by Emily Grooms

CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMNews) – “We’re at capacity,” Truett-McConnell College President, Dr. Emir Caner, told trustee members during the biannual board meeting, Friday, October 17.

“What we’ve found over the past 12 months is, if you go to Miller Hall on any morning, you’ll see students sitting on the floors in-between classes,” Caner said. “We desperately need classroom space.”

Caner shared how TMC’s growing pains have been felt across campus: “We don’t have faculty offices available– we moved our entire advancement team across the street – and class space is at a premium. Our gymnasium is used for six sports, chapel, intramurals, team workouts, and a community wellness center. Right now, every conference room is used for graduate classes; when the program grows next year, what are we going to do?” he asked. “This is where we find ourselves, but it’s a great place to be.”

While several campus facilities were upgraded in 2010: Miller Hall, the TMC Dining Hall and the addition of the New Dorm, the campus has outgrown its renovations. “This brings us to ask ourselves, ‘what’s the next step?'” Caner said.

Despite the frustrations of improper room for growth, Caner’s vision for TMC is steady: “Our job is to help students recognize and fulfill their call,” he said while referencing a student’s call first to salvation and then to ministry or profession. “And the rest of the time they are here is spent to equip them for that calling,” he added.

The Professor: equipping the called

Tom Hennigan, TMC’s Associate Professor of Biology, echoed Caner’s words as he shared his passion to not only teach biology but to train tomorrow’s leaders: “What an opportunity for me to train tomorrow’s leaders, especially in biology,” Hennigan said. “We don’t always think about biologists as hard people to reach, but they are.”

“I remind my students all the time that biology is a calling and I want to encourage them to stay in the race, stay in the fight, and keep on keeping on,” Hennigan said. “They’re a tough group of people but they need to hear about Jesus too.”

Hennigan shared how his attendance on TMC’s Anabaptist Tour this past summer renewed his passion and commitment towards his calling in life: “Am I as committed as an Anabaptist martyr?” he asked. “Am I that committed to my Lord to teach biology and model passion to my students; to make my stand for His truth not only in life but in death?”

As he reflected on God’s presence in his life, Hennigan closed with a final challenge: “I feel the need to stand for truth no matter what. No matter where we are or who we’re influencing, stand firm because He is worth it.”

The student: preparing for the call

Josh Foster, a senior Christian Studies major and the captain of the TMCBears Golf Team, shared with trustees the impact of TMC on his life: “This is a humbling experience,” he said. “I never thought at 22 years old I would stand before a board of trustees at a college and share what God has done in my life.”

Foster read Romans 10:13 and echoed its call to share the Good News with the world. “This verse has impacted my life tremendously. When I die, I want people to say that I represented Jesus Christ well. When I get to heaven and meet my Lord and Savior, I don’t want Him to ask me why I didn’t share Jesus with others.”

Foster explained how he was called into ministry at 16 years old and while he didn’t fully understand God’s plan for him at the time, he came to Truett-McConnell knowing God would use TMC to engrain the truth of God’s word into his heart. “There are men here who stand on the truth of God’s Word and its people like me, the students, which benefit from it,” he said.

“I can honestly say that when I graduate from Truett-McConnell, I won’t just have a degree but I will have grown in my faith, and I pray God will use me in a mighty way. I love Truett-McConnell for the people and professors God has placed in my life. I’m thankful for you guys because it’s because of you that we have a chance at a Christian education.”

The next step for TMC

At the conclusion of the board meeting, trustee members recommended that TMC’s administration begin the fact finding process for the building of new academic space.

Trustee member and senior pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., Frank Cox, said: “There’s something about TMC – it’s the bright star in Christian education and we are the ones who can make a difference. I don’t want to be a trustee who looks back and has to say that we were at the crossroads and we didn’t have enough faith to follow through.”

Thomas Hammond agreed with Cox and added: “we believe in what we are doing here and we know Georgia Baptists as well as Southern Baptists need Truett-McConnell.”

Trustee members will be given a concise picture of how TMC plans to move forward in their next meeting in March of 2015.


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