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President’s Message

Dr. Joshua W T Cho

The Path of Growth——New Responsibility, New Chapter

The four years during which I have been the President of the Seminary have flown by. In these years, the glory of God has been revealed to us through His sustaining love. I am awed by, and forget not, all His deeds among us. Jesus Christ once described the destruction of the temple: “No one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down” (Mk 13:2). However, Christ also promised to return in glory: “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mk 13:26). Jesus Christ holds His promise to come back in clouds with great power and glory to gather the nations. Through the image of hope I am able to see a picture of the Seminary growing in the midst of challenges. Though the Seminary confronts different challenges in the chaotic and distressful world, we will never be driven to despair or lose our vision and direction for theological education. All the difficulties the Seminary encounters will only remind us to have hope in God as we carry out with great care what God has entrusted us to accomplish. We dedicate our soul, integrity, wisdom, and our strengths for the equipping of excellent servant leaders for the churches of the present and the future.

Hospitality: The Mark of a Disciple Community

Four years ago, teachers and students in the Seminary began to focus on the practice of hospitality in the love of Christ as the direction of the Seminary in our move forward. At the Opening Convocation in August 2009, I shared a message entitled “The Unity of Hospitality.” The message points to the understanding that hospitality is a central biblical teaching as well as a practical application of our spirituality. I encouraged our teachers, students, and staff to practice hospitality to each other on becoming a unified, loving community. I firmly believe that this is one of the key manifestations of the Seminary’s spirituality, a mark of a disciple community. Despite differences in our personalities, temperaments, backgrounds and experiences, we are committed to practice hospitality and to love one another in community.

We remind one another that hospitality is also the soul for Christian mission. Not only do we practice hospitality in a disciple community, we ought also to know that it is our vocation to practice hospitality to strangers and to take the initiative in sharing with them the great love and grace of Christ. Strangers are present in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Asia, and they are at different corners of the world. When hospitality becomes the life style of the Seminary’s disciple community, people will recognize that we are the disciples of Christ.

Synergy: One Big Classroom

In addition to hospitality, we emphasize synergy in our faculty team. At the beginning of the year 2010, the Seminary launched a new phase, a phase in which our teachers put synergy into action. My expectation of our teachers, who are specialized in their field of academic studies, is that they would willingly offer to team up with one another in the engagement of cross-disciplinary studies for the purpose of responding to and meeting the needs of our churches and the society. This practice of cross-disciplinary studies is instrumental in complementing each other’s needs of development while reducing the negative effects of fragmentation in theological teaching. Such practice will meet the dual purpose of improving our service for the churches and facing the challenges of the society.

Fragmentation should not be the cause of division in theological education. Neither should theological teaching in different subjects be poles apart. Our teachers are not teaching students individually on lonely islands. Rather, they are working together, shoulder to shoulder, in a concerted effort to nurture a new generation of pastors and ministers. In the Seminary we have many different rooms for classes but all the activities that take place in these rooms should create one big classroom for our students! The synergy of the teacher team is our common vision and such effort prevents theological knowledge and theological education from becoming fragmented. The result of the practice of synergy is our provision of holistic learning experiences to the students.

I earnestly hope for the integration of synergy and hospitality. When teachers teach with one heart and practice hospitality, we all live in joy and work in unity; it will not happen when teachers labor and strive on their own. I say this: Three outstanding teachers teaching individually have no match for three outstanding teachers teaching in a concerted effort! The strength of unity is enormous. This unity not only helps students integrate theological knowledge, but also serves as a model of life. Students will realize that love, passion, and life play a significant part in knowledge building. We, therefore, not only emphasize synergy but also teachers becoming synergoi, a group of workmen working under and with God in one accord.

Theologia: Discerning the Mind of Christ Jesus

The integration of theological knowledge and the shaping of life and daily living are closely related to the nurture of theologia. Theologia is “having the mind of Christ Jesus” (Php 2:5), that is, Jesus’ thoughts, feelings, and ways of doing things being understood by us and internalized in our lives. Therefore, our curriculum must help our students in the development of their ability to discern “Jesus’ mind.” Hence, students must dedicate themselves to the studies of the biblical knowledge for the comprehension of the scriptural messages in their original text. Students must study systematic theology for the development of clear and critical thinking. Students will learn to scrutinize historical records for analysis and considerations of the historical truths and for honest approach to the present. Students study ethics to distinguish right from wrong, appropriateness from inappropriateness.

Moreover, the Seminary offers solid theological education to enable students to understand the mind of Jesus through the studies of Bible, Theology, History, and Ethics, and the training of Pastoral Ministry. All the studies and training will lead to students’ living according to the mind of Jesus: to teach, to live, and to witness. Theologia will be materialized in Practical Theology such as Mission, Preaching, and Pastoral care. Theologia will cultivate servanthood and shape faithful leadership, determining the kind of servant-leader students may become. This is why the Seminary has stayed focused in these few years on nurturing excellent servant-leaders who possess theologia. We will continue in this direction.

Preaching: The Preaching of Life

The beginning of the academic year 2010-11 saw the Seminary further strengthening student training and practice in preaching ministry. I expect both teachers and students to offer good service each time they preach. Such preaching would be like serving a feast that is not all delicacies but the food that can enrich the souls. The skills are not of five-star standards but they are competent to prepare nutritious meals. The Seminary endeavors to equip students to become preachers of life, to “walk the talk,” and to “walk the walk.” All our students must be “Heralds of the Gospel” faithfully sharing the good news in their future ministry; they are to be “Shepherds” listening to fellow brothers and sisters while serving them faithfully. They must also be “Prophets” who dare to speak the truth and to uphold the truth.

To provide students with ample opportunities for preaching, the Seminary arranges for the graduating students to preach in the morning chapel. Our teachers also preach what they teach by participating in preaching ministry at the Seminary’s morning chapels, Sunday worship services in churches, and various spiritual enrichment meetings, and revival meetings. Apart from organizing regular homiletics-related seminars and lectures, and Expository Preaching Week, we invited the renowned “Prince of Preaching,” Professor Thomas Long to be the speaker of our Diamond Jubilee Belote Lectures. Professor Long explained and demonstrated the preaching process from its preparation to actual preaching. We thank God for the many inspired teachers, students, and attendees who exchanged their insights with passion during the meetings.

Mission: The Heart for Missions

I shared the future development of the Seminary at the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Worship Service in 2011 and announced the launching of the “Faith, Hope, and Love” Project. One of the main goals of the Project is the Seminary becoming a mission-minded disciple community that is ready to receive the challenge of Christian Missions. “Mission” is an important ministry of a disciple community. In the past two years and more, our teachers and students have gained in the learning of Missions. Through the morning chapels, a variety of meetings, and engagements of exchange of ideas in thoughts and in writings by publications, we have gained an overview of Contemporary Missions and knowledge about Local Missions. Reflections have been made concerning Integral Mission. The purpose of all the activities combined is to cultivate a spirituality of mission in our students and teachers. The preachers to be equipped by the Seminary may not become missionaries in vocation but they must have a heart for missions. No matter where our graduates are located or at which church they serve, they will always remember to engage in mission since they realize the very nature of the church is mission. We have worked hard and we will continue to further our efforts in the education and research in Missions. I pray that God will bless the Seminary in becoming a bearer of Christian Missions, which will enable our students to practice theology in serving our churches and proclaiming the Christian truths to the world.

The mini-global conference that the Seminary co-organized with the International Orality Network in June 10-12 this year is one of the highlights of the Seminary’s efforts in mission education over the past two years. The conference was held on the Seminary campus where about 60 missionaries, theologians, and leaders from over 30 countries came together. The aim of the conference was to explore the models of theological education for oral learners.

The Path of Growth: New Responsibility, A New Chapter

The Seminary will seek to develop its curricula in the areas of Pastoral Care and Christian education. We believe that it is essential that Pastoral care and Christian education are grounded in solid biblical foundation and are also based on theologia. This is to say: knowledge and skills must be founded in Bible and guided by Theology. The strengths of the Seminary in Bible and Theology have created a firm foundation for the studies in Practical Theology.

We are thankful to God for leading the Seminary onto the path of growth and advancement: from hospitality to synergy; and from preaching to mission. Finally, I praise God for His leadership of the Seminary in our incorporation as a Hong Kong Baptist institution in June, 2013. I am also grateful for the blessings and affirmation given to us by our Baptist churches.

The Seminary’s Board of Trustees set up a committee of five members in June last year to study the legal status of the Seminary. By the grace of God and after a year’s effort and consultation, the motion to incorporate the Seminary was passed in the month of May at the Seventy-Fourth Annual Meeting of the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong. With trust and support of local Baptist churches, the Seminary made the application in May and was certified by the Hong Kong Government as a corporate body in June. The Seminary was established in 1951 as one of the ministries of the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong. The incorporation of the Seminary after its sixty-two years of ministry is a realistic recognition of the Seminary being a well-established theological school. The Seminary is now a school that provides quality education and accredited programs. Our recent offer of the Doctor of Theology degree affirms our standards in professional teaching and academic research. The incorporation will mark the Seminary moving on a new stage of development. As a member of society, the Seminary will continue to honor the rule of law and operate with the expected accountability.

Taking into account the 85 year-old Leung Kwong Baptist Theological Seminary in Guangzhou, China as our predecessor, the Seminary has a long history of 147 years. The incorporated Seminary symbolizes the stage of maturity and marks the leadership of God for a new chapter and for new responsibilities. We are thankful to God for His gracious leadership in the past and we pay tribute to all our Baptist forefathers, the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong, our local Baptist churches, and all the Christian brothers and sisters who have stayed by our side every step of the way. The Seminary will continue to be faithful to the task of theological education entrusted to us by the Lord. We will maintain the strong bonding with the churches in the faith, hope, and love endowed by God for proclaiming the mighty power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in binding up our world that has been torn.

Sep 2013