Southern Seminary honors centennial of McCall’s birth in wreath-laying ceremony

Communications Staff — September 9, 2014

Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. speaks to a crowd of faculty and students at Cave Hill Cemetery to honor the life of Duke K. McCall, the institution's seventh and longest-serving president.
Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. speaks to a crowd of faculty and students at Cave Hill Cemetery to honor the life of Duke K. McCall, the institution’s seventh and longest-serving president.

Monuments marking the final resting place of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s first two presidents, James P. Boyce and John A. Broadus, overshadowed President R. Albert Mohler Jr. as he addressed the crowd.

“This is sacred ground if the seminary has ever known sacred ground,” Mohler said. “The story of Southern Seminary is told almost entirely, in one sense, in this single plot because it goes all the way back to the beginning of the seminary in 1859.”

On September 3, a caravan of cars departed the Southern Seminary campus for Louisville’s historic Cave Hill Cemetery. After weaving through “the second-largest city in Kentucky,” the group arrived at one of the seminary’s three plots inside the cemetery.

Mohler and others in the seminary community gathered to lay a wreath at the grave of Southern Seminary’s seventh president, Duke K. McCall, to celebrate what would have been the 100th anniversary of his birth, September 1.

“He was a man of incredibly rare bearing and a rare leader in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Mohler said of McCall, who served as Southern Seminary’s president from 1951 to 1982, and later as chancellor. McCall was president of the seminary when Mohler first enrolled as a student.

“When I was elected president in 1993 with the agenda of the conservative resurgence, Duke McCall called me the night the search committee chose me and let it be known that he had endorsed and supported my nomination to be president — which no doubt confounded a good many people,” Mohler said. Pulling out a letter written by McCall in Nov. 1993, Mohler read the words of advice from the former president, who encouraged Mohler to seek the support of his wife, Mary Mohler, when the tension of his presidency became overwhelming.

Mohler did not just honor the life of McCall, who died April 2, 2013, but used the opportunity to examine the history and legacy of Southern Seminary. Mohler said it is important to take opportunities such as these “to be reminded that the Lord used remarkable human beings to help found the school we now know, and to keep it alive through many dangers, many toils, and many snares.”

Boyce and Broadus did more than just found Southern Seminary, they helped create a legacy maintained by subsequent presidents and seen today through the lives of current students and faculty, he said.

The lives of these men should also remind faculty and students of their mortality, Mohler said.

“Eventually all seminary presidents, all seminary professors, and all seminary students, and all flesh find their way into a place like this. But because of the grace of Jesus Christ, the grave is not our final word,” said Mohler.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

Apply now for summer or fall studies

Classes begin in June & Aug.