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, and/or adaptive challenges confronting religious institutions.
Alcántara's SGR-funded project is to publish a definitive biography of Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Jackson (1900-1990), whose significance to 20th century Black Christianity and U.S. history more broadly has not yet been understood or appreciated. Alcántara hopes that by making the life and legacy of Jackson available, North American church leaders will acquire new homiletical knowledge both in theory and practice, recover neglected Civil Rights Era church history, and reflect on the ways that leadership and power is a double-edged sword in their modern context.
“Jared E. Alcántara is a premier researcher, teacher, and practitioner of homiletics, and Baylor's Truett Seminary is blessed to have him serving on our gifted (preaching) faculty,” said Todd D. Still, DeLancey Dean and Hinson Professor at Truett. “We celebrate Dr. Alcántara having received the Sabbatical Grant for Researchers from Louisville Institute to support his ongoing, groundbreaking work on the life and ministry of The Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Jackson, to be published by Oxford University Press in due course, even as we express our gratitude to Louisville Institute for their investment in religious and theological scholarship in general and in Dr. Alcántara's important research in particular. Furthermore, Truett Seminary is grateful to be able to partner with Louisville Institute in seeking to address pressing issues and practical concerns regarding Christian life and faith, pastoral leadership, and religious institutions.”