N.Y. partnership offers Southern students opportunity for ministry in 9/11 aftermath

Communications Staff — September 8, 2006

It has been five years since two jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in the deadliest terrorist attack in American history, but the need for ministry and healing in the aftermath of the attack is still fresh on the minds of faculty at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

That’s why Southern has launched a partnership with a New York organization called The Leadership Journey.

Based out of a Southern Baptist church plant called The Gallery Church, The Leadership Journey recruits college students from across the nation to spend a year in New York taking Christian leadership classes and doing ministry in churches across the metro New York area. The program was originally an initiative of Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board under its New Hope New York emphasis before moving to The Gallery Church.

Under the partnership, which began this year, professors from Southern and Boyce College travel to New York to teach classes to students in The Leadership Journey. Beginning in January Boyce and Southern administrators hope students will volunteer to spend a semester at The Leadership Journey. A semester in New York may result in up to nine credit hours and experience in urban evangelism and ministry.

James A. Scroggins, dean of Boyce College, said Southern’s desire to minister in New York is directly linked to the city’s openness to evangelism after 9/11.

“New York City is the most important city in the world and yet one of the most unreached cities in the world,” he said. “Missiologists have known that for a long time. But 9/11 has focused the attention of the world on New York City in a new way.

“ 9/11 didn’t change the evangelistic landscape of New York. It just brought it to our minds perhaps more than it was before.”

Aaron Coe, pastor of The Gallery Church and a Southern student, said the partnership offers students a valuable combination of practical experience, leadership training and theological education.

“This partnership allows students to come to New York City, serve in a vital ministry capacity and gain college-level or masters-level experience while they do it,” Coe said. “And they’re going to gain valuable leadership training.”

Scroggins, who has taught courses at The Leadership Journey, initiated the idea for the partnership during a brainstorming session with Coe, who also serves as executive director of The Leadership Journey. To attract students from around the country, Scroggins urged The Leadership Journey to set up its program so that participants could receive accredited college credit for their work.

The partnership began officially in August when Boyce professor Dave Adams taught “Introduction to Christian Education” in New York.

Adams urged Southern and Boyce students to consider spending a semester at The Leadership Journey because of its combination of practical ministry and classroom instruction. Adams serves as professor of youth ministry.

“It’s like surgeons training surgeons,” Adams said. “It’s one thing to be in the academic side, but to leave the classroom and then walk into the operating room—it’s something that’s not replicable. The students would come there, hear the classes, then spend time actually doing church planting with [church planters].”

Future courses taught by Boyce faculty will include theology, hermeneutics and evangelism.

Southern or Boyce students desiring further information about spending a semester at The Leadership Journey should contact Dave DeKlavon, Boyce’s associate dean for academic administration, at ddeklavon@sbts.edu.

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