My wife and I arrived on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in late June of 1964. A couple of days later, after we set up the apartment at 4412-C Seminary Place, Margaret’s mother arrived with our one-year-old son Neil and our little English Ford automobile. We were in our third year of marriage and I was moving my bride nearly 400 miles away from her mama and daddy.
Our marriage got better immediately. (smiley-face here)
We had chosen this seminary from the other five SBC schools rather easily, and it had nothing to do with reputation. New Orleans is a mission field. A rather exotic one, I thought. Historic, too. So, that was it. We would go where we could make a difference for the Lord’s sake.
We lived on campus the first year. Margaret took a job at the campus Baptist Book Store and I worked afternoons for the Louisiana Coca-Cola Bottling Company. A few times that fall, student pastors invited me to preach for their churches. (I had pastored little Unity Baptist Church, Kimberly, Alabama, for 14 months, and served in an unpaid staff position at Central Baptist in Tarrant for 6 months before coming to seminary. That was the sum total of my pastoral experience.)
We joined Pontchartrain Baptist Church on Robert E. Lee Boulevard in New Orleans where classmate Vaughan Pruitt pastored. Soon he had me teaching a young couples class and leading worship music. (To this day, my heart goes out to small churches that have to put up with such inept leadership!)
That first summer, I took classes on missions with Dr. Malcolm Tolbert and Old Testament with Dr. George Harrison and loved both. Because I’d not done my best in college, with grades hardly more than average, I threw myself into seminary studies to make the most of this. Dr. Harrison and I bonded and remain great friends to this day. (He’s in his 80s now, living in the Mobile, Alabama area. I had him guest-preach/teach in every church I pastored except one. I am eternally grateful to the Lord for giving me such a friend and mentor.)