McAfee School of Theology Timeline

last modified 2011-10-17T20:36:46-04:00

Georgia Baptist pastors and laity begin discussing a need for a School of Theology in Georgia.

April 1993
W. Ches Smith, III, pastor, First Baptist Church of Tifton, Georgia, formally requests the Board of Trustees, of Mercer University, to consider the establishment of a School of Theology.

April 1993
The Mercer Board of Trustees authorizes the appointment of a Study Committee to determine the feasibility of beginning a School of Theology at Mercer University.

June 1993
President R. Kirby Godsey appoints a study committee composed of trustees, faculty, administrative officers, ministers, and lay persons.

June 1994
Upon the recommendation of President R. Kirby Godsey, the Mercer Board of Trustees, in a special meeting at Eagle's Landing in Stockbridge, Georgia, formally approves the establishment of the School of Theology. Former U.S. Attorney, General Griffin B. Bell, is serving as chairman of the Board of Trustees.

April 1995
The Board of Trustees makes the decision to locate the School of Theology on the University's Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta.

July 1995
The School of Theology names Dr. R. Alan Culpepper as inaugural dean.

October 1995 - May 1999
Ann White Morton was appointed as the first Theology Librarian. She began the initial development of Swilley's Theology collection.

February 1996
Groundbreaking ceremony is held for the 32,000-square-foot School of Theology Building.

August 1996
School of Theology classes begin with 44 degree-seeking students.

January 1997
First classes are held at the School of Theology Building.

April 1997
James and Carolyn McAfee of Atlanta announce a $10-million gift to the School of Theology.

April 1997
Upon the recommendation of President R. Kirby Godsey, the Mercer Board of Trustees formally approves the naming of the School the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology.

October 1997
Inaugural convocation and dedication of McAfee School of Theology is held at Mercer University.

May 1999
McAfee School of Theology holds its inaugural commencement, graduating 10 students and awarding honorary doctorates to James and Carolyn McAfee.

June 2000
McAfee School of Theology is granted associate membership in the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).

Enrollment reached 145.
ATS granted McAfee accreditation for five years.
The faculty adopted a plan to begin to offer the Doctor of Ministry Degree beginning in the fall of 2002, and the plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in December.

Enrollment reached 181.
The Theology collection contained 35,700 volumes.
The School of Theology began to offer classes in three “J” terms (January, June, July) in addition to the fall and spring semesters.

Enrollment reached 201.
Dr. Ron Johnson was appointed Associate Dean for the D.Min. degree program.
The Theology collection of Swilley Library reached 44,500 volumes.
McAfee established the Sylvan Hills Endowed Chair of Baptist Heritage.
In January of 2004, ATS granted “preliminary approval to offer the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program.”

McAfee received a $2,000,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment to study the transition from being a student to being a pastor through a program of two-year residencies for selected graduates who plan to become pastors. James N. (Dock) Hollingsworth was appointed Assistant Dean with responsibility for this program, and the first six residencies began on June 1, 2005.
The first D.Min. seminar was held in July of 2004 with seven students. Alumni: After six graduations, McAfee had 135 alumni.

September 3, 2005, Dr. John R. Claypool passed away.
The School of Theology endowment reached $10,745,118, with a total of $20,823,979 received and pledged to endowment.
The McAfee faculty approved a joint M.Div.–M.S. in Counseling degree program that will require 117 credit hours of course work. The faculty also approved a concentration in Urban Mission and revised plans for the concentrations in Pastoral Care and Counseling and Academic Research.
The McAfee School of Theology had M.Div. concentrations in Academic Research, Business, Christian Education, Church Music, Counseling, and Pastoral Care.

After eight graduations, McAfee had 211 alumni.
The Theology collection in the Swilley Library contained 51,679 volumes.
McAfee began to offer a concentration in Urban Mission.
The ATS on-site visiting committee recommended that the Board of Commissioners reaffirm accreditation of the McAfee School of Theology for a period of ten years (spring 2017) and to approve the following degree programs: Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) preliminary. They commended in particular (1) “the extraordinary level of commitment, loyalty, and dedication of all stakeholders at the School and the University,” (2) “the significant growth and progress of the School in a relatively short time,” and (3) the adherence to the focus of Knowing, Being, and Doing as seen in the strength of the M.Div. program.” Dr. J. Truett Gannon retired in June 2007 after ten years of service as Senior Professor of Supervised Ministry.

McAfee offered its first CF Foundation sponsored Spiritual Renewal Pilgrimage to Israel for pastors.
The full-time faculty had grown to thirteen.
The first D.Min. graduates, seven, graduated in May 2008.
After ten graduations, McAfee had 298 alumni.

The School of Theology endowment has reached $12,088,375.36, with a total of $22,742,237.17 received and pledged of endowment as of December 2007.

In April 2009 the faculty submitted a comprehensive report on assessment of its programs to ATS, and on June 19, 2009, ATS informed McAfee that the Board of Commissioners “commends the School for its thorough assessment of its two degree programs” and “received the report regarding a comprehensive assessment plan library resources.”
The proposal for a new two-year 56 hour Master of Arts degree was approved by the trustees in the Spring, and approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and by the Association of Theological Schools this summer.
A new specialization in Global Christianity in the Master of Divinity degree program will engage students in the study of expressions of Christianity in diverse cultural settings and encourage them to have an international, cultural immersion or internship during their program of study.
In the December of 2009 McAfee received a renewal grant from Lilly Endowment for $1,000,000 to establish a Center for Teaching Churches at McAfee.

The Fall 2010 enrollment was 248 M.Div. students and 20 D.Min. students, for a total of 268 students.
This fall the McAfee School of Theology is for the first time offering courses at Mercer’s Regional Academic Center in Henry County. The courses are being taught three evening each week and have a total enrollment of 28 students.
McAfee offered its first on-line course: Introduction to Hebrew, taught by Dr. David Garber.
In conjunction with the Peter Rhea and Ellen Jones New Testament Lectures, McAfee sponsored an international Symposium on the Johannine Epistles that featured presentations from leading New Testament scholars from around the world. After twelve graduations, McAfee has 379 M.Div. and 17 D.Min. alumni.
The Swilley Library reported a total of 57,780 volumes in the Theology collection in September 2010.

Major Source: "Chronology of McAfee School of Theology," by
Mercer University Office of University Advancement.

Alumni, Faculty, Friends:
We want to hear from you. If you have any additions or corrections to this page, please email or write to Arlene Desselles, Swilley Library, Mercer University, 3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30341