Southern Baptist Theological Seminary installed new leaders in two of the school’s most important offices this week in separate ceremonies in Alumni Memorial Chapel.
Jeremy Pierre was installed as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry in a chapel service on Aug. 30 and Paul Akin was installed as provost and senior vice president for academic administration of the seminary on Thursday morning.
Paul Akin’s appointment is historic, SBTS noted. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Daniel Akin, who served as provost at Southern Seminary from 1996 to 2004. They are the first father-son tandem in Southern Baptist Convention history to serve as provost of the same institution. Today, Daniel Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, an office for which he left Southern Seminary in 2004.
Seminary President Albert Mohler called it a “blessed continuity.”
“There is nothing like this in Southern Baptist history,” Mohler said. “The only parallel to this I know is in the 18th and 19th centuries at Princeton Theological Seminary where there were fathers and sons that were serving in such similar capacities with names like Alexander and Hodge. …
“One of the greatest joys of my life was to work with Dr. Danny Akin when he was the dean of the School of Theology and provost because it wasn’t just a colleagueship; it was and is a very deep friendship.”
Daniel Akin preached in SBTS chapel Thursday (Sept. 1) during Paul Akin’s installation service. Exhorting from Mark 10:35–45, Daniel Akin encouraged his son to remember that the call, opportunity, and ability to serve God are all gifts of grace. He warned Paul to guard against a sinful form of ambition that can ruin a man of God and destroy his calling.
“It’s all of grace that you have a special call on your life,” Daniel Akin said. “I want Paul to understand that God called him to this particular position at this particular moment is all of grace.
“And yet if you ever begin to think, ‘That is something I deserve. That is something I should have,’ let me tell you, ambition is a killer in the Christian life,” he said. “There is such a thing as a holy ambition where you are longing with all of your being to honor and glorify God.
“I understand that, but I’ve lived for 45 years in ministry,” he noted, “and I’ve seen an unholy ambition grab the heart of those that at one time wanted to walk humbly before the Lord but now want to climb some pseudo-ladder of success, not to honor his name, but to build their own.”
Both Pierre and Paul Akin had been serving in their respective offices since earlier this summer, prior to the formal installation. Pierre was named dean early August after 20 years of teaching and serving in various other roles at Southern Seminary and Boyce College.
Akin was announced as provost and senior vice president for academic administration in mid-June at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim. Previously, he was dean of the Graham School.