As we continue our background research for various writing projects, we’ve spent some time going through past issues of The Baptist Standard, one of the oldest and better written publications of Baptist news in continuous publication for more than a century. We ran across a number of columns written for the Standard by Dr. James Leo Garrett where he engages issues of Baptist ecclesiology, history, and missions, and we were reminded how consistent Dr. Garrett’s ministry contributions have been as a writing theologian and committed churchman.
In a June 1982 Letter to the editor of the Baptist Standard, Dr. Garrett wrote:
“When B.H. Carroll, the founder and first president of Southwestern Seminary, was addressing the first graduating class of Southwestern in 1908 in Waco, he said to the graduates:
‘Remember that you go out as constructive and not destructive factors. Open therefore your hearts very wide to all the varied interests of the kingdom of God. Rejoice at opportunity to serve any good. You will misrepresent this seminary if you do not positively and aggressively support every enterprise favored by our state convention [BGCT] and our Southern Baptist Convention.’
For nearly 75 years Southwestern has been educating and sending forth builders, not destroyers, of the Baptist denomination. Whether in organizing new churches or building up existing ones, whether in pioneer work or in the more established areas of Southern Baptist life, weather in the homeland or in a galaxy of other lands, whether in the pastoral role or in the other varied ministries of the church, whether in the association, the state conventions, the SBC or the Baptist World Alliance, graduates and former students of Southwestern have demonstrated that they are seeking to be constructive builders for Christ as Carroll admonished.
This is Southwestern’s mission. We dare not do otherwise.
James Leo Garrett, Professor of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, TX