Crowd fills first chapel service, known as “Presidents Chapel” in TMU’s Harris Athletic Complex.

Truett McConnell University (TMU) marked a historic milestone on August 15, 2023, during its first chapel service of the Fall semester. An installation ceremony was held to officially appoint Dr. Maël Disseau as the inaugural occupant of the distinguished Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology for the Charles F. Stanley Global Impact Center.

The ceremony was a moment of recognition for Dr. Disseau’s contributions to the field of theology and his unwavering commitment to the principles championed by Dr. Charles F. Stanley.

Matthew Slemp, the worship pastor from First Baptist Church of Atlanta, the church where Dr. Charles Stanley pastored for over 50 years, along with Gerald Wolfe, the founding member of the Southern Gospel trio, Greater Vision, led the chapel service in worship, featuring many of Dr. Stanley’s favorite hymns.

As the ceremony began, Dr. Emir Caner, President of Truett McConnell University, expressed his enthusiasm during the service, stating, “Today holds a profound significance as for the first time in our nearly 80-year history, we embark on a monumental journey. We are privileged to inaugurate the first endowed chair, and most fittingly, it is the Chair of Theology, bearing the distinguished name of Dr. Charles F. Stanley.”

“Dr. Maël Disseau’s appointment to the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology is a pivotal moment in TMU’s history,” said Caner. “His deep commitment to Scriptural truth and the Great Commission aligns seamlessly with the values upheld by both Dr. Stanley and our institution.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Caner presented a wooden plaque, etched with Dr. Disseau’s new title as the Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology. The story behind the wood of this plaque holds a connection to TMU’s vision honoring the heritage of our Anabaptist spiritual forefathers.

“Since 2014,” shared Caner, “the university takes what is called the Anabaptist Tour—a trip that explores five European countries, including Switzerland, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany.” This tour, which Drs. Caner, Disseau, and others organize and lecture on, serves to remember these faithful martyrs who steadfastly held onto their beliefs even in the face of persecution, and to embolden this generation to do likewise.

“During our time there,” Caner said, “we visit the Czech town of Čermákovice. There, a man by the name of Dr. Jiri Pajer, discovered during his archaeological and historical research, that he had purchased the oldest Anabaptist property existing anywhere on Earth going back to 1586.”

The very wood, that now forms the plaque given to Dr. Disseau, came from a tree cut down on this property, in an area of Moravia, where some of the original Anabaptist settlements were situated–a direct connection to the roots of the faith that TMU holds dear.

Dr. Disseau holds symbolic plaque presented to him at the inauguration ceremony.

The plaque was also inscribed with Joshua 1:9, a biblical verse, cherished by the late Dr. Stanley, about courage and steadfastness. “This verse is significant in that when Dr. Stanley was to preach his first service, he was nervous and shaking. His mother came up to him before the sermon and quoted Joshua 1:9. That became one of the life verses for Dr. Stanley,” said Caner.

As the plaque changed hands from Dr. Caner to Dr. Disseau, it carried with it the weight of history, faith, and shared conviction.

“I am honored and humbled to have my name associated with Dr. Charles Stanley, “stated Dr. Disseau while expressing his gratitude. “I’m so thankful for the honor bestowed upon me today … but what I want you to remember today is not me. What I want you to remember today is what we honor: we honor a man who dedicated his life to teaching God’s Word. [Dr. Stanley] had a passion for the lost and a passion for the Great Commission. And we make a statement as a university, that we here at Truett McConnell stand on the Word of God … and that [God’s Word] is truly the only thing that can transform the hearts of men.”

Dr. Paige Patterson prayers over inauguration ceremony.

“Being selected as the inaugural occupant of this esteemed chair is a profound privilege,” said Disseau. “Dr. Stanley’s unwavering passion for the Word of God and the Great Commission continues to inspire us all, and I am humbled to carry forward his legacy through this appointment.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. Reynolds, Vice President for Academic Services, President Emir Caner, and Dr. Paige Patterson, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a mentor to Dr. Disseau, offered prayers of wisdom and encouragement over the newly appointed Chair. 


Jenny Gregory is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Truett McConnell University.

Return to News Archive