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Liberty News

Seminary expansions provide new opportunities

September 5, 2014 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS) is extending its academic reach this year with the establishment of the Center for Chaplaincy and the Center for Asian Ministries, the enlistment of five new and returning faculty, and the launch of new forums on cultural issues.

According to Dr. David Hirschman, acting dean of the seminary, the new centers will support academic and student-oriented initiatives. The Center for Chaplaincy will be led by Dr. Steven Keith (Chap. Col. USAF Ret) and will help advance Liberty’s efforts in the areas of military, health care, and corporate chaplaincy.

“These students will be equipped with the tools to do ministry in specific settings in the world today,” Hirschman said. “The Center for Chaplaincy is really looking to make a major impact in the world of chaplaincy.”

The Center for Asian Ministries is an expansion of the LBTS Korean Program, broadening its scope to all of Asia. Led by Dr. Timothy Chong, the center will assist Asian students in a variety of ways to develop strong Asian communities on campus. It will also work to take Liberty’s ministry training to Asian cultures and countries to help further the cause of Christ worldwide.

“Both Dr. Keith and Dr. Chong bring a fresh and new vision to their respective centers and we look forward to seeing these new centers take shape,” Hirschman said.

Drs. Keith and Chong join Benjamin Laird, Dr. Dave Baggett, and Dr. Ken Cleaver as new members of the seminary faculty this year.

Dr. Steven Keith

U.S. Air Force Chaplain, Col. Steven E. Keith, came to Liberty in 2012 and now leads the Center for Chaplaincy. He has served as Commandant of the United States Air Force Chaplain Corps College at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. In this capacity he directed the Air Force chaplaincy in its mission to educate and train 2,200 Chaplain Corps personnel, including 1,375 active duty, reserve, and Air National Guard chaplains and 760 chaplain assistants. Keith was ordained in 1981 and commissioned as an Air Force chaplain in 1983. He has served as an Installation Staff Chaplain, Wing Chaplain, director of Professional Continuing Education and Professional Distance Learning at the Chaplain Service Institute, chief of the Plans Branch, Professional Division at Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC), Deputy Command Chaplain United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), and as Director of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center at Fort Jackson. 

Dr. Timothy Chong

Dr. Timothy Chong worked at Liberty from 2004 to 2011 and has recently returned to serve as the dean of the Center for Asian Ministries, overseeing all Asian ministries at Liberty University. He has 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry, including youth, young adult, and senior pastorates. He has also preached and led seminars in several Asian and European countries and in the U.S.. 

Dr. Benjamin Laird

Benjamin Laird joined LBTS this semester as an assistant professor of New Testament. Before coming to Liberty, he pastored in Martinsville, Virginia and studied at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, the University of St. Andrews, the University of Heidelberg, and the University of Aberdeen. His doctoral research at Aberdeen examined the publication and circulation of Paul’s letters within the early church. He holds an M.Litt. from the University of St. Andrews and will defend his dissertation this fall to complete his doctorate.  

Dr. David Baggett

After teaching in Liberty’s Department of Philosophy for eight years, Dr. David Baggett recently moved to LBTS. Before coming to Liberty, he taught for four years at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Baggett has published nearly 40 articles and reviews, and written or edited nine books, including the 2012 Christianity Today book of the year award-winner, “Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality,” co-written by Jerry Walls.

Dr. Ken Cleaver

Dr. Ken Cleaver has been at Liberty since 2005 and joined LBTS from the School of Religion this semester as an associate professor of Church History and Theology, teaching graduate and Ph.D. courses. His dissertation work revolved around the rhetorical use of the Bible in the slavery debate in America. Cleaver is involved in the worship, drama, children’s, and financial ministries at Thomas Road Baptist Church. He regularly teaches church history courses for Word of Life Bible Institute. In addition to his teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Cleaver has been active in a variety of local church and parachurch ministries throughout his life.

As part of its new efforts, LBTS is launching a series of lectures that showcase the school’s faculty and highlight issues that potential seminary students — both at Liberty University and in the surrounding community — are encountering on a regular basis. The first seminar, “Sexuality and Morality,” will be presented by Dr. David Baggett on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Terrace Conference Room of the Jerry Falwell Library. Lectures are free and open to the public.

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