The year 2018 marks Professor of Preaching and Christian Scriptures and Holder of the David E. Garland Professor of Preaching & Christian Scriptures Chair Dr. William Hulitt Gloer’s 18th year at George W. Truett Theological Seminary and his 50-year anniversary in ministry. With the culmination of such a long and admirable career, Gloer celebrated his retirement from Truett Seminary this past spring.
However, Gloer’s career in ministry is not quite finished. Just as he was led into the academic world through God’s calling, he has now been called to a resident scholar position at Second Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. As he walks through this new door, the impact he leaves behind at Truett will not soon be forgotten.
“Dr. Gloer has been, in many ways, the heart and soul of this seminary,” said Dr. Joel Gregory, professor of preaching and holder of the George W. Truett endowed Chair in Preaching and Evangelism. “He has a great gift and grace to have a pastoral presence and a mentoring presence for our students. Dr. Gloer is as irreplaceable as anyone we have here as a personality. He won’t be replaced and that’s just the case with persons with the gifts and graces he has.”
As his work came to a close at Truett this spring, Gloer hoped to leave an impression on the preaching and commitment of his students who want to deepen their spiritual life and truly become people of prayer. Over the years, he has helped to prepare students for this type of spiritual transformation by taking them to visit the Monastery of Christ in the Desert near Santa Fe, New Mexico, for one week each year.
“It’s had a transformative effect on the students, and that’s one way I can nurture their hunger for deep, abiding spirituality,” Gloer said. “I hope I don’t just leave a lot of information for my students, but that I leave them with their lives transformed. That’s the only kind of minister that’s going to help others—one who has grown spiritually and has experienced the depths of walking closely with God so their life rubs off on the people in their congregation and they see a deep spirituality being manifested.”
His students could not agree more with Gloer’s transformative approach to teaching.
“It seems like it would be impossible to meet Dr. Gloer and walk away empty handed. In my time spent with him, he has not only taught me the value of silence, mediation, and how to effectively preach—he has shown me himself,” said Connor Knudson, second-year Master of Divinity/Master of Education joint degree student, who also attended one of Gloer’s monastery trips. “These lessons have molded the development of my vocational call to ministry and have helped me to rekindle my relationship with God.”
Watching his students walk across the stage to graduate from Truett at the end of each semester is one of Gloer’s favorite times to reflect on their transformation during their time in seminary.
“I think back to where each student was spiritually when they came to us and compare it to where they are now,” Gloer said. “They are blossoming and flourishing, and I think that’s what makes me most proud of everything.”
For Gloer, understanding what was lacking in his own education and integrating that into Truett’s curriculum has helped create successful and effective preaching methods for students. These initiatives include studying primary sources before secondary sources, spiritual formation, a colloquial learning model that allows students to lead discussions, and a strong mentoring program.
“I know guys who went three years through MDiv work and came out dry as a bone spiritually. Academically they were prepared, but spiritually they were dead,” he said. “So, we determined that won’t happen here at Truett. Our students aren’t just informed but are transformed by their many experiences here.”
Thinking through his life post-retirement from Truett, Gloer’s past experiences with the pastor and staff of Second Baptist in Little Rock had a major impact on his decision to accept the position there. Back in 2005, he was asked to serve as interim pastor at Little Rock, the same year he suffered a life-altering stroke.
“They called me to interim pastor in October starting in January, and I had my stroke in November. I thought everything was off the table. I mean, I couldn’t sit up by myself. I couldn’t use my right leg or my right arm, and I could hardly speak a full sentence, so I thought things were pretty much over,” Gloer said. “That was on Sunday and by Friday the chair of their interim committee called and said they knew of my condition, but they had met and prayed about it and believed God led them to me to be their interim pastor so they were going to wait for me.”
Again, Gloer heard the Lord letting him know that God was not through with him and that this was no time to give up.
“I worked hard in therapy and was back there in the middle of January, and I went for a solid year,” Gloer said. “They needed some healing at the church, and we both knew we were in situations where we needed help. God used that experience to heal us both.”
Gloer and the now-pastor of Second Baptist, Preston Clegg (MDiv ’06, DMin ’13), have remained in communication over the years, and Gloer has traveled to Little Rock for many retreats. When Clegg heard retirement might be in the cards for his friend, he called to ask if Gloer would consider walking with his church for a couple years. Gloer and his wife Sheila accepted the offer and made the move to Arkansas this summer.
“We sold our house here in two days,” Gloer said. “So many affirmations have come. It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
As Gloer retired this past spring, two new faces joined the Truett Seminary faculty on July 1. Dean Todd Still appointed Scott M. Gibson, DPhil, and Jared E. Alcántara, PhD, to teach courses and conduct research as part of the Seminary’s preaching faculty in addition to speaking and lecturing at churches and conferences.
Gibson comes to Truett from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he served as director of the center for preaching, the Haddon W. Robinson professor of preaching, and director of the A.J. Gordon Guild, the PhD program in association with the London School of Theology. At Truett, Gibson will serve as professor of preaching and hold the David E. Garland Chair of Preaching, in addition to directing the new PhD in Preaching program.
Engaging in teaching and research in the field of homiletics and enlisting others in this important task gives Gibson immense excitement. He is looking forward to joining forces with Drs. Gregory and Alcántara and the rest of the Truett faculty, participating in the work of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching, and directing the anticipated PhD program in preaching.
“I’m looking forward to coming to Baylor to serve at Truett to extend the reach of the research of homiletics. The PhD program will do just that—enriching the field of homiletics in order to deepen the church,” Gibson said. “Building on the already strong foundation of preaching at Truett, I am confident that the future is even brighter for preaching at Baylor.”
Joining the Truett faculty from his position as associate professor of homiletics and director of the master of arts in ministry program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Alcántara hopes to contribute in teaching, preaching, writing, and leadership.
“I hope that my commitment to being a ‘crossover’ preacher, teacher, and writer will serve people in some way,” Alcántara said. “On account of my background and experiences, I participate in Latino/a theological education and do some of my writing and teaching in Spanish. On account of my doctoral research and publications on Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, I participate in some conversations in African American homiletics.”
Alcántara considers it a tremendous privilege to join the distinguished faculty at Truett and looks forward to teaching alongside Dr. Gregory and Dr. Gibson in the homiletics department, contributing to the PhD program in preaching, participating in the work of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching, and learning from the gifted students, faculty, and staff at the Seminary.
“I am really impressed with the caliber of students, the camaraderie in my department, and the collegiality of the faculty,” Alcántara said. “I am energized by the opportunities that Truett and Baylor afford me to exercise my passion for preaching, to cultivate my scholarship, and to invest in a generation of preachers at the master’s level and those who teach them at the doctoral level.”
At Truett, Alcántara will serve as associate professor of preaching and as the inaugural holder of the newly established Paul W. Powell Endowed Chair in Preaching.
“I am truly grateful to God for the unique opportunity to partner in Truett’s mission,” he said. “I see my participation as integral to my sense of calling, and I hope my participation makes a difference in the life of the Truett community.”
At its May 2018 meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents officially approved the long-awaited PhD in Preaching program at Truett Seminary.
“Truett will now offer the only Baptist university-based PhD in homiletics,” said Dr. Joel Gregory. “There are about 10 schools that offer a PhD in homiletics historically, but we will be the only seminary that is a Baptist university-related seminary, and the only Baptist university, offering this degree.”
The program, directed by Dr. Scott Gibson, will launch in the fall of 2019. In addition to Gibson, both Gregory and Alcántara will also teach PhD courses. The research-based degree will qualify recipients to teach in most of the academy or to become scholar preachers. Interestingly, Truett expects many of the students in the program to be practicing ministers.
“There will be some cohort approaches that are concentration focused because some of the students will be practicing ministers in major churches and can’t up and leave them to move to Waco,” Gregory said. “Instead, they’ll be coming in for periods of time. That’s a newer model of PhD work.”
Truett’s initial PhD in Preaching class will be very small and highly qualified. Requirements will include mastery of modern research languages as well as Hebrew
“We’re very sensitive to the fact that our colleagues over in the Department of Religion have one of the top 10 PhD in religion programs in America, and we’ve had many conversations with their chair and others that the admission requirements and the academic requirements for the preaching program will not be one iota less than the Department of Religion,” Gregory said. “We don’t want any deflation of the degree, so the admissions standards will be every bit as rigorous as any similar degree at Baylor.”
With the launch of the new PhD in Preaching and the onboarding of Gibson and Alcántara to Truett’s preaching faculty with Gregory, the homiletics program at Truett is poised to become a leader in biblical, thoughtful, insightful, and innovative preaching. With his departure, Dr. Hulitt Gloer leaves a legacy of transformational education that will be carried forward into the future of preaching at Truett for years to come.
“Even as we are deeply indebted to Dr. W. Hulitt Gloer for his inspiring teaching, insightful scholarship, and Christ-like service at Baylor’s Truett Seminary, we are no less thrilled to welcome Dr. Alcántara as the inaugural holder of the Paul W. Powell Chair in Preaching and Dr. Gibson as the holder of the David E. Garland Chair in Preaching and as the first director of our recently announced PhD in Preaching. We are also excited that the mantle of leadership and stewardship of the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching has been placed upon Dr. Joel C. Gregory, holder of the George W. Truett Chair in Preaching and Evangelism,” Dean Todd D. Still said. “In his masterful Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.’ At Truett, we have invested and will continue to invest significant time, energy, and resources into the study and practice of preaching, for we, like Paul, stand convinced that ‘God [is] well-pleased to save the ones who believe [in the message of the cross] through the foolishness of preaching.”