Dr. Emir Caner, President of Truett McConnell University has announced that the University has received a gift of $3 million, the second largest gift in the school’s 76-year history and the first gift of its kind for the purpose of endowing a faculty chair. The gift will be used to endow in perpetuity the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology and to fund the Global Impact Center in Miller Hall, the building which serves as the centerpiece of the TMU campus.
Dr. Stanley’s theological pilgrimage took him from a childhood rooted in Pentecostalism to joining a Southern Baptist Church in his hometown of Danville, Virginia, at the age of sixteen. Through the tutelage of his Southern Baptist pastor and the education he would receive in Baptist institutions of higher learning, Stanley embraced Baptist distinctives and devoted his life to expounding Biblical doctrines in the Baptist tradition, even serving as president of the SBC from 1984 to 1986.
Anthony George, who succeeded Stanley as pastor of First Baptist Atlanta in 2020 and who is also an outgoing trustee at TMU, said, “For over seventy years, Dr. Stanley’s preaching has been marked by our Baptist doctrinal trademarks such as Biblical infallibility, Trinitarian theology, the substitutionary atonement, the exclusivity of Christ, and the priesthood and eternal security of the believer.”
George added, “This gift and the naming of this Chair of Theology could not have honored anyone more fitting. His ministry has modeled the bold proclamation of Scripture so visibly, so practically, so consistently, and so globally, and to this day stands on a rock-solid theological foundation.”
Truett McConnell University is unashamedly an institution of higher learning that embraces an Anabaptist heritage, an infallible Bible, a passion to change lives for eternity and reach the world for Christ.
In a moving video that promotes the University, the students declare, “We are radicals, adventurers, truth-seekers, earth-shakers. We love the Lord because He has loved us. We love His Word because by it we understand His immortal truth. We love His Church because we are His body being honed to enact change on behalf of the Creator. We love the lost because Jesus has died for every single person and yearns to adopt them into our family. (We are) charged to share this incredible gift to all that would hear, to the ends of the earth.”
There is something special about the TMU campus, the students, the faculty and their approach to academics, the spirit of the institution, and the way they do life together. When people come to understand the DNA of the University, they begin to understand why the students’ lives are so wonderfully impacted and want to see Truett McConnell flourish. The school is simply shaping the lives of the students to become soul winners and world changers.
The fact that the endowment for the Chair of Theology has been given to honor Dr. Charles Stanley speaks of the school’s commitment to Biblical integrity, conservative Christian principles, the absolute essentiality of faith in Almighty God, and the spiritual fortitude to stand against all opposition in order to be true to God.
The heralded pastor, who served First Baptist Atlanta for fifty-one years, once famously said, “Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful if it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.”
That the Chair of Theology is named in honor of Pastor Charles Stanley should be an everlasting reminder to remain faithful to the fact that “Truth Matters to a Greater Degree” – the mantra of the University.
Dr. Mael Disseau, Dean of Hubmaier School of Theology and Missions, and Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, will be the first professor to occupy the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology.
Disseau commented, “TMU’s foundation as a Christian university is, and must be, the Word of God. It is therefore only fitting that the first endowed chair given to this institution is a Chair of Theology. It is also very appropriate that this gift is given to honor Dr. Stanley, who has spent his life teaching the Word of God and fighting for the Word of God and its primacy.
“Christ has given us a ministry of reconciliation,” Disseau explained, “that the world might be reconciled to Him (2 Cor 5:16-21). For the church and the academy to accomplish this in the current cultural climate, we will have to be proactive in engaging the culture. It is therefore à propos that TMU start a Global Impact Center where truth, missions, and freedom matter to a greater degree.
Disseau added, “I consider it a great honor to be asked to be the inaugural occupant of the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Chair of Theology. Dr. Stanley’s life has demonstrated a passion for the Word of God and the Great Commission.
“A similar passion drives me as a believer and guides me as the dean of the Hubmaier School of Theology and Missions, where we seek to prepare graduates, through a biblically centered education, who, as faithful members of their local churches, will be transformed by Christ; critical thinkers; and equipped to understand and effectively communicate Scripture to all peoples in order to fulfill their vocation as Christians.”
Dr. Caner, now in his fifteenth year as president of TMU, explained, “An inerrant Bible demands that we who believe in the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ must intentionally and urgently share the Gospel with everyone. For Christ not only died for everyone, He died for each one. No pastor has modeled such a heart for the world as closely as Dr. Stanley. He is a hero to me and to so many.”
Truett McConnell has had several significant milestones in its history. In the 1944 the Georgia Baptist Convention was asked to approve the establishment of the George W. Truett Junior College in Northeast Georgia. At the March 1946 Executive Committee meeting a recommendation was approved that Cleveland, Georgia would be the location of the school and that the name would be Truett-McConnell Junior College.
Another milestone was erected in 2002 when the institution was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to offer four-year degrees.
In December of 2013 President Emir Caner announced another milestone when he stated, “The hand of God we attempt to follow has in turn blessed us in this expansion of our academic training and spiritual influence. We are elated to announce the launch of our graduate degree program for the fall 2014.”
Truett McConnell reported an enrollment of 468 in 2008 due in part to the closure of its satellite campuses, but by the fall of 2010 the school had an enrollment of 751 students. The institution then began to grow by double digit figures in succeeding years. Today the University is home to nearly 3,000 students.
The $3 million endowment and the establishment of the Dr. Charles F. Stanley Global Impact Center and Chair of Theology would appear to be another significant milestone that sets the stage for a remarkable future for Truett McConnell University.
“While rejoicing at the generosity and vision of these donors, we continue to pray that God will lead other visionaries to give so that two more endowed chairs will be added to the center: a Chair of Global Impact and a Chair of Biblical and Cultural Engagement,” added Caner.
Dr. J. Gerald Harris served as a pastor for 41 years before retiring in 2018. Harris, who was also Editor of The Christian Index, has written for a variety of denominational publications, including devotions for Open Windows and HomeLife magazines. Truett McConnell’s Harris Athletic Complex is named in his honor.Return to News Archive