Today marks a historic milestone in the history of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and in the presidency of R. Albert Mohler, Jr., as he has surpassed Duke K. McCall as the longest-tenured president in the institution’s history. In addition, he is the longest-serving leader of any SBC entity.
The presidency of Albert Mohler has been marked by his convictional leadership, adept administrative abilities, and role as a statesman in the Southern Baptist Convention as he fulfilled the goals set out by conservative Southern Baptists to see their flagship seminary return to biblical fidelity and its confessional heritage.
The Board of Trustees elected Mohler on March 26, 1993, as the 9th President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and took office on August 1. At 33 years of age, Mohler became the youngest president in the school’s history, with the trustees viewing his age as an asset, knowing it could lead to a lengthy tenure and provide important stability and continuity to Southern Seminary.
Reflecting on what the occasion personally means to him, Mohler said, “When I was elected president, I was barely 30 and couldn’t imagine being anywhere for 30 years, so I look at this with a great appreciation for what the Lord has done. This is an incredible stewardship. It’s been my great honor to hold and fulfill that stewardship, and I’m very thankful.” He continued, “This is a very personal issue for me because I am a bridge between those who came before us and those who will come after us. I had the great privilege of knowing many of the people who helped build the Southern Baptist Convention during the 20th century. So I know of those who gave such outstanding leadership, not only at Southern Seminary but in other entities of the Southern Baptist Convention. I understand that longevity makes a difference, and I hope this is encouraging to Southern Baptist.”
When discussing this important achievement with Mohler, he was quick to express his gratitude, saying, “My first and deepest thankfulness is to Mary, who has been in this with me from the beginning, who has been as committed to this task as I have been, and without whom we wouldn’t be having this conversation about long tenure.” He continued, “I’m so thankful for the trustees Southern Baptist have elected who have been so faithful through the years to serve so effectively as guardians of the institution and its governing board. I am also very thankful to the faculty who have come, especially in the early years, just stepping out in faith to join this venture. Everybody must start out at some point as a new young scholar, and the fact that so many have continued for so long in such multiplied faithfulness here is, to me, an amazing thing. And then to students. I’m so thankful for the thousands of students and now thousands of graduates who have come through, and I get to see their faithfulness in ministry on the mission field, the difference they’re making in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
The Lord has providentially blessed Southern Seminary with multiple presidents with lengthy tenures. Speaking to the institutional significance of presidential longevity, Mohler said, “If you look at the history of this institution, and honestly, you look at the strength of the institution, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that there have only been nine men who served as president going back to 1859. I am the fourth president of Southern Seminary to serve 30 years, and the Lord has just given me a little more time than he gave the others. The fact that four of nine presidents have served for 30 years is nearly unprecedented in American higher education.”
Mohler expressed that one of the greatest privileges of serving as President of Southern Seminary is the joy of being part of the work God is doing in the Southern Baptist Convention. He said, “The task of leadership involves so many different dimensions, but the most important dimension that is often neglected is simply leadership in saying thank you. And so, my sincere and enthusiastic thank you is addressed to every Southern Baptist whose life, generosity, and faithfulness is translated into the work of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And so it is my task and privilege to look at Southern Baptist and say thank you.”
This unprecedented achievement in Mohler’s leadership of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a testament to the Lord’s continued faithfulness to this institution. This occasion gives us one more moment in 2023 to reflect with gratitude on all the Lord has done through Dr. Mohler and the unwavering support of Mrs. Mohler during his presidency as we look forward to Dr. Mohler’s continued convictional and faithful leadership in the days to come.