Southern Seminary appoints women's support coordinator
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – In light of challenges facing campuses about the place of women in those communities, R. Albert Mohler Jr. has appointed
Garnetta Smith to the new position of women's support coordinator for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In comments about Smith's appointment, Mohler said it further buttresses policies already in place to protect women by providing a woman in a place of authority to whom they have direct access. In his analysis of best practices, Mohler said, it became clear that Southern Seminary needed a woman in this role who had immediate access to the top levels of seminary leadership.
"This appointment makes certain that female students and staff have someone to whom they can express any concerns -- without fear of having to discuss matters inappropriately with a male administrator or member of the faculty," Mohler said. "It just makes sense that we would provide this kind of support for all the women on this campus.
"This position is entirely in keeping with our theological convictions, and is evidence of the fact that we believe a Christian institution is held to an even higher standard of care for our students and every member of this community," Mohler noted.
Smith, who has been working at the seminary more than 10 years, will be the official liaison at Southern Seminary and Boyce College for all women on campus – including faculty members, staff and students – who need to bring complaints or request assistance. In sensitive cases, she will have direct access to the president.
"I'm honored to be asked to take on this responsibility," Smith said. "The need is great, and as Dr. Mohler said in his letter to the Southern Seminary community [Nov. 26], the role will provide a safe place for women on campus to come and share their concerns.
"Studying in seminary doesn't recuse anyone from sinful attitudes and sinful actions, but in a context that is primarily male, it can be intimidating for some women to speak up," she said. "Incidents in some church contexts and in our own convention show us that the need is there, and Dr. Mohler and Southern Seminary are taking significant steps toward ensuring those incidents do not happen here."
In September, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin appointed Smith to the state's newly formed commission on human rights. She will serve a two-year term.
She's also currently serving on the mission board of the Kentucky Baptist Convention as well as the KBC's committee on the annual meeting. Smith has also served on the Southern Baptist Convention's committee on committees (2015).
Before assuming her current role as director of the Center for Student Success at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, she was the associate dean for women at the seminary. She also oversaw disability services for the schools and served as an academic counselor. She serves as director of ministry to women at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
Smith is a two-time graduate of Southern Seminary, holding master's degrees in both biblical counseling and practical theology. She earned her bachelor's degree from Indiana University Southeast.