RTS Charlotte 2023 Year in Review

Michael J. Kruger

Posted on

December 31, 2023

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s the time of the year to be inundated with “Best of” stories and “Year in Review” segments, dutifully cataloging everything that happened in pop culture or politics.

But, what if a “Year in Review” was about more than celebrities or sports teams? What if we did a year in review about what God had done in the prior year? Or, more to the point, about how God has been at work in our ministries this year?

Of course, God has been at work in countless ways around the globe this year, most of which I could never know about. But, I can speak to how he has blessed RTS Charlotte. So, here’s a quick recap of what I am thankful for in 2023:

1. Strong Enrollment. It’s been a tough stretch for seminaries over the last few years. Statistically, seminaries as a whole are in decline, some have even been forced to sell their campuses or move entirely online. For that reason, I am especially thankful as I reflect on 2023 because we finished with our second-highest enrollment since our inception in 1992, beaten only be the previous year (2022). This growth has been spread across all our degree programs, particularly our core degree, the M.Div., but also our Master of Arts in Christian Counseling (MACC) program.

2. Residential Students. One of the distinctives of RTS Charlotte is the high number of residential students we have. The vast majority of our students are physically here and full time. This creates a wonderful student community and vibrant on-campus life. In 2023, students gathered together regularly for picnics, meals, coffee, and special events (see picture to the right of our student ice cream social). For more on RTS’s focus on residential education, and how that meshes with our excellent online program, see my article, “Power of Presence in Theological Education.”

3. New Faculty. One of the consistent aspects of any Christian ministry is that people come and go as God leads them to other things. This year we said goodbye to two well-loved faculty members: Don Fortson, professor of church history, retired and is now emeritus, and Nate Brooks, Associate Professor of Christian Counseling, accepted a role at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. As a result, we are blessed to welcome two wonderful new faculty members. Chad Van Dixhoorn, known for his academic work on the Westminster assembly, joined us in August as Professor of Church History and Theology, and Keith Evans will be joining us as Assistant Professor of Christian Counseling, starting in January.

4. New Staff. We also said goodbye to a number of staff members during this past year as God called them to other places: Ed Barnes (VP of Development), Chris Vaughn (registrar), and Nate Groelsema (Director of Admissions). All three of these folks were excellent at their jobs and a delight to work with. But we are also thankful for the way God provided new staff: Drew Harris (VP of Development), Colby Mikhail (registrar), and Jack Roylston (Director of Admissions). They are all very talented and will do a wonderful job.

5. Forge Conference at RTS Charlotte. One unique feature of the Charlotte campus is that MDiv students can get an emphasis in church planting through our Center for Church Planting, with specialized classes that cover the complexities of that unique calling. This year we had our annual Forge Conference which featured Irwin Ince, MNA coordinator, and Charles McKnight, Coordinator of African American Ministries for the PCA. It was well-attended by a variety of church planters from a wide range of denominations (see inset photo).

6. Faculty Scholarship. I am always thankful to serve with a such a bright, productive faculty, leading the way in their respective fields. I can’t list all their publications, but here are a few examples: Will Ross published Linguistic Theory and the Biblical Text (Cambridge, 2023, with Elizabeth Robar). Dick Belcher published Why Does the God of the Old Testament Seem So Violent and Hateful? (Christian Focus, 2023; series edited by our own James Anderson). Kevin DeYoung published Impossible Christianity (Crossway, 2023). Chad Van Dixhoorn published John Lightfoot’s Journals of the Westminster Assembly (Oxford, 2023). And Blair Smith published (along with RTS Charlotte alum Matthew Miller), a Festschrift for Doug Kelly: From Generation to Generation (Christian Focus, 2023). That volume was presented to Dr. Kelly in a special event at RTS Charlotte.

7. International Students. It’s a joy to see the way God has brought students from all over the world to RTS Charlotte. We have a remarkably diverse student body with representatives from every inhabitable continent. As a few examples, we have students from Brazil, Australia, England, Ethiopia, Taiwan, Germany, India, Singapore, Scotland, and Mexico. To celebrate, we hosted an international student’s dinner where they all brought cuisine from their home country!

In sum, we have much to be thankful for here at RTS Charlotte. God gets the glory for his faithfulness to us: “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds!” (Psalm 36: 5).

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