The Peer Assessment Committee, led by Dr. David Dockery, chancellor of Trinity International University, has completed its review of Southwest Baptist University's integration of faith, learning and doctrine.
In particular, the committee evaluated the key elements of Baptist distinctiveness that inform SBU’s identity as a Missouri Baptist institution.
The key finding of the committee is the University’s Statement of Faith has not been implemented effectively across the fabric of the University. The Statement of Faith was adopted in 1921 and recently reaffirmed by Missouri Baptist Convention messengers in 2012. For the long-term health and faithfulness of SBU, the institution must clarify its Statement of Faith to be a clear and compelling theological framework.
In addition, the committee determined, due to the lack of a clearly implemented Statement of Faith, the doctrinal position of SBU has been perceived as ambiguous. This lack of clarity has led to an erosion of trust between the University and Missouri Baptists. SBU and the Missouri Baptist Convention must work together to restore that trust.
“We appreciate the work of Dr. Dockery and the Peer Assessment Committee,” said Mark Rains, chair of the SBU Board of Trustees. “We will now continue their work by digesting this assessment and working with SBU Administration to respond in a deliberate fashion.”
The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees will publicly release an executive summary of the review after it has been shared internally. With many employees not on campus during the summer, it will take a few weeks to accomplish internal communication.
SBU President Dr. Eric Turner also praised the work of the committee and is committed to lead the efforts needed to ensure the spiritual vitality of SBU.
“Dr. Dockery and the committee have accurately and effectively surmised the situation in which SBU has found herself. Over the coming weeks and months, you will see evidence of SBU’s thoughtful response to this assessment,” Dr. Turner said.
“We are currently working to clarify, boldly articulate and implement our Statement of Faith that will further align and strengthen our Baptist identity and Christian faith. Since my arrival at SBU, I have recognized the need for SBU to strengthen our relationship with the Missouri Baptist Convention and its churches. This assessment affirms that position. We must collectively work together to rebuild trust between SBU and Missouri Baptists.”
Dr. John Yeats, Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, is encouraged by SBU’s response to the committee’s assessment.
“In the life of every institution with denominational roots, there are those moments in history to reinvigorate the core Biblical beliefs within the context of the educational environment. Dr. Dockery and his team, at the invitation of Dr. Turner, have assessed and provided a recommended framework to bring doctrinal and missional revival to SBU,” Dr. Yeats said.
“I am deeply encouraged that decisive and strategic implementation is characteristic of Dr. Turner’s leadership. This peer assessment is a welcomed tool for him and the SBU Board of Trustees to use as a guide in the days ahead. Pray for SBU as they work diligently to establish bold initiatives that demonstrate their alignment with Missouri Baptist churches.”
SBU and MBC leadership are actively working to strengthen their shared relationship.
“I am grateful to Dr. Yeats and the Missouri Baptist leadership in our collaborative conversations regarding these issues,” Dr. Turner said. “Our collective efforts are intended to ensure Southwest Baptist University will be the exemplar Christian University providing a transformative and holistic educational experience for years to come.”
Over the course of its assessment, the committee met with SBU administration, faculty and staff, SBU trustees, and Missouri Baptist Convention leadership. The committee’s conversations and research led to findings that were presented to the SBU Administration and the Executive Committee of SBU’s Board of Trustees.
“The Peer Assessment Committee wishes to thank the Southwest Baptist University Board, administration, faculty and staff for their kindness to the committee members during this process,” Dr. Dockery said. “We are particularly grateful to the leaders of SBU and the Missouri Baptist Convention for their openness with the committee and their shared desire to strengthen the work of the SBU community in the days ahead. I am thankful for the dedicated work of the other committee members, who join with me in offering prayers for God's help, guidance and blessing for SBU for the months and years to come.”