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Center for Baptist Renewal at OBU Announces New Name

June 13, 2023

The Center for Baptist Renewal at Oklahoma Baptist University has been named in honor of David S. Dockery, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Timothy F. George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School and Distinguished Professor of Divinity at Samford University.

The David S. Dockery and Timothy F. George Center for Baptist Renewal is a group of orthodox, evangelical Baptists committed to a retrieval of the Great Tradition for the renewal of Baptist faith and practice. As two of the preeminent Christian intellectuals of the current age, Dockery and George serve as fitting namesakes for the center.

The center seeks to equip Baptists with the resources of the Christian tradition so they might incorporate these beliefs and practices into the life of the local church.

Dockery and George

OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas serves as a fellow for the CBR and Dr. Matthew Emerson, Dean of Theology, Arts, and Humanities, and Co-Interim Provost of OBU, is a CBR board member.

“This new initiative is an exciting development in the life of our university,” Thomas said. “Honoring two friends and great leaders in the Baptist tradition, in higher education, and in the church, the Center for Baptist Renewal is poised to lead the world in Baptist thought. This will help advance OBU’s purpose to equip the next generation of future shapers to live all of life for Jesus. I could not be more delighted.”

Dr. Emerson conveyed his heartfelt appreciation to Dockery and George “for all that you have done and are doing in pursuit of an evangelical Baptist catholicity.” He added, “We are grateful for you both and for the ways you have shaped our own academic and spiritual paths.”

Dockery joined the SWBTS faculty in 2019 when he was named distinguished professor of theology and theologian-in-residence for the B.H. Carroll Center for Baptist Heritage and Mission. He also served as special consultant to the president. Later, he was named editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology, the seminary’s historic academic journal. From December 2020 to February 2022, he also served as interim provost at Southwestern. He is highly regarded as one of the outstanding leaders and senior statesmen in the world of Christian higher education, having served in leadership at Trinity International University, Union University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. 

George has served at Beeson Divinity School since its inception in 1988. As founding dean, he was instrumental in shaping Beeson’s character and mission. On July 1, 2019, George transitioned from dean to research professor of history and doctrine, and on May 5, 2020, he was named distinguished professor by the Samford University Board of Trustees. He has served as senior theological advisor for Christianity Today and on the editorial advisory boards of First Things and Books & Culture. George is the general editor of the 28-volume Reformation Commentary on Scripture.

Brief History of the CBR

CBR exists to retrieve the Great Tradition of the church for the renewal of Baptist faith and practice today, to paraphrase Timothy George’s famous phrase, “retrieval for the sake of renewal. This predominate concern has been the focus of CBR since its launch in 2017 when it held its inaugural event where a small gathering and panel discussion was held at First Baptist Providence (Rhode Island) —the first Baptist church in America.

Five years later, CBR met at OBU with one of the meetings held in Stubblefield Chapel, the original home of Shawnee’s First Baptist Church. In 1906, Baptists from around the state met there to form the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The focus of the event was again connecting current Baptist pastors and churches to the rich resources of the Church’s past.

For more information on CBR, visit their website.