Christian Chronicle

‘Join in with us to save Southwestern,’ prays new president of historically black Christian college

Terrell, Texas, institution works to overcome declining enrollment and beleaguered finances.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

After nearly half a century with Jack Evans at the helm, Southwestern Christian College — the only historically black higher education institution associated with Churches of Christ — has a new president.

Ervin D. Seamster Jr., senior minister for the 450-member Light of the World Church of Christ in Dallas, assumed the top post at the Terrell, Texas, college in January.

Seamster told The Christian Chronicle this week he’s praying that “all of our brethren across racial and cultural lines would join in with us to save Southwestern.”

In recent years, beleaguered finances and declining enrollment — which the new president said had fallen to just 43 students before he arrived — have threatened the college’s future. Less than a decade ago, enrollment stood at 227.

Seamster is a Southwestern alumnus who for nearly two decades has used an event called the Fab Five Revival to raise funds to support students.
From 1999 to 2002, he served as a special assistant at Abilene Christian University in Texas to the former president, Royce Money.

Besides his Bachelor of Science degree from Southwestern, Seamster holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Originally known as the Southern Bible Institute in Fort Worth, Texas, Southwestern Christian College moved to Terrell — 30 miles east of Dallas — in 1949.

Evans had served as president since 1967, after four years as academic dean. He helped Southwestern obtain its full accreditation as a two-year junior college in 1973. In 1982, the college began awarding four-year bachelor’s degrees in Bible and religious education.

In an interview with the Chronicle this week, Seamster discussed his new role at Southwestern and the opportunities and challenges facing his alma mater. The discussion has been edited for length and clarity.

Read the full interview.

This interview appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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