J. Gordon Harris Retirement, Faculty Changes
May 5, 2006
J. Gordon Harris to Retire After 31 Years
James Gordon Harris will retire from his position as Professor of Old Testament at NABS on June 30, 2006. During his years at the seminary, he has made an impact in the lives of students, fellow employees, and Sioux Falls community members.
Whether flipping a pancake for the annual Lions Club International fundraiser, bringing the Old Testament to life in the classroom, or touring the Holy Land with students, Gordon's strong sense of dedication to ministry is visible. Perhaps his dedication stems from his family tree which consists of a long line of Baptist preachers and teachers. But more likely, it is rooted in his personal character and compassion for the Lord.
Gordon has served many roles over the years--husband, father, professor, academic vice president, director of doctoral studies, Lions district governor, Army National Guard chaplain, and missionary. Born in the town of Bunkie, Louisiana, Gordon was raised in a family that practiced service to the Lord. At the young age of sixteen, he surrendered his life to ministry.
Following graduation from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Gordon began his journey in ministry as a pastor. After serving congregations in Waxahachie, Texas; Idabel, Oklahoma; and Zenas, Indiana; Gordon, his wife Joyce, and their young daughter Joy, moved to the Philippines to serve as missionaries for five years.
There, they taught at the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary in Bagio on the island of Luzon. Gordon taught theology, Bible languages, and Old Testament, and served as an area minister in addition to supervising extension education in Luzon, writing courses, and editing. Joyce directed the seminary choir and taught a music course.
During this time, Gordon and Joyce added another member to their family-- daughter Jami. Then, in 1975 the Harris family moved to Sioux Falls so that Gordon could teach at North American Baptist Seminary.
During his thirty-one years at NABS, he served as the Academic Vice President for thirteen years and as Director of Doctoral Studies since 1995. An Army Chaplain with the South Dakota Army National Guard for twenty-two years, Gordon served troops in Germany, Israel, and Italy and retired as State Chaplain, Colonel.
Gordon is a valued member of the NABS community both in and out of the classroom. No matter what role he has assumed, Gordon's commitment to the school�s mission and students is evident. And through this, he has modeled what it means to be a true servant.
In retirement, Gordon plans to spend some time behind the pulpit serving as an interim. He will take a position with the CO-OP organization to direct their program educating churches on aging issues, teach one course each semester for the seminary as an adjunct professor, assist doctoral students as a project development director for NABS' Doctor of Ministry program, write, travel, and do mission work where needed. On the recreational front, Gordon plans to golf, fish more, and play some church league softball.
"Joyce and I have loved all thirty-one years at North American Baptist Seminary. It remains our favorite place," remarked Harris. "We will miss most the everyday contact with faculty, staff, and students. Our prayers and support remain with the school. We are proud of our graduates and the worldwide contribution NABS makes daily."
Dean Benjamin Leslie Resigns; Looks Forward to New Challenge
We report with great sadness that Dr. Benjamin C. Leslie, Academic Vice President and Dean of North American Baptist Seminary, has accepted a position as Senior Vice President and Provost at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, effective June 30, 2006.
North American Baptist Seminary is thankful for Dr. Leslie's sixteen years of faithful service in the classroom, in the role of Academic Vice President and Dean, and in the Sioux Falls community.
In his letter of resignation, Leslie states, "Life is seldom simple, and in this case, I find the joy of a new challenge intermingled with sadness and grief over what I leave behind. I will deeply miss this community."
The entire community at North American Baptist Seminary wishes the best for Dr. Leslie and his family and for their continued ministry service.
Dr. Ronald Sisk, Professor of Homiletics and Christian Ministry, has been appointed to serve as the Interim Academic Vice President during the 2006-2007 academic year.
Dr. Terence Mournet to Join Faculty
We are delighted that Dr. Terence Mournet will join our faculty next fall as Assistant Professor of New Testament and Director of Educational Technology. Terence has already been teaching for us in an adjunct capacity this year.
He is team-teaching one of his classes with his wife, Krista, who also holds a theology degree. In addition to teaching, Terence and Krista have already become vital members of the seminary community, participating in community worship and student life on a regular basis.
Terence has experience not only in the field of computer technology, but also as an NAB pastor. "We are fortunate to have found someone who brings not only the skills we need at this time, but who is such an ideal fit for the heritage and character of NABS," said Benjamin Leslie, Academic Vice President and Dean.
Born and raised in Queens, NY, Terence attended and was baptized at Immanuel Baptist Church in Woodside, Queens. As he began to fulfill his pursuit of financial and social success, Terence realized God had other plans. Through his work with youth at the 1991 Triennial Conference in Milwaukee, WI, God reached out and touched Terence's life.
"In that short period of time God had made it crystal clear as to what I was to do with my life," Terence recalled. "God�s purpose for my life was to use the gifts he had given me to live a life honoring to him and to dedicate myself to a ministry which would be of service to his body of believers."
Terence enrolled as a student at NABS that year. Since seminary, he has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ministry contexts. "It became clear to me over the years that teaching, research, writing, and mentoring were the ways in which I could best use the gifts God had given me," Terence said. "Teaching provides me with an opportunity to impact the lives of hundreds of pastors, who, in turn, will impact tens of thousands of other people in communities all around the world."
New Director of Doctoral Studies Announced
We are excited that Dr. Paul Stevens will join the seminary community as the Interim Director of Doctoral Studies, officially beginning July 1, 2006.
Paul will commute to campus several times a month to oversee the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program and to meet with seminary personnel as necessary. Since the D.Min. program is non-residential, he will be able to conduct most of the program�s business out of his home office in Lawrence, KS. Paul retired from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX, in 2003 after serving the school in a variety of capacities, including Associate Dean for the D.Min. degree program.
Paul is already a project development coordinator for the Doctor of Ministry program. Dean Benjamin Leslie commented that "Paul Stevens is an experienced and greatly respected scholar, administrator, and Baptist pastor. We are indeed fortunate to have him available to us for this time of transition in the doctoral program."