Legendary New Orleans pastor started fund to help SWBTS seminary profs

On May 15, 1952, the SWBTS alumni association — under the leadership of J.D. Grey, who was the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church, New Orleans — instituted a “Sabbatical Year Assistance” program to assist the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with “financial awards . . . on the basis of their need, length of absence, distance to be traveled, length of service with the Seminary, and money available for such grants.”

The day the project was adopted by the alumni at a Miami breakfast, an offering of $246.64 was collected. Adjusted for inflation, that amount would equal $2,357.00 today.

Assuming a 6 percent growth and an ongoing annual contribution of $247.00, the balance in the sabbatical year assistance fund would now be more than $211,000.00 with compounding interest. That’s assuming, of course, that no grants were made.

We are curious what became of this fund. We are also curious what became of other funds.

For now, it is a nice reminder of a day when seminary alumni meetings were about more than giving plaques to presidential favorites, but rather a time when the school’s graduates sought meaningful ways to be supportive of their professors long after their diplomas had been awarded.

This has us thinking . . .

With appreciation to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. The following document can be found in the James David Grey Papers, located in Nashville, TN.



2 thoughts on “Legendary New Orleans pastor started fund to help SWBTS seminary profs

  1. May I suggest that someone maybe even an entire group of alumni write, send a video something to encourage Dr. Bingham and even other Seminary Presidents to reevaluate the role Alumni play at the seminary, if someone looks at SWBTS ALumni page there is not a single thing other than a form to request a transcript. I think to bring the average guy who hasn’t written a new book or given a million should be given the opportunity to share and give encouragement to new and incoming students in chapel, convention events, and others. I mean the SBC is made up of more small churches than big ones, the time they get a say as well as the big name guys. I would actually like to do this but unsure of the reception.

  2. When I was a student at Southwestern, the administration invited Dr. Wayne Ward of Southern Seminary to speak in chapel. He said that during the Great Depression of the 1930s Southwestern almost became bankrupt. Southern Seminary Sent enough money to keep Southwestern going financially.

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